Although Eckards has been around for close to 60 years, my journey started on this side of the bridge in 1993 and in October 2023 we celebrate 30 years of memories and are taking some time to reflecting on that journey with gratitude. Eckards continues to grow and we look forward to a bright future!
Eckards has history in Bedfordview
In the 60’s and 70’s Bedfordview was a very different place. It was a fertile valley with loads of small produce farmers and nurseries. In 1969 the highway cut through the area and with the new road developments the start of what was to be the village of Bedfordview became reality with its own parks department and more. Gardening was so popular in our area with the good soil, it soon became known as the garden village. Development of clusters and more homes followed in the 80’s and Eckards was here for all of that. In 1996 when the new cable bridge went across the highway, the roads changed our neighbourhood again and we were quickly becoming the Bedfordview we see today.
In the early days Eckards was a growing nursery that supplied other nurseries and slowly the retail side grew. Today we are fully a garden centre with influences from all the modern garden centres around the world but with a nostalgic nod.
Eckards was named by its founder who did not stay here very long but it became a centre of growth and education in the industry under the next owners. Well known garden legends like Keith Kirsten and Lynton Johnson did part of their horticulture training here and our relationship with the SA Nursery Association – SANA has continued through the generations. In fact, both Wayne and Dawn have had tenures as Presidents of SANA.
Dawn Collard bought Eckards in 1992 and a year later in 1993 Wayne Stewart joined and the duo rebuilt and modernised Eckards into the garden centre we have today. Wayne became a partner in 2008 and in 2017 became the sole owner when Dawn retired. 2023 sees us celebrating 30 years as Wayne's current owners legacy.
Along the way we continue to play a role in SANA as well as being part of the Garden Pavilion group of garden centres. Both Dawn and Wayne have also led the GP Board and have also been chairpersons of the Garden Centre Association of South Africa over the years and through that, have built long standing relationships within the international garden centre community - the IGCA.Currently Wayne is the Chairperson of the SA Green Industries Council which is a broader association incompasing the whole green indusrty, as well as his continuing role of mentoring and developing new tallent in the indusrty.
We see ourselves of custodians of Eckards and know that it will be here for many years to come. As a constant in the neighbourhood, we have seen many youngsters grow up and then become customers in their own right and have new generations making Eckards their garden centre.
Eckards was awarded Garden Centre of Excellence 2023 by the South African Nursery Association. This award by SANA recognises the top 10 garden centres in South Africa annually. Having consistently featured on the GCA top garden centres in South Africa list for the past 20 years is a huge achievement as an independent garden centre.
Eckards won third place overall in the Garden Centre of the Year 2023 National competition which was a cause of huge excitement for our highly motivated team. Over the years we have won our region numerous times and continue to do our best to get to the top spot.
We are super proud to have won the coveted Garden Pavilion of the Year seven times over the years. Awards would be nothing without our team who are on the forefront of making Eckards the best it can be and for their passion it has seen them win the coveted national Staff of the year award 6 times already.
Who knows what the future holds but we truly believe that Eckards is a community garden centre at heart and with the support of our customers and friends in the green industry will continue to make a difference to our world around us. As a locally owned and owner run business, we know just how valuable the support of our community is and are extremely grateful for that support.
We’ve left gaps in our story but that’s intentional. No story is ever complete, we need blank pages to add more over time and not just from us but from all of those that grow with us.