Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

George Watt Park

George Watt Park, at the age 16, raised flowers in a corner of his mother’s garden and sold the seeds to friends and neighbors.  The George W. Park Seed Co., Inc. was established in 1868 and the first printed catalog was 8 pages in size.  The company sold flower and vegetable seeds both wholesale and retail.

In 1871, Park started the publishing "The Floral Gazette" whose name was changed to "Park’s Floral Magazine" in 1877.  In November of 1905, 400,296 copies of the magazine were mailed out.

In 1882, Park fulfilled a life-long dream of obtaining a college education and enrolled at Michigan State University graduating four years later with a degree in horticulture.

He traveled extensively across the U.S., Mexico and Europe and during one of his trips he stopped to visit a South Carolina county home demonstration agent named Mary Barratt.  Mary had written him for advice.  A relationship began, they were married in 1918, and moved to Dunedin, Florida.

The climate there was not suited for the seed business, so they relocated to Greenwood, South Carolina.  When George died in 1935, his wife Mary ran the business until his son George Barratt Park assumed the role.

George B. Park died in 1967 and his brother William John Park took over as head of the business.  William continued until 1990 when he became Chairman of the Board and was succeeded  by his nephew, J. Leonard Park, and niece, Karen Park Jennings.  J. Leonard was succeeded as CEO and President by his sister, Karen 3.

Until 2005 the company continued to be run by the Park family but at that point it was sold to Florida real estate executive Donald Hachenberger.  In 2007, he bought the California-based Jackson & Perkins company from Harry & David Holdings from a reported $21 million.  This purchase came at a bad economic time when nursery sales bottomed putting a strain on their finances.4,5

On April 2, 2010, the company filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of South Carolina.  In August of 2010, the company was sold at a bankruptcy hearing for $13 million to a Chevy Chase, Maryland firm called Blackstreet Capital.4,5

Sources:

  1. George W. Park - Legacy of Leadership

  2. Who Owns What

  3. Barratt Park, III in an email correspondence dated 14 Oct 2002.

  4. Jackson & Perkins, Park Seed Filings Reflect the Times

  5. S.C.'s Park Seed sold for $13M at bankruptcy hearing

Last Updated April 01, 2014.

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