Named Withypitts after the small area in Turners Hill West Sussex where the enterprise began.
I have grown dahlias, as a hobby, on and off for more than 50 years.
My childhood was spent growing up on a nursery that specialised in Dahlias, Chrysanthemums and Delphiniums. I even had a pompon named after me in the mid-50's; I had found a sport on Little Beeswing that was grown on and named Master Richard, sadly now lost. This was the Grove Nurseries and owned by Stuart Ogg - the "King of Dahlias" who was my godfather. My grandfather, Edmund (always known as Ted and a holder of the RHS Award of Merit) and father, Peter, worked on the nurseries as Nursery Manager and Office Manager respectively. Ted Ramsey trained at Waddesdon Manor as an apprentice gardener during the early part of the 20th century. He went on to become a head gardener before joining Stuart Ogg as the nursery manager in 1923.
I learnt everything about growing dahlias from my grandfather and everything about selecting for cutting and showing (commercially) from my father. My apprenticeship ran from the age of about 6 to 16! The Grove Nurseries were the first flower grower to win the coveted Brockhouse Gold Trophy for the best exhibit in show at the Southport Flower Show in 1962; I helped stage that show and many others. You could say that Dahlias are in the blood!
Some years ago I had many surplus plants and sold them through the local ad mag. As a direct consequence of that I was asked if I would propagate around 200 for someone for his cut flower "hobby". I decided that I would need to get serious if I was going to do so, invested in heating equipment and launched a web site. Things have gone from strength to strength.
In 2010 we sold cut flower for the first time and sold all that we could harvest, many going to the local and very prestigious farm shop. In 2011 the majority of the production was sent to New Covent Garden Flower market for the first time where Dennis Edwards at Alagar sold to top florists, designers and party/event planners. Simon Lycett, of "Two Weddings and a Funeral" fame, took a bucket of our blooms on to the "Alan Titchmarsh Show" in September 2011, to illustrate "dignity" when describing the language of flowers. I do detect a move by florists to source their products from within the UK; did you realise that over £2 billion a year is spent on flowers in this country and 85% are imported?
2012 saw us move to new premises and we now farm 1 ½ acres supplying leading florists via our wholesaler Auction Direct Flowers Ltd, a growing number of florists direct and send blooms all over the country by courier. Since then our business has grown from strength to strength and our cut flower are acknowledged within the floral industry as the best cut flower dahlias commercially available and are used in many very prestigious venues both in London and around the country. This has firmly establishing us as the premier produce of top quality, specimen dahlia blooms.