It is with great sadness that the family of Peter Long, the founder of Longacres Garden Centre, announce his passing on Friday the 15th of April 2022.
Born in 1932 in Wokingham, Surrey, Peter was followed by a sister, Wendy, 3 years later.
Leaving school at 14, as most people did at that time, Peter first trained as a chef, working in a restaurant in Camberley. He then became a gardener at Pinewood Hospital in Crowthorne, which is where his lifelong interest in horticulture began.
After leaving Pinewood, Peter started to grow vegetables on a few acres of land in Sandhurst (this was known as Greenacres), supplying retailers including local Woolworths stores. He then expanded the range to include flowers (dahlias and chrysanthemums), and these he supplied to his sister amongst others, who was by now running a shop called ‘The Flower Basket’ in Crowthorne. The only building at Greenacres was a small potting shed.
Peter met Mary whilst on holiday in Blackpool, and they were married in Rhosllanerchrugog in Wales in 1960. Peter and Mary had three children; Carol, Nigel and Julie, all of whom are actively involved in running Longacres today.
The first venture beyond the vegetables and flowers were Christmas trees, and then to go alongside those was a greetings card spinner.
The site we know as Longacres today (initially as Longacres Nursery, later as Longacres Garden Centre) first took shape at the end of the 1970s. The house he and Mary lived in for most of their lives (to the east of the Longacres site) took two years to build, with Peter actively involved in the construction. During this time the family all lived on-site in a caravan.
In the 1980s Julie and Peter realised they needed more flowers to supplement what they were growing themselves, and the first trips to Covent Garden Market took place. This soon led to the recruitment of the first florist, and the floristry department grew quickly from this point.
Staff levels climbed rapidly in the mid-90s as the centre developed and the number of product ranges grew. There are staff at Longacres who are into their third decade working for the business now. A second store based in Chobham opened in 2009, followed by Shepperton in 2013, Bybrook Barn in 2016 and Chelmsford in 2019.
The horticulture business he started, in an empty field many decades ago, now employs nearly 650 people in five stores across three counties.
Sadly, Mary passed away in 2018. She and Peter had travelled the globe together, enjoying holidays and cruises across the world, often with family and friends.
In his 70s and even into his 80s Peter was involved in the day-to-day operations of Longacres – often onsite doing small maintenance jobs and keeping everything clean and tidy. He still kept his eye on our prices and made sure we continued to offered the best value for money!
Peter is survived by his three children and their five grandchildren, and by his sister Wendy.
Peter’s funeral will take place at 4.30pm on Friday 29th April 2022, at
St. Michael and All Angels Church
Lower Church Road