Flower Power founder Nick Sammut migrated to Sydney from Malta at the age of 18 in 1955, already married, broke and with a baby on the way.
In his spare time Nick began building cement pots and wrought iron stands in his backyard – a craft he would begin to teach his children from a very young age.
Nick’s best customer was Lusty’s Nursery on Newbridge Rd at Moorebank. With Nick spending an increasing amount of time at the garden centre, he began to get a feel for the business and George Lusty grew fond of Nick, admiring his work and business ethics. When Mr Lusty was in his seventies he fell ill, and Mrs Lusty offered Nick the business for a sum of 200 pounds.
Nick called a family meeting, and it was decided that the Sammuts were going into the nursery business! There was just one problem – the bank refused Nick a loan. This didn’t dampen Nick’s enthusiasm however, and he approached a local hardware shop owner and negotiated a deal – the owner would lend Nick the money, and Nick would repay him in pots. The year was 1968.
As time went on, Nick started noticing that the customers had little enthusiasm when visiting the nursery. The nursery in those days was unrecognisable from today’s garden centres – the paths were muddy tracks in the dirt, there was no shop, no pricing, no signage and seedlings were dug out of wooden trays and wrapped in newspaper. Fertiliser was sold by the pound, and plants were grown and sold in old prune, jam or olive oil tins, or simply dug out of the ground.
Nick told George Lusty of his plans to improve the nursery, but George cautioned against it, “The best this Nursery will ever do is 100 pounds on a Sunday, no matter what you do to it.”
Nick worked 7 days and most nights to build up the shop, lay paths and increase his range of plants. He was an avid gardener himself, which meant that he knew what his customers wanted. Within the first month, Nick had exceeded George’s estimate three-fold and the business grew at an enormous rate – flabbergasting the entire industry.
A young, ‘groovy’ English girl working at the nursery was asked what she thought might be a good name for a nursery – she replied: Flower Power.
The whole family worked in the business, and loading and unloading was done by hand by Nick’s sons. The boys bagged every day, 120 bags of topsoil after work for the following day’s sales, along with sand and gravel. This monumental task is now done by machines.
Bass Hill opens, though at this time it is primarily a growing nursery. ‘Advanced plants’ are grown, a new concept for the industry. Drive through landscape yards, soil and sand bins, trailer service and home deliveries were also introduced at Bass Hill, revolutionising the industry. Initially, there were no suitable plastic bags, so Nick designed his own. When he found that there were no suitable trolleys available, he made his own. When Nick wanted to install boom gates for the drive through landscape area, the company he enquired at thought he was joking. He had to speak to the general manager before anyone would even come out to look at the site.
Flower Power Bonnyrigg opens. The site is sold in 1978. Flower Power Fairfield opens the same year. Sold in 1997.
Flower Power had outgrown growing operations at Bass Hill and 15 acres were rented at Bonnyrigg. As the business continued to flourish, 7.5 acres were bought at Milperra.
Glenhaven is purchased and undergoes huge changes to make it one of the most beautiful retail nurseries in Sydney. Warriewood is purchased the same year as a wholesale nursery, supplying the indoor and shade plants for our garden centres. The next year in 1984 some of the land at Warriewood is opened up into a retail store, and it has become one of the loveliest nurseries on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Enfield store, formerly Sheringham’s, is acquired for land value only as the business is struggling. This was soon turned around and the beautiful store quickly becomes one of the most successful in the chain. That same year the group purchases Arborglen – 35 acres of prime real estate in Glenorie, which has since been increased to 55 acres. It produces 80% of all plants sold at Flower Power.
A putt putt site was bought at Taren Point, and within 3 month’s one of the most successful garden centres in Australia was built in its place.
The Prospect location, a former go-cart track, was purchased
Bonds (Terrey Hills) was snapped up by the group when it came onto the market and was quickly upgraded to meet the Flower Power standard.
Mount Annan is added, and undergoes a makeover to turn it into a thriving garden centre.
Mascot store opens at the site of the old Seafarers Club. The fantastic art deco style building provides the base for the garden centre to grow from, showcasing the range of furniture and homewares and making room for a café. Flower Power is easily accessible to the Eastern Suburbs for the first time.
The Penrith store is acquired, formerly Garden Barn Penrith. An overhaul helps Penrith realise its full potential and this peaceful spot becomes a local favourite. With the addition of Penrith, Flower Power now has Sydneysiders covered with a garden centre in every major geographical region of the city.
Flower Power expands their landscape range at Glenhaven. This allows Flower Power to offer a great range of hardware and tools, including equipment for the garden like lawn mowers, line trimmers and barbecues.
The Bass Hill store is closed, allowing the business to focus on expanding surrounding garden centres Moorebank and Enfield.
Flower Power celebrates 50 successful years in business, honouring the contributions of the Sammut family and many dedicated, long-standing staff members as critical to the company’s longevity. To cap off the year, Flower Power is inducted into Family Business Australia’s Hall of Fame, the pinnacle of achievement for family-owned and operated businesses in Australia. John, Mark and Collin Sammut along with Michael Spiteri attend the 20th Annual Conference of Family Business Australia to accept this honour on behalf of the company.
Flower Power’s head office relocates from the old family home attached to the Moorebank store to a brand-new, purpose-built warehouse and office space at Erskine Park in Sydney’s west.