Herstmonceux family nursery joins forces with French conifer specialist

PUBLISHED: 11:44 27 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:25 01 June 2016


A Herstmonceux family nursery has joined forces with a French conifer specialist to create a range of exclusive plants, garden products and wines.

Sisters Vicky and Helen are the third generation of the Tate family to run Lime Cross Nursery, which includes a shop and restaurant run by a staff of 30 at their in Herstmonceux.

Three years ago, while in Ireland with the British Conifer Society, they met fellow sisters Pascal and Marie-Laure, who run conifer nursery Pépinière des Laurains in Viâpres-le-Petit, near Champagne, France. Under the name The Conifer Sisters the two nurseries have exhibited together at shows in the UK and France. They won the Best in Show prize at Chantilly for Lime Cross’s flagship pine, Pinus Montezumae Sheffield Park. The pine was saved from near extinction by the Tates’ late father Jonathan, who managed to propagate the specimen from the last example in the world at Sheffield Park.

The two nurseries have collaborated to develop their own hand-grafted bonsai conifers called Conifères Bijoux®. Each is planted into a clay hand-made pot from Champagne, accompanied by a handmade stained glass support stick and reusable bag making them a perfect gift.

Lime Cross Nursery also has the exclusive import rights for wine from the French sisters’ own vineyard in Limoux, near Carcassone, as well as bottles from neighbouring producers in the region. Helen, who studied wine-making at university, has been building the wine aspect of the business through wine sales and events and education in conjunction with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Each of these French artisan wines can be traced back to their producers who all operate as sustainably as possible, in keeping with Lime Cross’s own ethos.


Another Gallic addition to Lime Cross’s range is a contemporary hand-crafted garden bench made in Burgundy by artist Regis and his wife Catia. The bench featured in Dan Bristow’s Chelsea Flower Show garden this year.

“We have found that opening our network up across the water has provided us with a unique angle and approach”, says Helen.

“As well as conifers we sell the French sisters’ statues and are in discussions about selling them English wine. We’re planning to build up our range of imports from the Limoux region and add a Champagne to the portfolio of wines. Through being transparent with each other we have gained a growing list of business contacts and friends which will hopefully help to keep the nursery dynamic and interesting. Our hope is that this ease of trading can continue even if we leave the EU.”

For more information visit www.limecross.co.uk or call 01323 833229.

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