Longbridge Nursery



About this time the British begin to find their gardens a bit chilly . . . an army of gardeners retires to the fireside for a winter hibernation. But not Mr. Louis Kemp, head gardener at Longbridge, and his team. Every year at this time Mr. Kemp and his four assistants fight—and win—a battle to keep the soil in tip-top condition to grow the many-splendored floral displays which delight any visitor who surveys the Longbridge scene. Its like a spring-clean in the autumn for us,' says Mr. Kemp. Growing flowers in the lee of one of the world's largest car factories is no easy job. Explained Mr. Kemp: `The ground needs rejuvenating regularly, and twice a year the flower-borders and boxes have to be thoroughly cleared, cleaned, and treated.'

More than 100 bags of fertilizer go into the treatment, and by the end of October daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth bulbs, among many others, were snugly bedded down for the winter ready to rise and greet the spring next year. Even then the cleaning process will still go on—the flowers are washed. From time to time they have to be sprayed with a liquid which cleans and refreshes the blooms. The gardeners' depot in Longbridge Lane nestles in the shadow of North Works—a world apart from the mighty factory buildings opposite which it serves. More than 300 varieties of flowers and herbaceous plants are cultivated there every year, mostly in the six centrally heated greenhouses. Some are bedded out in the flower-borders, others go into the more than 60 flower-boxes spread around the factory grounds or into the 100 offices, reception rooms and dining-rooms, which get a regular flower service from Mr. Kemp and his men. Mr. Kemp, who has been head gardener for 12 years, has worked on the land practically all his life— I'm still learning,' he says. 'You can never know everything at this game.' The Longbridge lawns and gardens have all been laid out under his supervision, and, all in all, he has about 15 acres of ground to take care of, including the Apprentices' Sports Field. The oldest man of the team is Mr. George Smith. Looking much younger than his 62 years, Mr. Smith says, 'I wouldn't change my job for any-thing.' He has been gardening since he left school and came to Long-bridge 11 years ago after 14 years with the Birmingham City Parks Committee.