Blooms was set up by the gifted and charismatic Alan Bloom. Born in 1906 to a family of passionate nurserymen, he set up his own company in 1926. By 1930 Blooms Nurseries was the largest of its kind in England, selling nearly 2000 varieties of hardy herbaceous perennials and alpines. A brilliant plantsman, he personally bred more than 170 varieties of plant (many of which are now familiar 'old favourites'), set up the Hardy Plant Society and revolutionised the way in which perennials were grown and herbaceous borders designed and planted. Bressingham Hall in Norfolk was his home and the Dell Garden, which opened in 1958 is still a radical and inspiring horticultural piece de resistance. His love of gardening was rivalled only by his fascination for steam and in 1968 he set up the Bressingham Steam Museum, one of the largest in Britain.
A prolific author, Alan wrote some 30 books and was awarded the coveted RHS Victoria Medal of Honour in 1971. He set up Blooms of Bressingham with his sons in 1985, one of whom was also awarded the Victoria Medal in the same year - the first time ever that father and son had held the award concurrently.
Blooms of Bressingham ultimately owned ten garden centres, was acquired by Wyevale Garden Centres in 2007 and is now part of Wyevale Garden Centres.
Sanders Garden World
Sanders Garden World started life in October 2000 when building began on a 30 acre greenfield site in Somerset. The business was the brainchild of a partnership between two prominent local business families, Chris and Mike Sanders, whose background in supermarket retailing was complemented by Kerry and Michelle Michael's experience in insurance, hotels and restaurants.
Seven years later in August 2007 the company was bought by Wyevale Garden Centres and life as part of a larger corporate entity began.
Old Barn Nursery & Garden Centre
Old Barn Nursery and Garden Centre was established in 1991 on the site of a disused nursery with a beautiful 17th century barn as part of the set up. The previous owners, the Spears family, added their own growing nursery, greenhouse, children's play area and restaurant, greatly adding to its success and appeal. In 2007 Old Barn became part of the Wyevale Garden Centres group.
Jack's Patch Nursery & Garden Centre
In 1936 a patch of land was designated for a railway tunnel through the hills behind Teignmouth and Dawlish. The project was put on hold and the 15 acre plot of land was let by British Rail, for £15 a year, to a flat-capped character called Jack Webber on an annual tenancy. For the next 30 years Jack made a quiet but successful living selling his produce to passers-by, adhering to the same rent, despite BR's best efforts, until the 1970s. In 1977, unable to afford the rent increase, Jack sold the land to the Hepworth brothers who expanded the roadside trade and built up a thriving garden centre with a strong local focus.
The business was sold to Wyevale Garden Centres in 2004 and still retains the eponymous name, Jack's Patch Nursery and Garden Centre.
Woodlands Nursery & Garden Centre
In 1978 Malcolm Joyce opened Woodlands as a nursery, growing bedding plants and tomatoes. At the height of its capacity it was growing 4 million rooted cuttings a year, as well as supplying Asda with tomatoes. It opened to the public retail trade in 1980.
Bridgemere Nursery & Garden World
Bridgemere started life as a nursery in 1960 when John Ravenscroft bought 6 acres of pastureland to grow roses. Despite losing almost his entire crop to cold one year, John persevered and ultimately created one of the UK's best known garden centres. As Bridgemere Rose and Shrub Nursery, it expanded hugely over the years, eventually growing trees, shrubs, heathers and herbaceous plants in vast numbers.
Bridgemere Nursery and Garden World was acquired by Wyevale Garden Centres and is now the UK's largest garden centre. It is also one of the largest garden centres in Europe.
Wyevale Garden Centres
Wyevale Garden Centres was originally set up by Harry Williamson, a Herefordshire nurseryman, whose innovative approach to selling rooted stock was instrumental in revolutionising the garden centre industry. In 1932 the seeds of the company were sown in his 5 acre rose field. Inspired by practices he had seen on holiday in America, he became one of the pioneers of container grown plants in Britain, experimenting with growing roses in reject tins from the nearest jam factory. This effectively enabled gardeners to buy and plant trees and shrubs year round - a huge advance from the limitations that hitherto restricted planting to bare rooted stock in autumn and winter.
By 1966 the nursery had expanded into one of the earliest 'garden centres' and in 1987, Wyevale Garden Centres became a PLC and was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Throughout the 1990s the chain expanded rapidly, acquiring a wide range of garden centres and increasing its portfolio to 120 in 2010.
Wyevale Garden Centres is now one of the many brands within Wyevale Garden Centres.
Heighley Gate Nursery & Garden Centre
Set in the spectacular Northumbrian countryside north of Morpeth, Heighley Gate is the north east of England's largest garden centre. Originally an independent pig and poultry farm, it began life in 1963 when the owners, the Lishmans, sold eggs to passing motorists. Regular customers spotted the vegetables growing in their greenhouse and a thriving business was born. More and more greenhouses were added and over the years the little nursery and garden centre blossomed into a large and successful growing and retail operation.
Country Gardens was started by Nicholas Marshall and commenced trading in 1985 with the acquisition of Chilton Garden Centre. It was the first company to list on the Aim market and progressed to the full list. The business had grown to 42 centres by 2000 when it was sold to Wyevale Garden Centres. Following the sale, Country Homes and Gardens was incorporated in late 2000 by Nicholas Marshall and his management team and grew by acquisition to a group of 12 garden centres with sales of £16m. In August 2011, the operating business was sold to Wyevale Garden Centres.