The 50th Anniversary of Richters Catalogue!

By Richters Staff

Waltraut and Otto Richter
Our founders, Otto and Waltraut Richter, in 1980.

In the 1960s not many people knew about herbs. Other than parsley and mint, herbs were not yet common in gardens. Few herbs could be found in local nurseries or in garden catalogues at the time.

When our founders Waltraut and Otto Richter opened their nursery, among the thousands of flowers they grew were a few crazy looking plants set aside in a corner of a greenhouse. Handwritten on the labels were names like bohnenkraut, liebstöckel, pfefferminze, and baldrian – herbs remembered from back home in Europe. Those herbs weren’t for sale; they were for the personal garden. But they did catch the eyes of curious customers who wanted to know more. When Mrs Richter explained how they made food taste better, made great teas, and could help improve health, customers asked to take a few plants home along with their geraniums, petunias and marigolds.

Front page article in the Toronto Daily Star, June 18th, 1969 featuring Mr and Mrs Richter in the greenhouse
Front page article in the Toronto Daily Star, June 18th, 1969 featuring Mr and Mrs Richter in the greenhouse.

In 1969, a front page article about those herbs appeared in the Toronto Daily Star Women’s Section. It convinced the Richters that there really was an interest in herbs in their adopted country. And it led to the decision to publish the first Richters herb catalogue in 1970.

First Richters catalogue from 1970
First Richters catalogue from 1970.

That first catalogue was a simple listing of culinary, aromatic and medicinal plants, many never offered to Canadian gardeners before. It attracted a lot of attention from newspapers and magazines, and led to appearances on radio and television, including CBC’s Take Thirty program hosted by Adrienne Clarkson, who would later become Canada’s 26th Governor General.

The media attention brought an avalanche of requests for catalogues, overwhelming the local one-person post office with sacks of mail. Encouraged to follow up with more catalogues, the Richters added herbs from around the world.

Aku and Conrad Richter, second generation owners
Aku and Conrad Richter, second generation owners.

As interest in herbs grew, a big decision was made in the late 1980s to refocus the nursery entirely on herbs. By the 1990s their son Conrad, having completed his masters degree in botany, began to manage the company. On a trip to Ghana to study African herbs, Conrad met his wife Aku who later joined Richters Herbs in 1996.

Since then Conrad and Aku have grown Richters Herbs into what it is today. They take pride in providing not only the popular herbs but also in continually adding new and exciting herbs for North American gardens.

None of this would have been possible without the support of thousands of customers who share with us a love for these amazing plants we call herbs.

Thank you!

Some catalogues from the past 50 years
Some catalogues from the past 50 years.

Originally published in the Richters 2020 Catalogue.

Copyright © 1997-2024 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.