Thursday, June 28, 2018
Hillier: the Plants, the People, the Passion Hardcover – April 10, 2014 by Jean Hillier ((Outhouse Publishing)
Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the founding of Hillier Nurseries, this fascinating book tells the compelling account of the rise of this hugely influential horticultural business. It has been meticulously and lovingly researched by the author, Jean Hillier, who has delved into 250 years of family history to tell the remarkable story of how journeyman gardener Edwin Hillier began a small nursery business in 1864, which eventually flourished into one of the most extensive sources of hardy garden plants in the world. The book is illustrated with family photographs of all the main protagonists; and documentation including diaries, plant notes, deeds and adverts, plus images of significant plants and places. All bring the book vividly to life.
Beginning with Edwin Hillier, the chapters move on through the lives of his son Edwin Lawrence and grandson Sir Harold Hillier, weaving the personal lives of their wives, siblings, children and grandchildren into the story of the professional growth and expansion of Hillier Nurseries as a whole.
What comes out most strongly is the warmth the author feels for the main characters. This isn’t just a factual account of the history of a successful business – its people are vividly drawn so that the reader walks with them through the triumphs and tragedies that marked their lives. Especially fascinating is the section on Sir Harold’s plant-hunting expeditions.