Our History

Want to find out more about the history of Frank P Matthews?

From our founding in 1901 through to the present we continue to expand and develop the nursery to meet the increasing demand for quality, British grown trees.

Scroll down for a few highlights through the years.

Our History


When it all started

The nursery was established by Frank P Matthews founded on £800 borrowed money from an uncle and six acres of rented land, the nursery began in aptly named Cherry Lane in Harlington, Middlesex. Mr Matthews was born in 1878, and left school in 1894. He trained with some of the leading nurserymen of his day.

Our History 1


After the war

During the wars, the nursery land at Harlington was turned into growing vegetables as part of the war effort. There were limited number of fruit trees allowed to be grown to enable stock to be retained for the future. Frank Matthews gained a reputation for good quality fruit trees. His customers were primarily commercial fruit growers but also other nurseries were selling on his trees directly to the public. He also grew roses and had a passion for them throughout his lifetime.

Our History 2


Frank P Matthews retired

Frank P Matthews retired. The gentleman in the picture is his son-in-law Andrew Dunn who took on the leadership role supported by Frank P Matthew’s daughter.

Our History 3


A site move

The business was found to be occupying land needed for the development of a new road network near Heathrow. The present site in Worcestershire on the banks of the River Teme was found.

Our History 4


Ornamental tree production

We extended our range to start growing ornamental trees as well as fruit. A limited range including Malus and Prunus sold as two and three year old bare root trees. We then expanded into other ornamental trees in the late 1970s which expanded even more when container trees became a larger part of the business. The building of the first cold store for rootstocks was also built this year.

Our History 17


Our first mother orchard was planted

The first mother orchard was planted in 1969, prior to that all propagation material was carefully selected from saleable nursery trees. The importance of the first mother orchard coincided with the first ‘virus free’ fruit tree stock (including rootstocks) created at East Malling and Long Ashton research stations under the EMLA scheme. The field which is now part of our nursery rotation is called Old Emla.

Our History 19


Nick Dunn joins the team

Nick Dunn joined the team alongside his father Andrew Dunn. Andrew never really retired, he carried on making a valuable contribution both on the nursery and as a mentor until he died at the age of 91 in November 2007. Thereafter Nick took the reins and has continued to develop the business.

Our History 7


The move from T budding to Chip budding

We moved from ‘T’ budding to ‘Chip’ budding.

Our History 8


Increase in rootstock production

We became a major rootstock producer and exported virus free rootstocks. Apart from European also exports to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Kosovo.

Our History 22


Cider industry

The cider industry had the second wave of expansion of bush orchards to supply the major cider companies (the first was during the 1970s). We were producing up to 80,000 trees a year during this time.

Our History 10


Our 100th Birthday!

The year we hit our century. We also produced the first publication ‘Tree Guide for Gardens’ and the ‘Trees for Life’ trade mark was registered no 2408797 (EU).

Our History 11


We grew 500,000 trees

The number of trees produced at any one time on the nursery went over 500,000.

Our History 20


Frank P Mattews Tree Shop opens

The Frank P Matthews Tree Shop opened as a fully operational enterprise alongside our wholesale nursery operation. We provide an excellent range supplied from our nursery with a huge selection of stock from other wholesale nurseries

Our History 13


Steph joins the team

Nick Dunn’s daughter, Stephanie James joined the business taking it into it’s fourth generation alongside her husband, Charles James.

Our History 18


Nick Dunn was awarded RHS VMH

Nick Dunn recieved it’s highest honour award, the Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH). Nick has been awarded this medal for his service to the horticultural industry and over 40 years working for and running Frank P Matthews. Nick’s father, Andrew Dunn also recieved this award in 2003.

Our History 23


A new container holding area, ‘Guvnors’

A new container holding area, ‘Guvnors’ was completed. This area can hold 45,000 trees and is named after Andrew Dunn, Frank P Matthews’ son-in-law, who took over the business in the 1950s.
Our History 15


We acquire the business of Cherry Tree Arboretum

Frank P Matthews acquires the business of Cherry Tree Nursery founded by John Ravenscroft who established Bridgemere Nurseries and Garden Centre. This greatly expanded our range of trees and we now help to manage Cherry Tree Arboretum, one of the most important tree collections in the UK.

Our History 21


We take on soft fruit production in house

We took on soft fruit production in house producing an exciting range of popular varieties and some more unusual types of fruit. This enable us to have a tighter control of supply, quality and availability for our customers.