The History of Bernaville Nurseries

Bernaville Nurseries is a family run, independent business established over 65 years ago by the Jackson family. There are now three generations of the family working within the business, dedicated to providing excellent service and quality.

The History of Bernaville Nurseries

Bernaville Nurseries is a family run, independent business established 65 years ago by the Jackson family. There are now three generations of the family working within the business, dedicated to providing excellent service and quality.

A success story borne out of hard work and determination, over the years the traditional nursery has evolved into a comprehensive garden centre but is still fully committed to growing a wide selection of exceptional quality plants.

The garden centre now includes a large furniture (indoor & outdoor) showroom, a comprehensive pet centre, a huge selection of gifts and interior decorations, a clothing department and a café & restaurant

As we celebrate our 65th anniversary this March we take pleasure in looking back at our wonderful history and remember where we started. 

How it started

In 1957 after returning home from national service, Terry started to grow vegetables and keep chickens in the garden of his parent’s house ‘Bernaville’. When he married Audrey in 1958 together, they bought a second-hand greenhouse and a poultry shed so they could extend their range of produce and sell locally from a van in Exeter.

As their family grew by having children Tony and Sue, it was decided that Audrey would return to teaching and Terry would concentrate on building up the business in the seventies. They bought a shoes repair shop in Thurlow Road which they then used to sell fruit and vegetables from.

In 1976 they purchased the field Bernaville is now situated on, and they built their first large commercial greenhouse in 1978, expanding their range of products to now include bedding plants.

1980 – 1999 Bernaville Grows

Their son Tony returned home from agricultural college in 1980 and the business started to expand further with a 5,000 square ft commercial greenhouse being built in the new field in 1981. At this time the first employees were taken on, Joyce Botting and Simon Heard as the YTS boy. In 1986 the shop in Thurlow road was sold and the proceeds invested into a 2nd 5,000sq ft greenhouse on the back of the original.

The business had now grown and employed 5 members of staff. The decision was taken to give up growing vegetables and concentrate on growing ornamental plants. In 1986 planning permission was sought after to change the nursery to a garden centre. Alan Leaman then joined the team as plant manager and due to his extensive plant knowledge helped upgrade the business.  

In 1991 the business added its first coffeeshop. At this time Bernaville was starting to add gifts and Christmas to its range of products. Audrey had now given up teaching and was devoting herself to helping the business full time. By now the business had a conservatory and fish franchise on site.

The 5-and-a-half-acre site was now starting to fill up! In 1997 a large pond was dug and landscaped and in 1999 a new coffee shop and restaurant was being built on site.

2002- Present Day

Rachel Jackson was now working within the business to help cope with the mass of paperwork and in 2002 a two-storey building was built that would accommodate offices upstairs and tills on the ground floor. 2005 saw the first greenhouse demolished and upgraded. We now had more space for our ever-growing Christmas and gift department as well as a mezzanine level with a café.  The business was thriving, and a close team was working hard to ensure their customers received the very best service and quality plants.

In 2012 Bernaville purchased the BP garage site and added a second entrance into the site which helped improve the car park flow. In the same year Terry unfortunately passed away leaving Audrey, Tony, Rachel and Simon to continue to drive the business forward.

In 2013 plans were made to build a bigger warehouse into the side of the hill where the fencing and paving department initially was and convert the existing warehouse into a pet department.

In 2018 the 2nd commercial greenhouse was rebuilt and modernised. By now Sam, Lyndsey and Zoe joined the family business making it a successful three-generation family run garden centre.

This year another storage building is being built and we have plans to extend our current restaurant kitchen. We are so proud of the successful 65-year business we have built and can’t thank our staff enough for their hard work over the years as well as the loyal customers who have supported and continue to support us.