Our History

For the Smith Family, the history of Riverside Gardens Garden Centre begins back in 1982 when Moira and Bob purchased the business from Joan and Les Branston.  The original nursery was on the banks of the Broken River, a site we loved with its big claret ash trees scattered throughout which gave the site a real character of its own.   The buildings weren’t anything to speak of and car parking was a headache at the best of times, not to mention what it was like on Sundays when the Trash and Treasure market was on at the old Drive in site, or when it was half flooded by the river for weeks on end. 

For the first six months the nursery was manned by Bob, Moira and Murray on weekdays with Larry travelling up from Melbourne every weekend. When Larry completed his apprenticeship at Government House Gardens in Melbourne he relocated with his family to Shepparton.  Murray was then able to complete his Horticultural apprenticeship under Larry and Rodney was to follow the same career path a few years later.  

Riverside Garden Supplies as it was known back in 1982, was and still is, a member of the Nurseryman’s association which became the Nursery & Garden Industry of Victoria. We were also a member of ‘The Nurserymen’ co-operative but left to become a founding member of Independent Garden Centres of Victoria which is now known as Plants Australia.   

Like any business, Riverside Gardens has had its fair share of trials and tribulations.  Needless to say we have literally weathered our fair share of storms, been burnt by a couple of memorable and devastating fires, survived more than 10 years of drought followed by a regional flood and hit by a twister twice in two years.  The 1993 floods were one of the most devastating of all our ‘disasters’ with a metre and a half of water washing through the shop and nursery and taking with it all, including the gravel off the ground.  At the same time the generosity and support we received from our staff, customers, friends and especially the support we had from our suppliers within our industry was heart warming and overwhelming. It was only through this support that we were able to be back up and trading in just seven days after the water subsided.   

An invitation to relocate to a new site that was high and dry and the opportunity to design the present shop area and the layout of the nursery saw us move to our current site in 1996. Emerald bank then was just a cow paddock and moving a few kilometres out of town was a gamble, one that over time has proved to be beneficial.  We were a ‘lonely’ tenant for a number of years and are very grateful to have neighbours that have made Emerald Bank more of a destination point than we could ever provide on our own.  

There have been many highlights over the years that far outweigh the trials and tribulations.  To win the Best Medium Garden Centre of Victoria in 2008, 2009 and 2010 are three of our most memorable highlights.  We have tested the water with various initiatives over the years, some successfully and others we can put down to experience.  One thing that will never change is our name.  We have built a fine reputation for ourselves under the name ‘Riverside Gardens Garden Centre’ both amongst our peers and to our customer base in the Goulburn Valley and Northern Victoria/Southern New South Wales region.  It goes without saying we are forever grateful to our customers who have continued to support us over the years and we thank you for being a part of this journey with us.