Behind Royal City Nursery’s name is a rich story woven around family, hard work, and a deep love for gardening and creating beautiful spaces. From its humble beginnings as a cucumber farm and selling ‘Rose Brand Pickles’, Royal City Nursery has grown by leaps and bounds since first opening its doors in 1962. Yet, despite our growth and expansion into a number of areas surrounding gardening, we have never lost sight of the vision and heart behind our company – to share our love of gardening and to help our customers experience the joy that comes from creating unique living spaces.

John and Elsebeth Olsen first purchased the property at 305 Woodlawn Road West in Guelph in 1962, building the original cedar log Lathe (Shade) House, which served as the retail area. A new store was built on the site in 1977, where Royal City Nursery sold mainly trees, shrubs, soil and fertilizer, along with a few chemicals.

In 1986, Peter Olsen and his wife, Doreen, joined the partnership, expanding the garden centre’s stock to include garden décor – fountains, arbours, and statuary, as well as opening Royal City Nursery’s first Christmas Wonderland!

The business further expanded in the mid-1990s when Tanya Olsen, Peter and Doreen’s daughter, joined full time. The nursery continued to offer beautiful indoor and outdoor living space work, services and products, as well as growing to include water features, garden and lawn maintenance, and a fashion boutique.

2015 saw the second-generation owners Peter and Doreen take a step back and welcomed Royal City Nursery’s third generation owner Tanya. The year also witnessed the expropriation of our property by MTO, us signing the lease of the land next to our property, and lastly (and most exciting!) the purchase of the land that is now our new location! We have a large outdoor sales yard and have built the garden centre of our dreams – a brand new 6000 square foot greenhouse – on our 5.5 acres of land on Highway 24, located between Guelph and Cambridge.

After many years behind the scenes, we are thrilled to introduce Tanya’s husband Dave to the Royal City Nursery team. With over 30 years in the horticulture and landscape industries, Dave is excited to finally meet our wonderful customers, to offer beautiful plants, masterpiece garden pieces and planters, and to provide friendly service from experienced and knowledgeable staff to meet all your landscaping and garden needs!

Come stop in to see us, explore our garden space and store, inspire your imagination with new and exciting products and create stunning gardens that will not only welcome you home, but provide you with a unique and wonderful living space that suits your style.

We look forward to seeing you soon!


Peter Olsen Horticulture Apprenticeship Scholarship Fund

Early in the morning, July 8 2015, Peter Olsen, second generation owner of Royal City Nursery, and Tanya’s father, passed away peacefully. Not one to give up and always one to live the “glass is half full” life, Peter has found peace. His laughter and easy care manner will be missed. We received eight years more when he received his new lungs and are incredibly grateful.

Help celebrate the man who showed us it was easier to laugh at yourself first, have fun and help others!

Peter was a horticulturalist at heart, always stopping to pull a weed or unsheathing his secateurs to prune just one more branch. The love and passion for all things landscape led Peter to become a student in the first Horticulture Apprenticeship program at Humber College. In addition to being second generation owner of Royal City Nursery and fulfilling 35+ years of teaching, Peter freely gave his time as a founding member of Landscape Ontario, member of the Garden Centre Group Co-op, chair of the Farm Safety Association and Rotary Club member.

Peter never shied away from hard work, believing if you are going to teach someone, the best way was to work alongside them. Until recently, Peter could be found at Royal City loading a car, diagnosing an insect problem or helping solve the mystery of what will grow in the hard-to-grow spot. It is with great pride he taught his daughters Tanya and Leah, everything he knew.

In his spare time, Peter LOVED a good movie. If there was not a murder mystery on the tube, surely it was one of the old dusters.  Everything in Peter’s life came back to family: wife Doreen, daughter Tanya, her husband Dave, daughter Leah, her husband Rob and their two children. As a lasting piece of advice to his grandsons, Reed and Parkin, Peter wrote: “Believe in yourself! Stand tall and be proud of who you are. Be kind to your neighbour and especially your brother. Be honest and trustworthy. When you go for a walk, take a piece of licorice in your pocket and think of your Morfar (Morfar means grandfather in Danish) and then have a bowl of ice cream with sprinkles on top before you go to bed”.

As wife Doreen said: “Thank you my Per for 45 years of pure joy and love. You are the foundation of our family and my tower of strength. Thank you for your love, your hugs, your smile and holding my hand.”

In lieu of flowers and gifts, the Olsen family has set up a scholarship fund in Peter’s name. To find out more about the fund or to donate click here: Peter Olsen Horticulture Apprenticeship Scholarship Fund, courtesy of the Ontario Horticulture Trades Foundation or contact us at 519.824.4998.