One of America's oldest and largest mail-order seed and plant companies, the Geo. W. Park Seed Company, was founded in 1868 by 15-year-old George W. Park in Libonia, Pennsylvania. Deciding to sell seeds he had harvested from his backyard garden, young George bought a hand press and printed a list of the seeds that he wanted to sell. In addition to circulating this list to friends and neighbors, he also bought an advertisement in The Rural American for $3.50. The ad resulted in $6.50 in seed orders. With this success, George Wyatt Park found his life's work!
Park Seed Company published its first small catalog in 1868. The book contained just 8 pages and used 2 illustrations—wood cuts of an aster and a pansy. In 1871, Park Seed initiated a monthly publication called The Floral Gazette. Definitely more magazine than catalog, The Floral Gazette offered its readers a forum for sharing gardening experiences and a seed exchange column that encouraged readers to trade seeds, bulbs, and plants. It also carried a significant amount of advertising, including ads from other purveyors of seed. By 1877, the name had changed to Park’s Floral Magazine and circulation had grown to 20,000. By 1918, that figure hit 800,000!
The growing number of catalogs brought in ever-increasing numbers of orders, and by 1900, it was clear that the business had outgrown the small post office at Libonia. Park Seed Company moved to La Park (now Paradise), Pennsylvania in 1902.
In 1918, George Watt Park married Carol Mary Barratt, a young county home demonstration agent from South Carolina. Mary moved to La Park and became both a partner in the business and the mother of two sons: George Barratt Park and William John Park.
Eventually becoming fatigued with cold Pennsylvania winters, the Park family moved to Dunedin, Florida, and produced a catalog there in 1923. Unfortunately, while the family enjoyed Florida, the heat and humidity proved to be highly unsuitable for storing seeds. In looking for a better environment for the business, they settled on Mary’s hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina, and moved the business there in 1924.
For the first 25 years in Greenwood, Park Seed Company occupied a large old house. Then in 1950, they made a move to a more modern storefront location and entered the era of environmental control for seed quality.
Eventually, Park Seed obtained 500 acres (2 km2) on the northern edge of Greenwood, and designed and built there a total business complex to house the company’s offices, research facilities, seed storage and processing areas, temperature-controlled areas for storing plants and bulbs, computer facilities, mail-order department, and customer service facility, plus its catalog preparation area and a showroom and reception area for its rapidly growing wholesale division. The core buildings of this campus were completed in 1961. The company resides there today, continually expanding and renewing the complex to meet changing requirements.
Committed to offering the best for the garden, Park has always maintained the highest standards in products and service. Three generations of Parks guided the company until the early 21st century. It is now under the aegis of JPPA, Inc. Park Seed continues to provide the finest seeds and plants for the home gardener, in accordance with George W. Park's original motto:
"Your success and pleasure are more to Park than your money."