History

  • The beginning

At the ripe age of just 23, the gardener Diedrich-Gerhard Bruns (1853-1925) founded a horticulture business with a small range of products in 1876. That same year, his son Johann was born. Diedrich-Gerhard Bruns is the first businessman in his family and manages the company for almost a quarter of a century.

  • The 2nd generation

Johann Bruns takes over the family business in 1900. Inspired by the Dutch tree nursery centre in Boskoop, he systematically expands the nursery into a productive nursery. The first catalogue with illustrations appears in 1913.

  • Perseverance in hard times

The First World War 1914–1918 puts an abrupt end to the company’s previous positive development. Operations, however are kept alive and in 1928, Erich (1905–1989), the eldest of his three sons, joins the company. That same year, the first branch is opened in Gristede.

  • Development

Through clever management, high quality and reliability father and son successfully overcome the effects of the global economic crisis. In 1937, the second son, Wilhelm Bruns (1912–2003) also joins the company and builds up a professional sales section. His approach of travelling to customers to sell plants pays off: During the season, up to 100 workers and staff are employed by the nursery.

  • Postwar period

After the Second World War, all nursery stock had to be reduced to make room for food production as per instructions by the Allies. Johann Bruns planted some of the rhododendrons in the Gristeder forest. This was ultimately the beginning of the Gristeder Rhododendron Park.     

  • Looking forward

As early as 1946, the brothers being to rebuild operations with 70 employees. They no longer see their future limited to the only the German market: In the 1960s and 1970s, the Bruns nursery becomes a household name as a German export nursery.

  • Rhododendron Breeding

From 1950 onwards, Erich and Wilhelm Bruns devote more attention to rhododendron breeding and developing the New Gristeder Varieties®. In doing so, they plant a priceless collection of more than 1,000 rhododendron types/varieties and outdoor azaleas in – the Rhododendron Park in Gristede.

  • The next generation

In 1977, Jan-Dieter Bruns, the son of Wilhelm Bruns, takes over as the fourth generation in the family business, where he has served as the managing director since 1990.

With the death of Erich Bruns in 1989, his daughter Gisela Conrad becomes (1930–2016) co-partner. In 2014, Gisela Conrad passed on her share of the company to her son Erich Conrad.


  • Recognition

Wilhelm Bruns is awarded the highest honour in German horticulture, the Georg Arends Gedächtnis Coin on his 80th birthday in October 1992.

  • Reason to celebrate

The new office building and logistics centre is opened in the Johann-Bruns-Allee in 1997. The tree nursery celebrates the 125th anniversary with more than 1000 international guests in 2001.

  • Solid growth

The logistics centre for container plants is opened in 2003 at the Gristede site. Three years later in 2006, the new building for the depot in Ohrwege is completed. In 2007, the number of staff increases to 300 employees who cultivate more than 4000 plant species and varieties on over 500 ha of space. Today, Bruns is one of Europe’s leading tree nurseries.

  • Commitment to the green industry

Jan-Dieter Bruns has acted as Vice President in the Bund deutscher Baumschulen (League of German Tree Nurseries for 8 years and represents German tree nurseries at the European level. He is awarded with the Hans-Bickel Prize for his business achievements in June of 2006 by the Hochschule Weihenstephan, the Oldenburg Business Prize in October of 2014 and with the Osnabrück Medal of Honour by the Hochschule Osnabrück in November of 2015.