Gardening is in our genes
n 1876, at the age of only 23, Diedrich-Gerhard Bruns (1853-1925, with his wife above), a gardener, founded a market gardening business with a small range of plants. His son Johann was born in the same year. Diedrich-Gerhard Bruns was the first business man in his family and remained at the helm for almost a quarter of a century, until Johann Bruns took over in 1900. Inspired by the Dutch tree nursery centre in Boskoop, he systematically extended the market garden business into an efficient tree nursery.
The First World War, 1914 - 1918, put a sudden end to the company’s promising new development. But production continued, and in 1928 Erich (1905-1989), the eldest of three sons, joined the company. During that year the first branch was opened in Gristede.
Clever business management, high standards and reliability helped father and son overcome the effects of the World Economic Crisis. In 1937, the second son Wilhelm Bruns (1912-2003) joined the company and expanded sales and distribution. His concept for selling more plants, by travelling to customers, paid off: up to 100 workers and staff were now working at the tree nursery during the growing season.
Gristeder Novelties leads to success
After the Second World War all nursery stock had to be cleared to make way for food production – another setback for Bruns. However, no later than 1946 the brothers, assisted by a staff of 70, started to rebuild the business. They no longer saw the future being restricted to the German market. By the 1960s and 1970s Bruns had gained a reputation as the first export nursery.
1950 Erich and Wilhelm Bruns focussed on the cultivation of Rhododendron and started growing the Gristeder Neuheiten®. They set up a collection comprising more than 1000 Rhododendron varieties and open ground Azaleas – the Rhododendron Park in Gristede.
In 1975 Jan-Dieter Bruns, son of Wilhelm, becomes actively involved in the nursery, now into its fourth generation. After the death of Erich Bruns, his daughter Gisela Conrad becomes a partner in 1989. The following year Jan-Dieter Bruns is made managing director.
125 years and five generations
On his 80th birthday, in October 1992, Wilhelm Bruns was honoured as a successful horticultural breeder and businessman. He received the highest award of the German landscape industries, the Georg Arends Gedächtnis Münze. 1997 he witnessed the inauguration of the new administration building and logistics centre on Johann-Bruns-Alle and celebrated the 125th anniversary of Bruns nursery with over 1000 international guests.
With Erich Conrad, son of Giesela Conrad, the fifth generation is part of Bruns nursery, and development is continuing without interruption: 2003 saw the opening of the logistics centre for container plants at the Gristede production centre, 2006 the new depot at Ohrwege was built. In 2007 the number of staff members reached 300. They cultivate over 4000 plant species and cultivars on more than 500 hectares of land.
Bruns has developed into one of the leading nurseries in Europe.