“When the world wearies and society does not satisfy, there is always the garden”
In 1931 Minnie Elizabeth Lee started a nursery, confectionary, florist and seed shop at 134 Victoria Street, Taree called “Lee’s Nursery”.1 A year later she transferred the business to her son Preston Charles Lee.2 Following Preston’s marriage to Lilian Hadley in 1932 they opened a shopfront for the nursery at 182 Victoria Street and named it “Daralea”.3 It sold fruit, vegetables, flowers arranged by Lily and confectionary made by Preston.4
The business outgrew the shop and in 1939 the Lees moved to the nursery’s present site at 42 Chatham Ave where they also built their house. Being the beginning of WWII the Lees were compelled to grow vegetables as part of the war effort. After the war they started a system where they would stock plants in bulk and variety so customers could buy on the spot rather than send away for each order and wait. This innovation is something customers everywhere now take for granted.5
The signboard at the front of the nursery with the quote by 19th century poet Minnie Aumonier has never failed to delight locals and visitors with the Lee family receiving positive messages for the 70 plus years that it has been there.6
Son Darrell joined the business in 1951 and in 1974 his wife Pauline also started working in the family business. Pauline now aged in her 80s continues to run the shop and has been assisted by all family members including her daughter Tina. In 2021 “Daralea” celebrates 90 years of continuous operation by the same family.7
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Northern Champion, 25 July 1931, 5; Insurance Map from 1930; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 2 June 1934, 7.
2 Manning River Times, 7 September 1935, 8.
3 Ancestry.com, Electoral rolls, Cowper, Taree.
4 Manning River Times, 23 August 1947, 7; NSW BDM Marriage Index for Preston Lee and Lily M Hadley, No. 3815/1932.
5 Manning River Times, 24 March 1951, 2.
6 Northern Champion, 4 December 1951, 7.
7 Oral history of Lee family 14 October 2021.