Welcome to the world of Burncoose Nurseries, a truly unique and independent haven for plant enthusiasts. For nearly four decades, this business has been run by the same two families since the beginning and has been a beacon of excellence, specialising in rare and unusual plants that capture the hearts of gardeners across the country. What sets Burncoose apart is its unwavering commitment to preserving its independence, resisting the tide of corporate takeovers that often sweep through the horticultural industry. As we delve into the captivating story of Burncoose Nurseries, we uncover a rich history, a legacy of award-winning displays at prestigious flower shows, and a dedication to sharing the beauty of nature with plant lovers near and far. Join us on this journey through a flourishing world of plants, passion, and perseverance.
Burncoose is a unique business as it is run by the same two families 40 years on. With many of the original staff present. In a time where garden nurseries are often taken over by bigger chains, we are proud to still very much be an independent business that survives on a love for rare and unusual plants. Burncoose Nurseries is also unique in its own right because they stock plants from overseas stockists including New Zealand, Chile and South Africa that you can't get anywhere else!
We met Cressy who works at the nursery and propagates many of the seeds for the unique plants they grow and sell. Cressy is also the granddaughter of one of the founders David Knuckey.
Cressy propagating seeds
"I am the granddaughter of David Knuckey and run the propagation department at Burncoose. We have invested a lot of money in growing our propagation department over the past two years as the supply of many plants is now hard to come by. We pride ourselves in the huge variety of Cornish rhododendrons and camellias we grow here on site. The business is a huge part of my life and I feel incredibly proud to be walking in my grandfather’s footsteps," says Cressy.
Burncoose was started by two families in 1984, the Williams and the Knuckeys, they joined forces to create a recognised nursery loved by many throughout the country. Even now many of the original staff are presently working at the nursery.
In a time where garden nurseries are often taken over by bigger chains, we are proud to still very much be an independent business that survives on a love for rare and unusual plants. Starting out with very little, the nursery grew through a love of plants and a lot of hard work.
Burncoose feels that they owe so much of its current size and success to Flower Shows like the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. As the nursery tirelessly journeyed across the country, showcasing its wide range of unique plants from around the globe, it helped put Cornwall on the horticultural map. Over the course of 40 years, Chelsea has remained the pinnacle of these shows, and even now, they proudly participate and consistently secure gold medals.
David Knuckey at a Chelsea Flower Show in the early days
Amongst his peers, David Knuckey stands out as an exceptionally accomplished Chelsea gold medalist, setting records with his remarkable medal count. The legacy of these achievements continues to shape Burncoose's reputation and dedication to excellence in the world of horticulture.
Burncoose Nurseries were filled with excitement as they showcased their extraordinary plant collection at the renowned Chelsea Flower Show. The exhibit, titled "Trees of the Future," centred around non-native species carefully selected to thrive and combat the ever-changing climate in the UK. At the heart of this display was a strong commitment to sustainability, with a specific emphasis on water conservation. Many of the chosen plants possess the remarkable ability to endure longer, hotter, and drier summers without requiring additional watering. This dedication to environmentally conscious practices showcases Burncoose's passion for creating a greener and more resilient future.
Some of the plants included in the exhibit are Paulownia tomentosa, Acer Griseum, Koelreuteria paniculata, Catalpa bignonioides, Acacia pravissimia, Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’, Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’, Arbutus unedo.
Burncoose exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023
From day one Burncoose wanted to share their unique flowers and plants to everyone across the UK so they created a mail order business that meant this was easily done across the country.
To start with, they took a lot of orders for their extraordinary plants from visitors at flower shows. at this time there were no couriers, and they packed plants and sent them through the post office!
They now have an incredible mail order service, with 90% of our orders being placed through our website.