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Tributes paid to nurseryman David Howard of Howard Nurseries Ltd

The founder of an internationally-renowned nursery has died.

David Howard, who established his company Howard Nurseries Ltd in Wortham 50 years ago, knew from a young age that his roots and heart were firmly in the ground.

In 1969, he started out with eight acres and two varieties of flowers, steadily growing his business into the success it is today.

David Howard of Howard Nurseries has died, aged 81. Picture by Mecha Morton.
David Howard of Howard Nurseries has died, aged 81. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Although a businessman, he was always a plantsman first and the quality and care he dedicated to his perennials is what he became known for throughout the horticultural world.

Among many achievements, the nursery won two gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and has supplied plants to multiple award-winning gardens over the years.

With an astute and quick-witted humour, a keen eye for detail and a safe business perspective, David was known in many circles – often unobtrusively in the background of many success stories and new developments.

Brian Callin, secretary of Wortham Bowls Club, said: “David was a long-time member and supporter and his humour, knowledge and generosity will be missed, both on and off the green.

“His gently competitive nature was evident on the green, with a broad smile breaking out when he bowled a winning shot, or when the team recorded a win.

“His support for our club and, in particular, our annual coffee morning, was always amazing and the plant stall was always the focal point, with visitors queuing to buy plants donated by David – after all, everyone wants a bit of Howard Nurseries quality in their garden.”

David was a ‘people person’, always having time to chat, and even in his semi-retirement showed a keen interest and was actively involved in the daily ‘goings on’ of the business.

David's daughter Christine.
David's daughter Christine.

Stephen Rash, chairman of the parish council, said: “David was a former long-standing and valued member of Wortham and Burgate Parish Council.

“He also served for many years as Wortham common reeve. He carried out both these roles in a quiet, considered and effective manner.

“He will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by many in the parishes and beyond.”

David’s daughter, Christine, has been leading Howard Nurseries Ltd for the last few years and will continue to do so with her father’s legacy in mind.

In an interview with the Diss Express in August, David summarised his life saying: “I could wish for nothing better. I love growing plants and I’ve enjoyed doing it.”

He is survived by Sheila, his wife of 52 years, his daughter Christine and son-in-law James.

Sheila and Christine said they were thankful for all the support they have received following David’s death.

During his last few weeks, the nursery staff were an amazing support, they said, like the time the team enabled David to visit the Kettle’s on group in Burgate one last time.

There will be a private funeral in the new year, with an invitation memorial service.

To register your interest, contact the nursery by email at sales@howardnurseries.co.uk.

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