Newman’s Nursery– A tradition in quality.

When Carl and Margaretha Neumann arrived in the infant colony of South Australia with their son and two daughters it was hard to be optimistic about the future. The voyage had been long and hard. Their youngest son had died and the land that lay before them was alien and seemingly inhospitable. They could not have foreseen, that their surviving son was soon to establish a horticultural tradition that would survive over 130 years and involve five generations of their descendants.

In 1856 C.F.Newman acquired land in the District of Highercomb in the Adelaide Hills. With his young bride he cleared it and started their garden and nursery. Over the years they developed their collection of species by importing seed and live plants from England and Germany. By the 1880’s the nursery had grown to a point where it was considered a “show piece” of the colony.

The Nursery’s catalogue grew and before the turn of the century it boasted over 200 pages and listed for example over 300 orchid varieties,600 rose varieties and over 300 different fruit trees. Newmans were active hybridists and introduced many new varieties of ornamental and edible plants. As the colony’s leading nurserymen they also played an important role in the development of horticultural enterprises like the Chaffey Brothers pioneering irrigation projects in the Murray Valley.

As the family grew three sons (out of eight sons and six daughters) left and established a branch in Perth and sold plants supplied from South Australia.

In 1913 the Nursery experienced two horrific storms and in the following year a drought. One of the sons (Fred) as manager, tried in vain to resurrect it but with increasing family tension he and his wife finally left to establish their own flower and bulb nursery in nearby Tea Tree Gully. After the sale of the original location they took up the old name of C.F. Newman and Son.

Following the death of their son in the Pacific War Fred and his wife planted the current nursery location as a garden of Camellias, Proteas and Ericas for their retirement. But the love of plants and nurseries is contagious and Fred’s youngest daughter Suzanne and her husband Roger became infected. They developed it as a specialist Camellia and Azalea Nursery and today it leads the State in that field.

In 1985 one of Sue and Roger’s sons, Jon Hall and his wife Dianne, became the Nursery’s Proprietors. Jon and Dianne knew that despite the popularity of Camellias and Azaleas the soils and climate of South Australia would always restrict the size of their market. They were also acutely aware that their out of the way location would be a limiting factor and that something was needed to entice customers to go that little bit further. Traditions and reputation whilst very important were simply never going to be enough to enable them to increase their business.

In canvassing their options for the future they spent some time planning and carefully considering industry directions. It soon became apparent that the industry was rapidly changing. Customers wanted quality presentation and variety.  Life style and recreational aspects of gardening were becoming far more important.

With these principles in mind Jon and Dianne developed a plan to remodel the nursery and expand its range of products. They would enhance the garden environment started by earlier generations but would modernize it to appeal to today’s customer. They would develop and stock a range of products that more closely meet their customer’s diverse gardening needs. Their motto became “Newman’s, Where your gardening dreams come true.” To achieve this they would provide the highest quality products, old fashioned personalized service and expert, friendly advice.

The plantings of Camellias, Magnolias, Conifers, Rhododendrons and Azaleas were increased. The whole area was re landscaped and incorporated bridges, pools and meandering pathways. Beds of annuals and perennials were established to provide colour that would arrest the attention of passing traffic. Large areas were paved and covered to minimise the discomfort of inclement weather. The numerous small shade houses were replaced by one large cable suspension house. The result is an enhanced natural environment, a garden to stimulate ideas and a relaxed, inviting shopping atmosphere.

Customer convenience is also strongly reflected in Newman’s product range. They have significantly increased the stock carried but when deciding on a new line the acid test is; “will it compliment what we already do” Jon and Dianne believe that a business can do itself more damage that good if it moves into areas where it can’t provide expert advice and service. For example they only stock a limited range of hardware items. It’s simply not cost effective to try to be experts in everything.

If Jon and Dianne had to identify one thing that has helped them succeed it would be their commitment to quality. Over Newman’s 130 years they have won many awards ranging from the 1887 First Orders of Merit to the Banksian Medals to the contemporary business and industry awards like the Garden Centre of the Year and Tourism and Recreation Awards. Recognition by the industry is critical because it gives customers the assurance that they are getting the very best horticultural product and service available. When it comes to quality Newmans are happy to be called traditionalists.