About Us

Our Heritage

And… ‘What makes the Bovees Team tick’

The Bovee’s story we’d like to share with you today, dates back to 1952 when Bob & Gertrude Bovee started a retirement business from their beautiful gardens set back in the Douglas Firs, in the hills of southwest Portland, Oregon, USA.

They wanted to share their knowledge & love for the finer forms of rare trees, shrubs and vines, while at the same time earning a few extra bucks.

Well! Why wouldn’t you?

At the time, their passion was mainly tropical rhododendrons & azaleas, in fact they had the largest collection of Vireya (semi-tropical) rhododendrons in the US.

When Bob sadly died, the gardens and the business passed to Lucie Sorensen-Smith & George Watson, who kept the Bovees name, in their own words; ‘because we considered ourselves trustees and caretakers of the garden which meant so much to the Bovee’s’.

Lucie & George maintained the ‘family business’ appeal and personal interaction with customers, imparting their knowledge and experience to fellow lovers of Vireya from all over the country, via the mail order catalog which they developed.

The first edition, in 1982, had 45 plants listed.

In 1998 (when, for most of us, the internet was still a relatively whole new foreign world!) their son; Jon Sorensen and Grandson; Colin Sorensen set up the first Bovees website, and the family started selling plants online.

By this time they had increased the sales range to over 100 different varieties of these lovely exotic rhododendrons.

Looking back now, twenty odd years down the line, this was a pretty forward thinking enterprise to undertake!

The launch into the internet world also brought with it the added bonus of Lucie & George being able to research other rare species and to get in touch with other collectors of exotic plants from all over the world to swap ideas, experience and information.

The business flourished under this enthusiastic family team.

Both locally and through the internet, Lucie Sorensen-Smith cultivated a remarkable band of loyal Bovee’s Friends, all eager to learn from her unrivalled knowledge about the world of rhodies and azaleas, as well as Oregon’s native plants — and all seemingly charmed by her kind disposition.

By 2016, a well deserved retirement was in order and the Bovees legacy was passed on to us…….

Despite the fact that the nature of the day-to-day business has changed somewhat, we, the current team, firmly believe that what still makes Bovees the success it is today, is the ethos born back in 1952 by Bob & Gertrude Bovee’s, and further nurtured by Lucie & George;

‘A genuine love of all things’ botany, a thirst for knowledge and a passion to share that knowledge.’

Although the quaint nursery in Portland no longer exists and the gardens are sadly no longer open to the public, Bovees is still doing what it has always done best…  seeking the best botanically-related knowledge and sharing it with like-minded people.

These days, you will have gathered, the Bovees banner encompasses way more than just ‘rhodies & azaleas’.

But, most importantly……. as custodians of the Bovees ethos, we still duly research ALL advice, tips, knowledge and recommendations with a passion, before they are passed on to you via our website.

Be it; suggestions on how to make cut hydrangeas last in a vase…or…which backpack leaf blower to buy!

We do hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a bit more about ‘what makes us tick’ as much as we have enjoyed sharing it with you.

Hope to see you again soon and in the meantime…

Happy Gardening & Keep smiling!!

Lizzy & The Whole Bovees team