Philip Tuthill woke up every day for 45 years and stopped at his Groton nursery at least twice, and sometimes three times.
On Friday, he closed Tuthill Nursery & Garden Center for the last time as owner.
“I’m getting old and I don’t want to do it anymore,” said Tuthill, the 70-something tree warden for the City of Groton. “It’s time. It’s just that we’ve had our time.”
Colton Jenkins, 21, who knows Tuthill as “Uncle Phil”, said his close friends, Rich Hurne and Bethany Silvia, who own Rich’s Service Center in Groton, bought the property Jan. 31.
Jenkins plans to lease a greenhouse from the couple and keep a local nursery there. Jenkins Landscaping & Lawn Care will have limited plants available this spring and will grow and sell pumpkins.
Tuthill Mowing At Age 8
Tuthill started young. He was mowing lawns at age 8, and had other kids working for him by age 10.
He bought his first lawn mower with an engine and rotary blade in the 1940s, for $49.
They didn’t have horticulture schools back then, so he learned from other growers. He starts a plant the way few greenhouses do anymore - by cutting a piece off a live plant with a knife, placing the piece in a misting bed and transplanting it as a root ball into a small pot.
He opened his nursery in 1969, starting with one greenhouse and potting shed. He added the front building and three greenhouses in the 1070s.
“We just kept getting bigger and bigger,” he said.
At its height, the nursery handled lawn maintenance for Pfizer and Electric Boat, and employed a dozen people. Then the economy declined.
“The economy kind of flattened things,” he said. “Nobody seems to have a lot of money to buy things.”
Tuthill’s an arborist and licensed pesticide operator, and he keeps himself educated as the city's tree warden. He’ll be doing other things also now that he has more time.
He’s writing a book, though it’s not copyrighted so he won’t discuss the subject. And he likes to paint. He can paint an owl in 20 minutes and sell the art for $75.
He said there are parts of the business he’ll miss.
“I love plants," he said. "I love to grow plants. Been doing it all my life."