A family nursery partly holds its existence to flat feet. Guests at Ferndale Nursery in the heart of the Constantia Valley heard that founder Eric Tichart had been turned down from joining the army due to him having flat feet. And so he decided to use his “green fingers” to grow the family business from a stall on the Grand Parade to its present
28 000m Brommersvlei Road site.
The nursery was in fine form with a colourful display of foxgloves and pot plant-lined walkway to the play area with a duck pond, maze and an aviary. Christening the purpose planted lawn where future markets are planned, guests listened to third generation Paul Gordon speak about the fascinating history of the nursery. Meanwhile, the next generation, Paul’s son, six-year-old Seth Tichart ran around chasing ducks and geese.
Speaking at the celebration, ward councillor Liz Brunette said when Ferndale first started operating in the valley, the suburb was rural. It has survived to become the very successful enterprise and beautiful nursery and garden centre that it is 75 years later.
“I’m sure that most of us have stood in front of the aviaries, rabbits and fish ponds oohing and aahing with our children and grandchildren, who inevitably become their future customers,” said Ms Brunette.
The other guest speaker said she has been a regular customer since she came to Constantia many years ago and started her garden. “I’m a great believer in family businesses, as you know, and this is a great example of what a family can do when they work together,” said Wendy Ackerman, wife of Raymond Ackerman who started the Pick n Pay chain.
Part of the celebration was the awarding of long service certificates. Pedro Arends who has been at the nursery for 20 years, and Margaret “Mama Ferndale” Rabie, 40 years, were emotional when they received their certificates. Inside the glass house is a pictorial display of the nursery’s history.
Asrif Vajat recalled that he was 12 when he spent his weekends playing with Barbara “Mrs T” Tichart’s dog Thumbelina.
Mr Vajat from Pamorama, said that when Eric Tichart asked what he was doing, he was soon put to work making seedlings for which he was paid 50 cents. All the seedlings took and were then sold for R1.
Mr Vajat is now manager of Superfoods in Bothasig.