Duncan Taylor, Arden Lea Nurseries

Christmas has always been significant at Duncan Taylor’s family firm, Arden Lea Nurseries, in Hesketh Bank. It was 22 years ago that, having supplied Booths with hyacinths at Christmas, Duncan suggested he grow bedding plants for us, too. “We picked a few stores down the M6 and I had a car and a trailer, and that’s where it began.” It was a success – Duncan now grows all our bedding plants, and fills plenty of hanging baskets and pots. At Christmas, his poinsettias are much-loved for their longevity. “I always say that I keep my poinsettia till May and then I throw it away,” laughs Duncan. “It’s not dead, it’s just really dusty.”

The long horticultural tradition in this part of Lancashire comes from its proximity to the hungry mouths of Manchester and Liverpool and the local mill towns. Duncan’s father bought a field and a couple of greenhouses here before World War II and ran them when he came home from fighting. “My father and mother started it, my wife and myself carried on with it and I’ve got two sons and their wives involved with it,” says Duncan. “It’s important to make your living but when you walk down those rows of plants and see the quality that goes out, as a grower that gives you the biggest kick. There’s a real load of satisfaction. That’s a grower’s heart, isn’t it?”