Specialising in breeding patio plants grown from cuttings, Kerley & Co has grown from a garden greenhouse experiment by husband and wife team David and Priscilla Kerley, to a family business with a worldwide audience. Most of the research takes place in a greenhouse range near the university city of Cambridge.
As a family, and with our employees, we try to bring beautiful and innovative new flowers to the patio plant market.
The Priscilla Story
David Kerley worked for more than 25 years in the packet seed industry. As a side-line hobby, he bred a number of seed-raised flowers and vegetables. He showed his wife Priscilla the steps to take in breeding: she pollinated a petunia, collected the seed and the following year grew the seedlings. Her first attempt was to result in the world’s first ever double trailing, scented petunia.
Aptly named ‘Priscilla’, this petunia launched their Cambridgeshire-based family business by fast becoming a sought-after component of hanging baskets around the world. The demand led to further colours being developed, starting the Tumbelina series. There are now more than 20 colours and colour combinations of Tumbelina double flowered petunias available.
‘Priscilla’ entered its 20th season on the market in Spring 2016 and remains the top global seller in its class, with distribution in more than 20 countries. Fittingly, the Royal Horticultural Society bestowed its prestigious Award of Garden Merit on Tumbelina ‘Priscilla’ in time for the anniversary year, in recognition that ‘Priscilla’ “performs reliably in the garden”.
Distinguished by its pastel mauve scented flowers, heavily veined with violet, the veteran variety is renowned for the profusion of its blooms produced under varying weather conditions. The cascading floral display is spread across the whole of the plant – not just the ends of the lateral shoots – and has set the standard for the other Petunias that have followed in this series.
In 1998, David and Priscilla Kerley founded the company. Son Tim joined as a plant breeder in 2007 having completed his degree in Horticulture at Reading University and after working in the Netherlands and USA. Tim’s wife Sarah joined the family business in 2016 as the paper work and marketing side of the business continued to grow. Together we manage a small but growing family business.
David Kerley (Plant breeder/ crop developer / licensing / accounts)
Priscilla Kerley (Breeder support / personnel)
Tim Kerley (Plant breeder / crop developer / site manager)
Sarah Kerley (Press and marketing, accounts)
However, we have also been busy over the past 20 years bringing other plants to the market.
We like to be different! We strive to bring novel features to each crop we work in. Examples of this include:
- Belarina, the popular double, long flowering garden primula
- Balconita, the world’s first truly trailing Pansy
- PowerDaisy, a new interspecific, long flowering, disease tolerant plant
If you visit our site today, as well as being greeted by the four partners, you are likely to stumble across a third generation of keen nursery boys who are making their presence known! Tim and Sarah’s sons, more keen to ‘help’ Daddy than play with toys.
We hope the future of Kerley & Co will be to delight and inspire gardeners the world over with easy to grow stunning colours, innovative ideas and surprising new plants over many more years.