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A Passion for Plants: The Treseders of Truro

Suz­anne Treseder

A Passion for Plants coverIn 1857 three broth­ers left Corn­wall for Aus­tralia in search of gold. One of them, John Gar­land Treseder, took with him veget­able seeds, and star­ted a mar­ket garden. Soon there were nurs­er­ies, and a shop in Sydney, and John Treseder designed parks and gar­dens in New South Wales and Vic­toria. Return­ing to Corn­wall, he impor­ted some of the first in a long line of com­mer­cial intro­duc­tions of Aus­tralasian plants, includ­ing the tree fern, Dick­so­nia ant­arc­tica, cordyline, phor­mium, euca­lyptus, mimosa and pit­to­sporum. Soon Treseders’ Nurs­er­ies were export­ing these plants world-​​wide, to cus­tom­ers keen to acquire new, unusual plants.

For over 50 years Treseders’ Nurs­er­ies car­ried one of the largest col­lec­tions of orna­mental plants in the UK. In Corn­wall and bey­ond, they land­scaped rail­way sta­tions, hotel and private gar­dens, feed­ing the over­whelm­ing appet­ite for accli­mat­ized exot­ics. In the mid-​​twentieth cen­tury, Neil Gar­land Treseder was the first per­son to appre­ci­ate the com­mer­cial import­ance of camel­lias, and in the 1960s Treseders’ cata­logue fea­tured 250 dif­fer­ent vari­et­ies. Neil Treseder wrote extens­ively and author­it­at­ively on camel­lias and magno­lias. He named over 60 plants – many of which received the RHS Award of Garden Merit – and reflec­ted that ‘I wouldn’t change my voca­tion. It’s the most excit­ing and spir­itu­ally reward­ing occu­pa­tion in the world.’

You can use Google Book Search to look inside this book here.

Suz­anne Treseder is the daugh­ter of Neil Gar­land Treseder. Here she tells the story of her family’s pas­sion for plants.

  • Fore­word, by Sir Richard Carew Pole, Pres­id­ent, Corn­wall Gar­dens Trust
  • Acknow­ledge­ments
  • 1 A Cornish Family’s Pas­sion for Plants
  • 2 John Gar­land Treseder, 1841–1923
  • 3 Ira Gar­land Treseder, 1877–1967
  • 4 Neil Gar­land Treseder, 1913–1983
  • 5 Andrew Gar­land Treseder, 1941–1983
  • Con­clu­sion
  • Finis
  • Appen­dices
  • Bib­li­o­graphy
  • Index

ISBN: 0906720389
1st edi­tion
Cased
120 pages
black and white pho­tos
216 x 136mm
20.10.04
£12.95

This is a book that sets out to be the his­tory of a busi­ness dyn­asty. It ends up as much more than that. As the Treseders zoom around the world col­lect­ing and export­ing and design­ing, the reader’s jaw drops. As they swap Eng­lish acorns for tree ferns with Sir Philip Fysh, Gov­ernor of Tas­mania, the jaw starts to swing. As they con­spire with Cecil Nice, the Queen’s tame magno­lia fiend, the head begins to shake in won­der­ment. Of the fif­teen books in print with this or a sim­ilar title, this is the one that best jus­ti­fies its claim to pas­sion. … it hides the soul of a romantic novel.’ (Sam Llewellyn in The Eden Pro­ject Friends Magazine, no. 17, Winter 2004)

It’s a fas­cin­at­ing tale, pick­ing up dry old doc­u­ments and turn­ing them into an adven­ture story, chart­ing jour­neys of dis­cov­ery and a ded­ic­a­tion to plant­life which has been passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.’ (West­ern Morn­ing News, 23.10.04)

An import­ant and inter­est­ing hor­ti­cul­tural his­tory and a joy to read.’ (Cornish Gardener, November/​December 2004)

It must be true to say that without their enter­prise many of the excel­lent gar­dens we now have in Corn­wall would not exist. A true tale of hor­ti­cul­tural and high adven­ture, the story of John Gar­land Treseder’s voy­age to Aus­tralia in search of gold is an epic in itself.’ (The Cornish­man, 02.12.04)

For more than two hun­dred years the most import­ant pro­vin­cial nurs­ery­men have doubled as garden design­ers, and as a res­ult have had a sub­stan­tial impact not just on the choice of plants but on the choice of plant­ing style. Yet few nurs­ery firms have been stud­ied in any detail …
‘… it con­tains much fas­cin­at­ing his­tor­ical inform­a­tion and con­sid­er­able human interest …’ (Hortus, no. 72, Winter 2004)

You don’t have to be as pas­sion­ate about plants as the Treseders to enjoy this illus­trated book. It’s a fas­cin­at­ing tale of a local fam­ily, and includes such gems as the account by … John Gar­land Treseder … early in a three-​​month voy­age from Aus­tralia to Ply­mouth in 1866, when his ship struck an ice­berg.’ (West Bri­ton, 9.12.04)

This is a lov­ingly and metic­u­lously researched account of the Truro branch of this ancient Cornish fam­ily who had such an impact on hor­ti­cul­ture, in not only Corn­wall but also else­where in Bri­tain and over­seas. …
‘The pro­duc­tion and lay­out of this very read­able book is pleas­ing’ (Corn­wall Gar­dens Trust Journal, 2005)

… the great nine­teenth cen­tury dia­spora took the Treseders to Aus­tralia, the source of so many plants which came to our shores as a res­ult of that jour­ney. At one time Treseders were one of the great sup­pli­ers of exotic plants in the United King­dom, rivalling Veitch’s of Exeter. Through gen­er­a­tions they were lead­ers in their field … theirs is no ordin­ary story.’ (Old Corn­wall, vol. XIII, no. 4, Spring 2005)

This is an absorb­ing study of a family-​​run busi­ness which spread its influ­ence all over the World. …
‘Suz­anne Treseder is an enga­ging writer who has pro­duced an excel­lent, well-​​researched and pol­ished nar­rat­ive. The book itself is a fine volume’ (Cornish World, 41, Spring 2005)

Whilst a fas­cin­at­ing account of the rise and demise of a prom­in­ent Cornish nurs­ery, it is the par­tic­u­lar con­nec­tion with Aus­tralia that garden his­tor­i­ans in Aus­tralia will find of interest in this book.
‘… the Aus­tralian story … is placed within the con­text of the career of a fam­ily with mem­bers that are to this day, gripped by a pas­sion for plants.’ (Aus­tralian Garden His­tory, vol. 17, no. 3, Janu­ary 2006)

I found it most enlight­en­ing and although I had been famil­iar with the name TRESEDER I had no idea of the extent of their influ­ence. I thor­oughly recom­mend it.’ (Corn­wall Fam­ily His­tory Soci­ety, no. 115, March 2005)

A Pas­sion for Plants: The Treseders of Truro received a Com­mend­a­tion in the 2005 Holyer an Gof Awards for the best Cornish pub­lic­a­tions of 2004. It was fea­tured on BBC South West’s Inside Out in Septem­ber 2006.

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