Latest Stories

  1. Painting the Forth Road Bridge

    Painting the Forth Road Bridge

    As the painters near completion their attention turns to starting again – the description has become the ultimate example of a never-ending cycle.

    The same description applies perfectly to our potting and production cycle which is forever churning out millions of consistently high quality plants and is always in a perpetual state of planning for future seasons.

    This year 2016/17 is no different potting is progressing well and is comfortably exceeding output when compared to last year. I estimate that we are 35% through and already finalising numbers for production in 2017/18!

    Newly potted 2L Lavender as far as the eye can see.

    Posted 28th Feb 11:32am
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  2. Ellie's eight great for wildlife

    Ellie's eight great for wildlife

    Check out Ellie’s eight great for wildlife, these varieties were full of bees and butterflies last year as you can see from the photos. Be sure to include them in your planting plans for summer borders.


    Echinacea Magus the perfect addition to a sunny perennial border flowering from July – September it’s a bee and butterflies favourite and thrives in full sun.

    Agastache ‘black adder’ great for the back of a border to create height throughout the summer flowering in July right through to October it would great behind Echinacea Magnus in a sunny border.

    Buddleia varieties – There’s a reason Buddleia’s are also known as butterfly bush and that’s because there a butterflies favourite they will thrive in full sun or partial shade and will flower from June through to October.

    Scabiosa ‘Pink Mist’ These scabiosa’s were full of bees last year and are sure to be full of them this summer when they flower in June – September.

    Achillea ‘Terracotta’ look great in a perennial border alongside salvias, and will flower from June – September. It will be full of bees.

    Lavender Hidcote – in a study it was found that lavenders were one of the most attractive plants to bees, our lavender are always full of bees throughout July – September they make a great edging plant in a border.

    Coreopsis Sunfire a great addition to a sunny border or patio pot flowering from June – October it’s perfect for attracting bees and butterflies to your garden.

    Erysimum ‘Golden Jubilee’ one for bees and butterflies preferring full sun or partial shade.

    Posted 28th Feb 11:30am
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  3. Return of Oystercatchers herald the start of spring!

    Return of Oystercatchers herald the start of spring!

    There are few events in the Johnsons calendar as significant as the annual return of our Oystercatcher community.

    We spotted our first this year on Wednesday 15th February, which is very early!

    Every year (for at least 15 years) we have waited in anticipation, as the birds’ arrival generally heralds the start of spring, better weather and increased light levels. Hurrah!

    Despite usually being found around coastal wading locations; our Oystercatchers seem to enjoy the view from the top of the nursery.

    And our staff have become acutely aware of their presence due to their eerie cry, and tendency to swoop and divebomb those encroaching on their long-established territory!

    Welcome back!

    Posted 23rd Feb 11:56am
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  4. There’s a buzz about Johnsons!

    There’s a buzz about Johnsons!

    Following recent discussions with Harrogate & Ripon Beekeepers Association, we’re proud to announce that we will soon be keeping our own beehives on the open ground at the top of the nursery.

    Both parties agreed that the thousands of varieties of plants, and our idyllic location, make our site the perfect place to host beehives on behalf of the Association.

    We can’t wait to welcome the beehives in early spring, and who knows – we may soon be producing our very own ‘Johnsons Of Whixley Honey’!

    Posted 21st Feb 2:07pm
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  5. Nursery Jottings No. 14

    Nursery Jottings No. 14

    January 2017 had exactly a half of the rainfall which occurred in 2016 (48mm v 97mm) and it was also a month which was pretty unique for January, where we saw the lightest of snow coverings on only one day, and frosts have been relatively limited.

    Sales to garden centres tend to be limited in February, and this has definitely been the case, but we expect to beat garden centre budget for the month by Feb. 24th.  Sales to the amenity sector continue apace, it is obvious that all parts of the country have been free of ice and snow and contractors have made good progress. With a winter free of bad weather, we expected our order book to be in decline into the Spring, but we continue to replace all our sales with new orders.

    Having spent my youth in vegetable production and my later life in ornamental plant production, I can safely say that I have had a working life in horticulture, but recently I was again referred to as a horticulturalist, quite a tongue twister!  The correct name for our ilk is ‘horticulturist’, not that it makes us any more successful or uniqe, after all we don’t call florists ‘floralists’!

    I spotted a really interesting book last week, ‘Hedge Britain’, a curious history of a British obsession, by Hugh Barker.  New price is £16.99 but a good copy on Amazon was £5.  It features drawings and photos of  an enormous range of hedge species, shapes and forms, together with the origins of the first hedge applications and its formation from the original wildwood as a way marker and defensive barrier.

    How things change, at this time of year 30 years ago, we would have been getting out our home-made planting machine to plant 75,000 cuttings of willows in about 15 varieties as there was great demand for the wide selection of stem colours available, not sure if today’s landscape architects are even aware of the use of such plants, we certainly don’t get asked for many. Those were the days, four of us on the machine behind the tractor, pushing cuttings into the ground behind a row marker.  Back-breaking, cold, nose running, only another 20,000 to go!!

    One of the most satisfying plants I have ever propagated from cuttings is Metasequoia glyptostroboides, which was believed to be extinct for 2 million year until it was found in a remote valley in China in 1948. I first saw it as a young tree about 5ft high in 1955 at Cambridge Botanic Gardens. It is one of the few deciduous conifers and has lush green foliage, cinnamon-red bark and becomes very tall and majestic. I have had one in every garden I have owned.

    I went to the west coast of America looking at nurseries with the Hort. Trades Association in 1977. We saw the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests which stretch from California for over 400 miles into southern Oregon.  The size of them is awe-inspiring, they can reach over 320ft. in height with a girth of up to 18ft.  I doubt if I will see my Metasequoia reach that size!! An interesting fact is that such tall trees cannot transport water from ground level to the uppermost branches by the normal process of osmosis, they rely on the mist and fog which rolls in off the Pacific to keep the branches turgid, which is the reason for them being limited to a 30mile wide strip along the coast.

    For the time being, news of impending disease spread has become quieter, but we are aware that Xylella continues to head north and has been found in Spain, Mallorca, south of France, and an isolated case in a garden in Germany. It seems ridiculous that UK retailers are now making promotional moves to sell big quantities of olive trees in the UK, this tree is the biggest contractor of the disease in Europe, and the virus is transmitted by leafhoppers, a common UK insect. If every nursery in the UK must be closed down if there is an infected plant found within 10Km, then heaven help us.

    Brexit is becoming an increasing source of concern as the number of existing foreign staff leave the UK to return to other EU countries in order to earn the full value of the Euro. Fortunately we have not suffered yet, but a busy Spring could be a big problem for both our production and sales, and also for our customers.

    May the Spring be kind to you, and the grass grow no faster than you can cope with!!

    John Richardson

    Posted 21st Feb 9:38am
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  6. Ian Nelson's February Nursery update

    Ian Nelson's February Nursery update

    The last two weeks have been very ‘sciencey’ – a number of times I’ve been in discussion with professionals who talk in a language frequently beyond my understanding.

    But these are people who want to be involved in the future of UK growing and we have communicated in a way that we can all follow.

    The background of fewer new crop protection chemicals is in the short-term an everyday challenge but in the longer-term makes you think much more inventively about how you are going to be growing healthy plants.

    I see the interaction with high-level science as an essential part of that thinking process.

    I’m not for giving much away in detail about the things we’ve been looking at.

    When I was first in growing there was an ethos of ‘sharing’ knowledge across the discipline but that is less evident now and in the business we have to cultivate competitive advantage.

    You are more precious about what you’ve worked hard to know.

    The annual turnover-based levy that we are legally obliged to pay is for universal research for the industry and we’ve put plenty in that pot.

    One of these recent meetings got me thinking that going back to home propagation (which we stopped for sound reasons ten years ago) could now be worthwhile, successful and cost-effective.

    With all the recently recognised pests and diseases around Europe it leads you to think that keeping as much as possible in-house increases our security.

    Another showed there could be marriage between high science and low-tech to bring control to Vine Weevil.

    The ability to understand their behaviour and the signals that they send to one another was enlightening.

    The solution to control an insidious pest may be very simple and lie in low-cost tech after all, and could in time save all growers heaps of money.

    For ages it’s been accepted that if you are a nursery that does hundreds of different products then significantly advancing your techniques and equipment is very difficult, and dubious both in cost and benefit.

    A meeting at the back end of last week convinced me otherwise.

    OK – there’s lots and lots of work to do but ultimately multi-cropping could be controlled to the same degree as is the case with mono-cropping now.

    I also took our ‘Growing Stars’ – the staff that we hope could be the next generation of key players – to Stockbridge Technology Centre to let them see how the Diagnostic Department works and view some of the research work happening there.

    Stockbridge have been the pioneers of LED lighting and how different waves of light can be used to promote different reactions in plants.

    Most of their work relates to edibles production but there is spin-off into ornamentals, and you can see potential, not only in propagation, but also in crop-manipulation.

    It was quite eye-opening for the ‘Growing Stars’, who were not so aware of the possibilities that are being investigated.

    Back on planet earth the Retail Plant Market is coming out of hibernation and we are busy supplying garden centres.

    It seems a week or two earlier than usual, and there’s some nice stuff going out on trolleys.

    This week I am putting down the first round of flowering herbaceous and we pot a further batch of ‘additionals’ for landscape following another review of stock levels

    Evergreen shrubs in bigger pots seem to have been particular popular again after a few years where demand had reduced.

    Going on to the nursery now for a bit of peace and quiet – as the office is getting busy!

    Ian Nelson

    Posted 21st Feb 9:35am
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  7. Celebrating three decades of business with Wentworth Garden Centre

    Celebrating three decades of business with Wentworth Garden Centre

    We’re celebrating 30 years of being in business with Wentworth Garden Centre!

    We’ve established relationships with clients from across a number of sectors through our amenities, garden centre sales and cash and carry services.

    And our relationship with Wentworth Garden Centre is one such relationship with roots tracing back years.

    We first worked alongside each other in the Wentworth Garden Centre’s first months as a business, providing high-quality stock at attractive rates.

    The relationship has continued since then, and we recently supplied Yew (Taxus Baccata) to the Garden Centre as part of the renovation of their ‘Millennium Maze’

    Tony Airey, Director at Wentworth Garden Centre, said: “Johnsons have been a long standing supplier of quality hardy plants to Wentworth Garden Centre, and they had the faith in the business when we first acquired it in 1984 to restock the centre on very favourable terms.
    “Our relationship with Johnsons blossomed since then, on the basis that they always deliver excellent plant material and a first class service.

    “Our recent project around our Millennium Maze has been no exception. The Yew is of a high quality and has been supplied on favourable terms.”

    Wentworth Garden Centre initially helped to redesign and replant the Millennium Maze in 2000, decades after it was initially dug out shortly after WWII.

    The maze is located with the historical walled gardens at Wentworth.

    Garden centre sales manager Mark Reynard said: “Many of our customers come back to us year after year, and we are proud of our long-standing relationship with Wentworth Garden Centre.

    “Both organisations have changed and developed over the last three decades, but still share and uphold the same principles around quality and service.”

    Posted 20th Feb 9:00am
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  8. Dwarf Conifer surprise

    Dwarf Conifer surprise

    This huge Cedar of Lebanon with a 65cm girth (at 1m) is sure to create a statement in any garden. Let’s hope the customer has more than an estate car and a big spade at the other end! Isla and 15L Mahonia help create a sense of scale.

    “We assumed Dwarf Conifer meant small –  not that it dwarfs everything in sight!”

    Posted 17th Feb 3:24pm
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  9. Ellie's eight great for ground cover

    Ellie's eight great for ground cover

    Alchemilla mollis has rounded light green leaves with green-yellow small flowers flowering from June through to August it is known for growing in many conditions and is a fully hardy perennial it is great for ground cover in borders.

    Alchemilla mollis

    Vinca minor is well known for its capability in ground covering with its pretty star like blue flowers appearing through spring, summer and autumn. It even grows well in deep shade.

    Vinca minor

    Persicaria Darjeeling red is a late summer flowering ground cover also known as knotweed it is well known for its crimson upright flowers which can be seen from September through to November. It will thrive best in well-drained soil in full – partial shade.

    Persicaria affine Darjeeling Red

    Waldsteinia ternata a semi evergreen creeping ground cover with yellow flowers against its green foliage they are great alongside a path or for edging a border under a tree or banking.

    waldstinia ternata

    Pachysandra terminalis is a great low maintenance evergreen ground cover happiest in partial – full shade with small white flowers in Spring.

    Pachysandra terminalis

    Cornus canadensis also known as creeping dogwood is best grown in full sun – partial shade not only do they provide pretty white flowers in late spring – early summer they follow with clusters of bright red berries in autumn.

    cornus canadensis

    Cotoneaster dammeri a vigorous evergreen ground cover best in full sun or partial shade with wide spreading growth with small white flowers in early summer which are particularly attractive to bees and bright red berries in winter which help feed the birds.

    Cotoneaster dammeri

    Hedera hibernica will thrive in most soil types and can be used as ground cover once the shoots are pinned down. They are very fast growing and may need more attention than other ground cover variety’s to stop them growing out of control.

    Hedera hibernica

    Posted 17th Feb 1:39pm
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  10. Despatch Assistant Vacancy

    Despatch Assistant Vacancy

     Despatch Assistant

    Location: York

    Hours: 39 hrs per week

    Monday to Thursday 7.30-4.00, Friday 7.30-3.00 but flexibility required

    Salary: £7.60 per hour as a minimum but will increase dependent on experience.

    We need a Despatch Assistant who can take a proactive role in assisting with the smooth running of our Despatch Unit.

    You must have:

    • A full driving licence
    • Great organisation skills to deal with a variety of tasks
    • Literacy and numeracy skills
    • Be able to work as part of a team as well as on your own

    If you have worked in a despatch team before that would be an advantage, but it’s not essential.

    Due to the nature of our operations, the ability to work flexibly, both within the standard working day or week and beyond, and to participate in additional working as and when required is essential.

    The duties of the job will involve regular lifting of heavy items, bending and twisting.

    Application process –  please email your CV to Christine Davis

    Click here to view the job description

    Click here to view the employee specification

    Posted 15th Feb 11:20am
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  11. Apprentice Business Administrator

    Apprentice Business Administrator

    View apprenticeship posting here.

    Admin Business Administration

    • Processing sales orders / purchases orders and related tasks
    • Taking Retail orders over the telephone
    • Change and update paperwork
    • Manage relevant filing systems
    • Answering the telephone and transferring to the most appropriate person
    • Carry out general administration tasks within the office assisting in other departments where necessary

    Health and Safety

    Ensure that you remain compliant with health and safety regulations and accepted safe practice at all times. Report any health and safety issues or contraventions witnessed anywhere within the business to your Manager or in their absence the Health and Safety Coordinator or a Director.


    • Participate in other administrative duties as and when required
    • Comply with all policies and procedures within the company
    • Carry out all duties with regard to and ensuring equal opportunity
    • Work with all employees within the company in the fulfillment of our aims

    Desired skills

    • Ability to work on own initiative
    • Excellent communication skills at all levels
    • Good telephone manner
    • Good listener
    • Good keyboard skills
    • Knowledge and understanding of Microsoft Word & Excel
    • Team worker

    Personal qualities

    • Conscientiousness
    • Well presented
    • Friendly
    • Positive outlook
    • Outgoing personality
    • Confidence in communicating
    • Willing to cover a range of tasks as required
    • Willing to learn new skills

    Qualifications required

    GCSE or equivalent Maths and English A*-C

    Future prospects

    Career progression for the right person after the apprenticeship.

    Weekly wage

    Working week
    08.30-4.30 Mon-Thurs and 08.30-3.30 Fri
    Total hours per week: 39.00

    Apprenticeship duration

    12 months

    Possible start date
    To be agreed

    Apprenticeship level
    Intermediate Level Apprenticeship

    Reference number

    1 available

    Posted 14th Feb 2:26pm
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  12. The clock is ticking on bare root season

    The clock is ticking on bare root season

    The clock is ticking!

    Time is running out on the root ball and bare root season, with just six weeks remaining to make purchases before we’re back to selling container-grown hedging.

    Here are four great reasons to plant now:

    1. It’s cheaper – In the vast majority of instances, a bare root and root ball hedge will be cheaper than it is in a container.
    2. It’s the best time of the year to plant – You will have a better success rate if you plant now instead of from a container in summer.
    3. There’s more variety – More hedging varieties are available in the bare root and root ball season.
    4. It’s easier to plant – It’s much more convenient planting bare root instead of lots of different container plants.



    Posted 10th Feb 12:37pm
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  13. Ellie's Eight for Valentine's Day

    Ellie's Eight for Valentine's Day

    With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this edition of Ellie’s Eight focuses on plants with a love them.

    All of the plants listed can be found at our Cash & Carry or in the wider nursery.

    1. Why not try a Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’? It’s known for its unusual deep pink-red flowers that blossom from March through to May against their dark green glossy leaves.
    2. Spread the love with these Dicentra spectablis, also known as bleeding heart. Rose pink heart-shaped flowers appear from spring through to early summer, making them the perfect addition to any cottage border.
    3. The Hebe heartbreaker is a perfect addition to a pot or front border, and guaranteed to bring colour and character to your garden throughout the year. It produces mauve flowers from June to August.
    4. Plant this Veronica ‘First love’ for someone you love. Numerous spikes of fluorescent pink flowers keep butterflies and bees happy from early summer through to mid-autumn.
    5. Send some love and happiness with this Exochorda × ‘The Bride’ would make a perfect wedding present, especially between April and May, when it will be full with white open flowers.
    6. Hibiscus ‘Red Heart’ are trumpet-shaped white flowers with a red centre that attract butterflies and even hummingbirds. It also can be infused to make a citrus flavoured tea. Ideal for your patio pot.
    7. Most Mahonias are known to be prickly but Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ isn’t. It features fantastic spikes of fragrant golden blooms against green spine free foliage. No wonder it won “Plant of the Year” at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 – It’d make a great addition to a border or patio pot.
    8. Last, but not least, Heuchera Little Cutie ‘Blondie’ would make the perfect addition to a border with its caramel foliage and creamy blonde flowers.

    Posted 10th Feb 11:44am
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  14. Chris Myers' February guest blog

    Chris Myers' February guest blog

    Hi I’m Chris, I’m a garden designer and together with my team of merry helpers we build the gardens I design, maintain them & maintain and develop other gardens of varying maturity.

    My interest in gardening & the outdoors came at a very young age, earliest memories include an old bath full of swimming bugs, an allotment and a Polish Grandad who could pickle, preserve and grow almost anything.

    Mother Nature was like an extra member of my family. There were annual bilberry picking forages, strawberry patch sibling rivalries, a family garden ripped up to plant veggies and a lot of time spent roaming, rambling and poking around outdoors. Maybe it was a foregone thing that at some point I was going to have to get digging too.

    The bug of being outdoors started with the weekly adventure of going to Grandad’s allotment. It took two buses to get here but another, wilder, world lay in wait. Hours would pass by in which grubby knee’d I would discover a world of dirt, soil and stuff that grew. Slowly but surely I learned a trick or two from Grandad, who after being injured in World War Two had come to Britain. His example of grow your own clearly rubbed off. It wasn’t long before I had my own plot at home and was attempting to outsmart my sister with a bumper crop.

    Growing up in rural North Yorkshire, I was allowed to mooch about the countryside. Poking my nose into a wild landscape. This set me up with a lifelong interest in discovering what was going on out there. I started to be immersed in the growing season and knew what was coming and going. I sat by riverbanks and canals fishing, I explored hedgerows and I wandered the moors. When I returned home with a ripe swag of juicy ripe bilberries after the summer forage marathon jam making sessions would follow. These were early lessons in self-sufficiency and a taste of being amongst the wild things that would later shape what I do.

    4x4 Fishing

    You can kind of see from this how I now find myself as a gardener living Off Grid in the wilds of the Yorkshire Dales!!!

    In my next blog I’ll tell you a bit about how I progressed from enthusiastic child/teenager to modern day designer, how a chance opportunity saw me ending up designing gardens for corporate sponsors at flower shows all over the UK, how this has affected the work I do & how it all led to my being on TV, another chance opportunity that came totally out of the blue (green!!)

    Keep Digging!!!…if it’s not too frosty!


    Chris Myers

    Posted 2nd Feb 11:25am
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  15. Outside the box

    Outside the box

    Due to the ever-increasing problems of box blight, we have thought outside the ‘box’ with these Buxus sempervirens alternatives.

    Try Sarcococca confusa for a fragrant evergreen hedge.  It grows up to 60cm tall, in sun or partial shade.

    Sarcococca Confusa

    Give Lonicera nitida a go. It forms a dense, fast-growing evergreen hedge and can be trimmed into various topiary shapes.

    Lonicera Nitida

    Why not try evergreen Berberis? Especially stenophylla, it forms a prickly, fast-growing hedge. Trim after flowering to keep it dense.

    Berberis x stenophylla

    Give Ilex crenata a try. With its small glossy leaves, it has a similar appearance to Buxus and can make an attractive parterre.

    Ilex Crenata

    Use Euonymus ‘Green Spire’. Its green foliage is an ideal substitute for Buxus and it will easily trim into a low hedge.

    Posted 2nd Feb 10:21am
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Opening Times for Deliveries and Collections

Monday 8am - 4.30pm
Tuesday 8am - 4.30pm
Wednesday 8am - 4.30pm
Thursday 8am - 4.30pm
Friday 8am - 4.30pm
Saturday 8am - 12pm
Sunday Closed

Visit our 200 acre nursery

Set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, why not visit our nursery to discover what we have to offer?


Johnsons of Whixley Ltd

Gilsthwaite Ln,
Kirk Hammerton,
North Yorkshire,
YO26 8AQ,
United Kingdom

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