Welcome to our story of how Rasell’s Nurseries came to be in Little Bytham and the changes that have occurred in our journey since 1946.
It starts with Tim's mother, Margaret Rasell (nee Fuller) whose family owned Fuller’s Garden Nursery on London Road in Cheltenham pre1946. Donald Rasell married Margaret and worked in the family business in Cheltenham initially but they were offered a great opportunity to start their own business. Fuller's Garden Nursery supported Donald and Margaret Rasell in the purchase of land to build their own garden nursery at Little Bytham in 1947 from Mr Bowler who was using part of the site as a garden nursery. Sadly, the greenhouses on the lower fields were totally destroyed by very heavy snowfall in 1946/47 and all the glass and frames collapsed leaving derelict buildings. To add to the destruction the land was flooded badly in 1947 which meant the land had become a complete wilderness. So at the start Rasell's Nurseries had a blank canvas but a huge amount of work would be needed to make it accessible let alone a working garden nursery. You can still see some of the brickwork and foundations in evidence and the occasional piece of glass still in our lower fields but the whole site is now managed by our team.
Mr Fuller and his daughter Mrs Margaret Rasell (nee Fuller) in 1955
Below is a hand drawn picture that gives a 'flavour' of how the nursery looked after it was purchased and what Donald and Margaret started to do, and later Tim and Margaret. The aerial pictures show all the incredible work Tim and Carol (and their team) did to change a complete wilderness into a beautiful working nursery and home that we see today. We hope you enjoy our pictures of how the site has changed over the years and continues to grow as our timeline of maps and photographs show later.
From it's early beginnings the focus of the Nursery has remained a constant and been centred around the growing of; pot plants, cyclamen, spring and summer bedding, trees and later on shrubs.
Rasell’s Nurseries wasn't a site to visit as no/little retail occurred on site, it was solely focussed on producing plants for selling at the market. Being permanent sellers at Stamford and Melton Markets every week was a very time-consuming part of life but important as the nursery relied on those two market days to sell their plants. Market days would involve a day loading and unloading each side of them and they involved an early start and late finish. Pat Rasell, sister of Tim Rasell, remembers her mother’s Ford car and trailer being loaded up prior to the nursery buying its first van (there wasn’t much room to sit by all accounts!). In the early years there was a great deal more fruit trees on-site along the edge of the bottom fields, especially apple trees. Therefore, at certain points in the season Rasell’s also sold some fruit to customers from their market stalls although not in great quantities.
Mr Donald Rasell with Tim in 1955
In the 1950’s Rasell’s Nurseries site was partly used by Mr Jack Turner, a local farmer in Little Bytham (and his sons, John and Guy Turner, have continued farming in Little Bytham, read about their family history on turnersofbytham.co.uk). Even now there are managed but unused areas ready for future projects, although these areas are getting smaller though!
Sadly, Pat and Tim’s father was never a well man but he continued with Rasell's Nurseries whilst struggling with his health for many, many years. In 1969 he died following an illness, so very difficult decisions were made by Tim and his mother (Margaret Rasell) to continue with the nursery. Tim left Stamford School Sixth Form at 16 years old and worked with his mother to not just keep the business but to 'move' the business forwards and build it's reputation in the community.
Due to the nature of the business customers asked questions regarding the care of their recent purchases and planned ideas for their garden. From this Rasell’s Nurseries began completing off-site work for its customers in the local area. The significant growth of the selling area has meant that this venture hasn’t been able to continue as the nursery needs Tim/Claire onsite 24/7, but we recommend excellent gardeners in the area who we know professionally.
Mr Donald Rasell with the first Nursery van in 1959
Tim Rasell in 1958
It must be noted that Carol and Tim have worked incredibly hard to keep 'pushing' the business forwards, developing the site and bringing up a family as well. Rasell's Nurseries as seen today only exists due to them and continues with their daughter Claire as a partner who has developed the borders as 'show' pieces to inspire customers and developing the selling areas design and organisation. Prior to COVID 19 we had started a Christmas Fair and regular Horticultural talks for societies and customers that were led by Tim Rasell, Ken Rawson and Claire Rasell. Claire has started these again and due to demand 2023 will see them return fully. At this point in our journey it is very exciting to think what path we may take in responses to horticultural trends and customer needs.
Rasell’s Nurseries exists also because of our loyal customers and their recommendations over the years, we have many customers who we regard as friends and value their support and friendship and thank them for it. With a changing trend in customer wishes The Tea House was built in the 2010’s so that the nursery would become a place to visit with family and friends over a morning, afternoon or whole day. The Tea House is a great success thanks to Kate and her team who started it from nothing and is very much appreciated by any visitor, new or old.
To conclude our site map looks very different compared to the one from 1950 which reflects all the hard work completed by the team at Rasell's Nurseries. Please scroll down to see aerial photographs of our site that were taken in June 2022 and enjoy! Many thanks to you all and we hope you have found this page interesting to read and that you join us on our future journey!