Latest Stories

  1. Ellie’s Bulb Guide

    Ellie’s Bulb Guide

    Love a bulb, but not sure where to plant it?

    Here’s Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson on some of her favourite bulbs now, which are now available to buy from Johnsons’ Cash & Carry.

    1) Daffodil Tete-a-Tete – A miniature bright yellow daffodil growing up to 15cm tall from March to April that will do well in partial shade. Think about planting around the edge of a tree or in a pot.

    2) Crocus Ruby Giant – An early flowering Spring bulb, which flowers from February to March and will give you vibrant purple flowers at 5cm tall. They will look great naturalized on lawns.

    3) Allium Purple Sensation – Purple globes on long stems that flower from May to June. They would look great amongst ornamental grasses or in the middle of a sunny perennial border.

    4) Tulip Mistress – A beautiful pink tulip flowering in April and growing up to 60cm tall. Great planted in mass in either a mixed tulip pot or in a border situated in Partial shade or full sun.

    5) Fritillaria-meleagris – Also known as snakehead fritillary with pink / purple checkboard flowers, and flowering from April to May. Perfect in a wildflower garden or woodland.

    6) Hyacinthoides non-scripta – bell-shaped blue flowers that flower from April to May. Best in partial shade and would do great in a woodland area.

    Posted 25th Aug 12:26pm
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  2. Autumn is for planting

    Autumn is for planting

    Summer may be disappearing before our eyes, but autumn is the best time to plant bulbs.

    As we prepare for the changing of the seasons, Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson provides a step-by-step guide to planting bulbs this autumn.

    1)      Choose a bulb. Make sure you research the area you are planting. Is it shady? In full sun or partial shade? Choose snowdrops for a shady spot, tulips for full sun and daffodils for partial shade.

    2)      Plant at the right time. Don’t plant bulbs any earlier than September. They will not do well.

    3)      Dig your hole. Dig a hole three times as deep as the bulbs height. Place the bulbs at least three bulb widths apart.

    4)      Put your bulb in. Make sure the roots point down and the bottom of the bulb touches the soil.

    5)      Feed your bulb. Add empathy bulb starter to give your bulbs a head start.

    6)      Sit back and wait ‘til Spring!

    Posted 22nd Aug 3:50pm
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  3. Providing horticultural solutions for the holiday park industry

    Providing horticultural solutions for the holiday park industry

    We’re joining forces with caravan and static home parks from across the country to provide cost-effective horticultural solutions for the industry.

    Our business is offering a ‘one-stop-shop’ to parks, including the supply of plants, shrubs, hedging and trees, to enhance their look and feel, improve air quality and help create an overall greener environment.

    Our recent satisfied customers from the caravan and static home park industry include Easington Beach Holiday and Leisure Park and Sandy Beaches Holiday Park, both located in East Yorkshire.

    The hardy nature of our plants make them ideal for use in coastal areas.

    The range includes our trademark Griselinia littoralis evergreen hedge plants, which are currently being supplied at a special introductory price for new customers.

    Our regional amenity sales manager, Andrew Barker, said: “We offer a superb one-stop-shop for caravan and holiday parks. Our Griselina littoralis is a particularly great option for parks.

    “They can withstand strong gales and cold temperatures, they are tolerant of salty air, and they can be used to form a barrier to protect exotic, less hardy plants. We grow the trees in containers of a variety of sizes to suit all budgets. We’re extremely proud of the positive feedback we’ve received from our customers at Easington and Sandy Beaches already this year.”

    Easington Beach Holiday and Leisure Park director, Amos Larkham, said: “Working with Johnsons of Whixley enabled us to source plants, shrubs, hedging and trees from one place, saving us time and money, and they were also able to advise on which plants would be best suited to our environment.

    “We have been extremely pleased with the level of received and the overall quality of the products.”

    Posted 20th Aug 4:02pm
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  4. Q&A with our Chairman

    Q&A with our Chairman

    Most 80 year olds are at home reading a book or watching TV. At 79 you are still at work four or five days a week. What does an average day entail?

    My average day at work involves managing a series of administrative tasks related to quality and environmental systems, health and safety, packaging waste, agricultural census requirements, as well as answering letters with no other obvious recipient. I maintain a number of ongoing historical records and attend meetings appropriate to my role.

    How will you be celebrating turning 80 this year?

    Possibly by going out for a meal with family one evening.

    What got you interested in horticulture and what has kept you motivated all these years?

    I grew up on the traditional West Riding farm run by my mother’s family, producing cereals, vegetables and 200 acres of rhubarb. I worked from age 11 on the farm during every non-school hour. I wasn’t motivated by classroom subjects – only woodwork!

    On leaving school I applied to go to Askham Bryan College, but the principal suggested that I should go to Writtle College in Essex and do a two-year Diploma course, which I did.

    I tried salad production, tomatoes, vegetables and spent three years selling fertilizer to commercial growers before deciding to focus on nursery stock production.

    What are you most proud of?

    I’ve never owed anyone money, other than a mortgage, and I am delighted to have the family I have got.

    If you hadn’t opened a successful nursery what career path would you have gone down? 

    Almost certainly I would have gone in to some sort of mechanical engineering. Aged 16, I applied for an apprenticeship with Rolls Royce, but was turned down, as my maths results were not good enough.

    Was there any point at which you felt like quitting?

    I’ve never felt like quitting anything other than Latin!  Every time we’ve had a problem I try and see the way out, never look back and consider what we might have done differently.

    Is there anything you would have changed, knowing what you know now?

    I may have developed a garden centre if any of my sons had been motivated to run it.

    What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry over the last 50 years?

    Climate change and the impact of foreign holidays has revolutionised the range of plants now used in private gardens.  There have also been big changes around the use of plastic. 50 years ago there were no plastic pots, no poly tunnels and no polythene bags. And there were fewer summer sales because nothing was in pots.  Mechanisation has also increased significantly.

    What is the biggest change in shopping trends you have seen over the last 50 years?

    The first garden centres were seen on the outskirts of London just 50 years ago.  The first supermarkets followed soon after.  The local authorities used to order plants for their own parks departments to plant – now local authority work is almost entirely through contractors.

    Is it nice to see the different generations of the family coming into the business?

    It’s really satisfying!

    Do you have any advice for people starting out in horticulture or their own business? 

    Attack the project with fire and enthusiasm and gain as much knowledge as possible related to the entire project area you are interested in. Learn about it as much as you can. Watch every episode of Dragons’ Den and you will then realise how many people don’t know the basic facts relating to their proposals but expect support from others. You will have one or two setbacks – but skill, enthusiasm, personality and quick thinking will carry you through.  No job will be as rewarding as working for yourself.

    …and finally, will you ever retire?

    Retiring is something you do when you go to bed! I love my association with my work, the staff, our customers – and the plants! – too much to consider packing in. What would I do? I have 14 books waiting to be read, and I try and get through them, but only very slowly!


    John was in conversation with his granddaughter, Ellie Richardson.

    Posted 16th Aug 10:26am
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  5. National Allotments Week

    National Allotments Week

    It’s National Allotments Week! Many of our staff at Johnsons of Whixley have their own allotments and in line with the national celebration our colleagues Vicky, Adrian and Andrew have shared what they’ve been up to at their allotments this year.

    This year’s theme for National Allotments Week is “Growing the Movement”, which is a celebration of the hard work put in by volunteers and councils managing, creating, developing and safeguarding sites.

    To mark the week allotment groups across the UK will be opening their gates and holding barbecues, plant and produce sales, allotment tours, competitions and exhibitions, coffee mornings and afternoon teas.

    Johnsons of Whixley staff members Vicky, Adrian and Andrew, discuss what they’ve been doing at their allotments this year.

    Vicky Newell, Amenity Sales Area Manager, said:

    “This year I have grown blackcurrants, gooseberries, plums, blueberries and have made some great jams. I have also made some rhubarb gin from the vast amount of rhubarb I grow.

    “We have also grown black dwarf beans which look amazing and go green when you cook them! Andrew and I have also been growing pumpkins and have been having a competition to see whose will be the largest.

    “It has been a constant battle this year with weeds due to the warm weather and plenty of rainfall. However, on the other hand, I haven’t had to water as much this year. I think an allotment is a great way to spend time outdoors, exercise and eat healthily.”

    Adrian Price, Plant Purchaser, said:

    “It’s nice to go down to the allotment on a Sunday morning to collect a bag full of ingredients for a Sunday lunch. I even collect the eggs for the Yorkshire puds from the chickens at my allotment. The weather hasn’t been too bad this year and I’ve managed to grow much more this year on what can be a very wet plot due to the heavy clay.”

    Andrew Barker, Amenity Sales Manager, said:

    “This year I’ve been doing lots of spraying and weeding at my new plot and trailing plastic sheeting to kill weed seeds. The highlight of my plot so far this year is growing Neil the pumpkin.”

    Posted 14th Aug 3:01pm
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  6. Your summer border is not over just yet…

    Your summer border is not over just yet…

    With summer slowly disappearing before our eyes, and plants going over and ready to be cut back, there are still some late-flowering perennials, which are a must if you eager to add some much-needed late summer colour.

    Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson selects six options to consider:

    1) Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ are funnel shaped flowers as bright as a red tomato, which flower from August to September. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ will work best in a sunny herbaceous border alongside other bold colours, like Achillea or even Crocosmia ‘George Davison’. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ will reach up to 1m tall.

    2) Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ are Another Crocosmia with funnel shaped flowers in a yellow as bright as the sun. Growing slightly smaller at 80 to 90cm, Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ will sit nicely in front of its bold brother, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, until September.

    3) Rudbeckia ‘Summerina Orange’ are a stunning clump-forming perennial with rusty-coloured flowers with chocolate centres on long dark green stems. Giving colour from July to October a perfect addition to your summer border.

    4) Echinacea ‘Magnus’ is not only is a favourite of butterflies, it’s one of mine too! Fantastic daisy like bright pink flowers with bright orange centres flower from July through to September – a must have for your herbaceous border.

    5) Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ adds a fantastic splash of interest for late summer. Bright white flowers with yellow centres on long stems growing over 1 to 1.2 metres tall, which are great in partial shade, or at the back of a herbaceous border. They last from August to October.

    6) Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ are little rays of sunshine featuring golden yellow flowers with dark centres, which flower from August to October. They are ideal for a summer border, mixed with grasses.

    Posted 9th Aug 5:03pm
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  7. Tim Smith of Johnsons of Whixley shares an insight into his first year on the road, which has taken him across Europe.

    Tim Smith of Johnsons of Whixley shares an insight into his first year on the road, which has taken him across Europe.

    How have you found your first year on the road working for Johnsons?

    It has been an enjoyable year that has flown by and proved to be very different from my previous job.

    What is the difference between this job and your last job?

    My last job was Frozen food distribution, delivering to large supermarket distribution centres nationwide, on timed deliveries. They are very impersonal places where you are just a number. There was no customer interaction, unlike at Johnsons, where it is positively encouraged. I engage with customers on a daily basis and I feel like a valued member of staff.

    What has been the biggest challenge?

    As part of everyday life as a delivery driver, finding new addresses that can be in the most awkward places is a big challenge. Sometimes the places are inaccessible to the size of vehicle I am driving, so we have to sometimes think hard to find solutions.

    Where have you travelled most to in the last year?

    Holland. I go on a regular basis each month.

    What is your favourite part of the job?

    I drive a well-kept truck that I am proud of.

    Where is the furthest delivery you have done?

    I drove to Wick, which is North East Scotland, and nearly 500 miles away from Johnsons. This was to deliver Ashlea landscaping to a new school.

    If you could go anywhere in your truck where would it be?

    I would like to go into the South West more.  I don’t get the opportunity to go in that direction much.

    How do you cope with the various challenges of long-distance driving?

    Driving an HGV is unlike driving a car and it brings with it its own challenges. As a professional driver, we have many more laws to adhere to; driver’s hours to name one. Together with this, the vehicles themselves are huge advertising billboards, so concentration is imperative. The long distances are something you quickly get used to.

    Posted 7th Aug 4:32pm
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  8. August Saturday Hours

    August Saturday Hours

    August Saturday Hours

    August is a month of dry weather (supposedly) and summer holidays, as a consequence planting is at a seasonal low. In recognition of this the wholesale cash & carry will not be open for usual business on Saturday mornings throughout the month. However, should our regular customers wish to pre-arrange a collection on one of these mornings we would be delighted to help.

    Please note Johnsons Wholesale Xpress (Cash and Carry) will be closed on Saturday morning’s during August.

    Usual Saturday morning hours (8am-12pm) will resume in September.

    Posted 6th Aug 8:57am
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  9. Nursery Jottings No. 17

    Nursery Jottings No. 17

    I suppose we could say we are having a typical British summer with rain showers, wind, and dull days, all ensuring that the summer will not be a memorable one unless you live on the Cornish south coast!

    Although we seem to have had frequent rain it has not been particularly heavy, and the total for the months has been average. We had no really late frosts, and warm nights seem to have been very noticeable in recent weeks.

    The summer has seen our sales continue to exceed budget every month by very significant amounts, it was way back in 2007 since we had such a good run of positive sales. Every market we supply has been on a high, with the landscape sector in particular being very buoyant. Whilst we have now totally withdrawn our sales to Homebase, which averaged £1.2m per year, we have more than made up this loss in other areas.

    The good growing weather in the last 5 months has helped to bring on those crops which we needed to replace items which have been selling well. In all, a very satisfactory season so far.

    This is the time we get informed about plants which have failed to survive after winter planting. With garden centres it tends to relate to odd plants and we are rarely asked for replacements on the basis that their mark-up covers customer losses. We very occasionally get claims from contractors suggesting that large numbers of plants have died, but we don’t accept these claims at face value as all the different elements of a consignment only come together the day before despatch, and we have no control over what happens between delivery and planting.

    Two recent examples have been claims that a large number of heavy trees having failed, which subsequently turned out to have been planted on a site named ‘The Ings’ with no attempt to improve drainage. The site was under water at the time of planting! In the second case, 50% of plants were growing fine, and 50% on an adjacent area were not doing at all well. It turned out that on the poor area the land had been made up by several feet in a water-logged site. When we inspected the plant roots in July, the planting holes were half full of water.

    Today’s landscape architects appear to have little knowledge of either plant varieties or the conditions they require for subsequent growth. Why for example, did they choose a large number of flowering cherries on the site called ‘The Ings’ when it was obvious from the name that the site would be wet in winter and cherries hate poor drainage?

    The potential disaster if the plant disease Xylella reaches the UK continues to become more threatening as the symptoms have now been found on plants in Germany, France and Spain, subsequent to the original

    outbreak on Olive trees in the heel of Italy. Several UK nurseries, of which we are one, have made the decision not to import any plants from Italy or from the regions in other countries where single outbreaks have been identified.

    The disease, which may cause the death of over 400 species of trees and shrubs, is spread by insects feeding on the sap of plants and has the potential to wipe out whole nurseries. One of the prime hosts of Xylella is the olive tree, but these are still being imported in large quantities by supermarkets and others, who appear to believe the disease is of little consequence. It is vitally important that landscape architects and contractors are fully aware of the source of plants used on contracts, as the DEFRA Plant Health requirement will be that no plants will be moved within 10km of an outbreak (approx. 6 miles).

    We continue to see the problem of attracting motivated young people into horticultural production, they are just not interested in land based careers.  We also see the number of foreign workers tending to dry up as the value of the pound goes down and Brexit agreements seem unclear. The problem is hitting many other lower paid sectors such as hotels, retailing, building work, fruit picking etc.

    Anyone got a bright idea as to how we might cope with Brexit in view of the potential for far fewer EU workers in agriculture and other lower paid sectors?

    Please note that Johnsons Cash & Carry will not be open on Saturday mornings during the month of August.                                                

     John Richardson


     Johnsons of Whixley

    Posted 4th Aug 12:31pm
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  10. August Gardening Reminders

    August Gardening Reminders

    Here are our Gardening Reminders for the month of August.

    1)    Arrange for pots to be watered when on holiday

    2)    Give containers a liquid feed as long release fertilizer may not be

    providing enough boost to keep plants going

    3)    Provide water for wildlife

    4)    Dead-head flowering plants for maximum flower production

    5)    Collect seed from plants you wish to propagate

    6)    Prune ornamental trees such as flowering cherries. Do not cut back to

    the stem, leave the cambium collar in situ for maximum healing ability

    7)    Pot up seedlings of self-sown herbaceous plants

    8)    Plan the purchase of your bulbs for autumn planting

    9)    Collect fallen apples showing signs of brown rot. Do not compost them

    10)    Clean water filters in ponds and water features

    11)    Watch out for caterpillars on vegetable crops

    12)   Cut back new shoots of Wisteria to 3 to 4 leaves

    13)    Leave grass clippings on the lawn when dry, to act as a mulch

    14)    Prepare ground for new turf or sowing. Allow soil to settle before final

    raking, and remove weeds as they germinate. Sow seed evenly and

    protect from birds.

    15)   Prune untidy plants such as ivy-leaved pelargoniums, ceanothus,

    escallonia, lavender and rosemary.

    16)   Stop outdoor tomatoes when four to five trusses have set and reduce

    foliage of glasshouse tomatoes to allow fruit to ripen.

    Posted 2nd Aug 1:55pm
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  11. Johnsons of Whixley production manager, Ian Nelson, shares an insight into Photinia varieties, and examines the issues affecting this area of discussion.

    Johnsons of Whixley production manager, Ian Nelson, shares an insight into Photinia varieties, and examines the issues affecting this area of discussion.

    Photinia is one of the ten most popular plants for private gardens and maybe in the top 25 for landscape.

    It gets used in a number of ways – from a lollipop stem to hedging

    Red Robin is the name everyone knows, but it is not an entirely stable variety.

    By that, I mean that Red Robin is by no means always the same in its form or habit; that is dictated by the mother stock (the plants where cutting material was collected), and by where the plant was grown, geographically.

    Therefore, the Red Robin you buy may not, at maturity, have the characteristics that match the purpose you bought it for

    This ‘instability’ is not all bad because a number of ‘sports’ have been thrown up by growing nursery plants.

    These have then been propagated and led to a range of named varieties – Pink Marble, Little Red Robin, Louise Maclarlou and Palette are just a few of those more better known.

    From the nursery’s point of view, we need to source a propagator who has a good stand of mother stock, which is true-to-type, regularly refreshed and constantly monitored.

    The supplier needs to be wholly reputable.

    For Red Robin, we have this reliability that consistently results in a branched and bushy plant.

    What we will never have is what I would call the Italian-style, heavy stems and very upright, plant.

    Getting that young plant reliability in Little Red Robin has proved difficult. There is always habit variation.

    Through trimming, you can produce a very acceptable plant for time of sale but ultimately will the natural habit of the mother stock, which may be unruly, return.

    I’m fortunate that one of my trade associates is an extremely reputable young plant producer who makes a recently introduced variety called Carre Rouge, and he has a large stand of stock plants, which are very much ‘peas-in-a-pod’.

    This is a short / medium growing bush variety that responds really well to crude clipping (hedgetrimming, shearing), throwing out a fresh flush of bright red leaf.

    It could be used to form a mat of red-topped evergreen, or as a stand-alone patio or garden bush.

    It also has a dense hedge up to 1.5, maybe 2, metres.

    It is a brighter red more of the time and, when not flushing, it is an interesting combination of ‘russety’ shades.

    I’ve not quite made up my mind what is more influential, weather or soils, on colour intensity.

    We’ve started to build our numbers of Carre Rouge over the last eight months and for Spring 2018 there will be fair availability

    Posted 1st Aug 11:57am
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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

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Johnsons of Whixley Ltd

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

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