Gale Nurseries started in 1927 as a result of the onset of the great depression. Charles H. Gale II lost his job as a glass cutter and decided to work with his brother Harry who was an estate gardener along Philadelphia’s waterfront. The siblings were able to scrape together enough landscape work, which allowed them to purchase a Model T truck. In the mid 1930’s their sons Charlie and Bob joined them in the business until they were called to serve in World War II.
During World War II both fathers had passed away leaving Charles and Bob with the family business. The post war housing boom gave way to thousands of new homes sprouting up on the farmland of the Philadelphia suburbs, which provided many opportunities in the landscaping business.
In 1955 the cousins decided that they wanted to dissolve their partnership and go their separate ways. That same year, Charlie moved the family out of the city into a house on seven acres in Lower Gwynedd Township, property that is still home to Gale Nurseries today.
Charlie Gale took the name Gale Nurseries and continued working in garden maintenance until 1963 when a major shift took place. An accountant friend of Charlie’s told him for years “If you can get the lawnmower out of your hand you will be more successful”. The evolution from garden maintainer to garden creator did not happen overnight.
In 1963 Charlie was able to take his friends advice, and with three employees began doing landscape design and installation. By the early 1970’s through a combination of coursework and work experience, Charlie had accumulated enough knowledge and expertise to receive his Landscape Architecture license. Later, Charlie was honored to serve on the same licensing board that had granted its seal of approval on his work.
This time Chuck, Charlie’s son, had graduated from Delaware Valley College and was working with his father. In the mid 1970’s during a flight over the Main Line, Chuck realized this was where Gale Nurseries needed to expand. Then, through their association with the Philadelphia Flower Show the Gales were recommended to John T. Dorrance Jr., son of the founder of Campbell Soup Company, who hired them to design gardens on his Gladwyne property.
Soon, word of mouth recommendations led the Gales to many other Main Line clients, a mode of advertising they still depend on today. Now, more than 80% of the company’s business in Pennsylvania is on the Main Line. “But that does not say that we won’t go other places for a really nice job”, Chuck says. Gale Nurseries has designed and project managed gardens from Nantucket down to Florida. They even designed a garden in Brittany, France.
Chuck Gale became president of Gale Nurseries in 1977 after Charlie passed away. Daughter Christine Gale joined Gale Nurseries in 2008 after completing her Master’s in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts. Christine and Chuck have been very involved with Bucks Beautiful. Chuck is currently a member of the board and created the Bulbs for Bucks program, which has just met its goal of planting 1M bulbs throughout Bucks County. Christine, who coordinated the project was recognized as a member of the Intelligencer/Courier Time’s 2014 class of the 40 top business leaders in Bucks and Montgomery County under the age of 40.
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