The history of Johann Bruns Nursery



The beginning

With a small assortment of plants, the gardener Diedrich-Gerhard Bruns (1853-1935) founded a horticultural business in Bad Zwischenahn in 1876 at the age of only 23. His son Johann (1876-1957) is born in the same year. Diedrich-Gerhard Bruns is the first entrepreneur of his family and manages the company for almost a quarter of a century. Already at the beginning of the 20th century he can offer his customers a wide range of fruit trees, conifers, ornamental shrubs and hedge plants, all presented in 1913 in the first illustrated catalogue.

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The development

With skilful management, high quality and reliability, Johann Bruns and his eldest son Erich Bruns successfully overcome the effects of the world economic crisis. In 1937, the second son, Wilhelm Bruns (1912-2003), joins the company and continues to build up the sales department professionally. His concept of travelling to customers to sell plants proved successful: during the season, up to 100 workers and employees were now employed in the nursery.

The post-war period

After the end of the Second World War, all nursery crops had to be cut back or destroyed on the orders of the Allies to make room for food production. Johann Bruns planted some of the valuable rhododendrons in the Gristeder forest. This was ultimately the nucleus of the Gristeder Rhododendron Park.

Wilhelm und Erich Bruns
Wilhelm und Erich Bruns

Looking forward

As early as 1946, Erich and Wilhelm Bruns, together with 70 employees, begin to rebuild the business. They now see their future not only in the German market: in the 1960s and 1970s, Bruns Nursery becomes a byword for green quality in Europe as a German export nursery.

Rhododendron breeding

From 1950 onwards, Wilhelm Bruns devoted himself increasingly to rhododendron cultivation and developed the Gristeder Neuheiten® as a later patented brand. For this purpose, he and his brother build up an invaluable collection of more than 1,000 rhododendron species/varieties and outdoor azaleas: the Rhododendron Park in Gristede is created.

Verladung von Rhododendren mit Hilfe von Spiegel- und Rollenwagen in den 60er Jahren

The next generations

In 1977, Jan-Dieter Bruns (1952), the son of Wilhelm Bruns, begins his work in the family business as the fourth generation. He has been managing partner since 1990.

When Erich Bruns died in 1989, his daughter Gisela Conrad (1930-2016) became a partner. In 2014, Gisela Conrad hands over her shares to her son Erich Conrad.

In September 2018, Jan-Gerd Bruns (1990), the eldest son of Jan-Dieter Bruns, begins his work at Bruns Nursery as the fifth generation.


On his 80th birthday on 18 October 1992, Wilhelm Bruns is presented with the highest award in German horticulture, the Georg Arends Memorial Coin, in recognition of his successful work as a breeder and entrepreneur.

Reason to celebrate

In 1997, the new administration building and logistics centre are opened on Johann-Bruns-Allee in Bad Zwischenahn.

A special highlight is the 125th anniversary of the nursery in 2001. It is celebrated with more than 1,000 international guests and the guests of honour Christina Rau, the wife of the current Federal President Johannes Rau, and the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Sigmar Gabriel.

Solid growth

In 2003, the logistics centre for container plants is opened at the Gristede production facility with Christian Wulff, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony.

In 2006, the new depot in Ohrwege is built. In 2007, the number of employees increases to 350, cultivating more than 4,000 plant species and varieties on an area of over 500 ha.

In 2008, the new glass park pavilion was completed in the Gristede Rhododendron Park, which was expanded with large water areas and inaugurated by Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Christian Wulff in 2009.

In 2008 the new depot in Gristede was built and in 2013 the new depot in Langebrügge.

Commitment to the green industry

Jan-Dieter Bruns has been Vice-President of the Association of German Nurseries (BdB) for 8 years and has represented German nurseries at European level as President of the ENA – European Nurserystock Association since 2018. For his entrepreneurial achievements, he was awarded the Hans Bickel Prize of the Weihenstephan University of Applied Sciences in June 2006, the Oldenburg Business Prize in October 2014 and the Osnabrück Medal of Honour of the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences in November 2015. On 1 November 2018, Lower Saxony’s Minister President Stephan Weil will award Jan-Dieter Bruns the Lower Saxony State Prize for the development of Bruns Nursery as an internationally active “player” and his commitment as a networker and promoter of art and culture in the Ammerland region, according to the jury’s statement. The laudatory speech will be given by the General Director of the Herrenhausen Gardens, Ronald Clark.

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We, the Bruns-Pflanzen-Export GmbH & Co.KG (Registered business address: Germany), would like to process personal information with external services. This is not necessary for the use of the website, but allows us to interact even more closely with them. If desired, please make a choice: