The Scotsdales story

The Scotsdales story

Here at Scotsdales, we’re proud that we started our story as one of the UK’s very first garden centres – over 50 years ago.

Our 14-acre garden centre at Great Shelford was originally a nursery which supplied cut flowers to the wholesale trade. In 1968, Swaffham Bulbeck farmer David Rayner acquired this business and continued running it very successfully.

When David’s daughter Caroline Owen (neé Rayner) joined in 1979, she began to develop the forward-thinking group of Cambridgeshire garden centres which we know and love today.

Our old nursery greenhouses were soon replaced with a spacious modern retail building, and we opened our first tea room in the mid-1980s (which later became the popular Sunflower Cafés at every one of our garden centres).

We began to expand in 1991 with the purchase of Fordham Nursery. Although this continues to trade as a successful commercial nursery, in 2013, its small shop was transformed into a boutique garden centre with a very popular café overlooking the plant department.

2013 also saw the purchase of Horningsea garden centre, as well as welcoming Becky Critchley-Salmonson (nee Owen) to the management team – the third generation of the Rayners to be involved in running Scotsdales.

Nearly 50 years on, we’re still expanding what we offer for the benefit of everyone in our community and we are busily developing the Scotsdales family, not just as leading garden centres, but as popular leisure destinations in their own right (for instance, we’ve just been granted planning permission for even more improvements at Great Shelford).

Being a friendly family business that’s rooted in our local area is part of everything we do. And we want our garden centres to be places where everyone can come and spend time enjoying the good things in life.

So whenever you visit us at Great Shelford, Fordham or Horningsea, we hope you’ll instantly feel like part of our family too!

1968 David Rayner acquires Scotsdales’ nursery at Great Shelford
1979 David’s daughter Caroline Owen (neé Rayner) joins Scotsdales
1980 Redevelopment begins at Great Shelford
Mid-1980s Our first Sunflower Café opens
1991 Scotsdales takes over Fordham Nursery
2001 Our Sunflower Café expands
2007 Scotsdales Charitable Foundation starts fundraising
2008 The new David Rayner Centre opens
2013 Becky Critchley-Salmonson joins the Scotsdales family business
2013 Fordham rebrands as Scotsdales, complete with new Sunflower Café
2013 Scotsdales also purchases Horningsea garden centre
2017 New planning permission is granted to continue developing Scotsdales’ Great Shelford garden centre

Scotsdales Horningsea

Scotsdales Fordham

Scotsdales Great Shelford