Office staff tuck into honey from onsite apiary

Office staff tuck into honey from onsite apiary

September 6th, 2019 by

Our staff are tucking into some delicious honey treats this week – produced by thousands of their co-workers.

The number of bees at our on-site apiary has increased to 800,000 this summer, with the creatures helping to pollinate flowering plants at our main 50-acre site, that produces more than a million plants every year.

The bees are managed by Keith Simmonds, Vice President of Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers, who said that the bees, Johnsons and most importantly the environment all benefited from their presence in equal measure.

He said honeybees contributed significantly to our economy, helping plants to grow and produce food by transferring pollen between flowering plants. The majority of plants we need for food rely on pollination, particularly by bees.

It is estimated that bees will fly 55,000 miles to make a single pound of honey – the equivalent of going around the world more than twice.

Staff from our Johnsons office are tucking into honey on toast to celebrate National Honey Month this September.

Graham Richardson, Group Managing Director at Johnsons of Whixley, said: “ What could be better than fortifying our staff with honey harvested via our own bees, pollen and ultimately the plants that they have so carefully tended in the recent month – a truly efficient food cycle!”

Want to find out more about our bees? Click here  

National Honey Month Competition

National Honey Month Competition

September 2nd, 2019 by

This month is National Honey Month and to celebrate we are giving away a hamper that includes honey from our beehives. To enter, simply like our Facebook page and comment with a bee emoji 🐝

National Honey Month Competition

  1. The promotor is Johnsons of Whixley Ltd
  2. Entrants must like the Johnsons of Whixley Facebook page and have liked and commented on the post as requested to be in with a chance to win.
  3. The competition is open to all UK residents aged over 18 and above.
  4. There is only one prize available (1 x bee hamper). The contents include:  2 jars of honey, 1 x Lavender Hidcote, 1 x  Echinacea ‘Delicious Candy’, 1 x Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and a bag of Mini Meadow.
  5. Multiple entries from the same applicant will be discounted.
  6. The prize is as stated, no cash or alternative prize is available.
  7. The winner will be picked at random from all eligible entries.
  8. The competition will close at noon on Monday 9th September
  9. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 10th September on the Johnsons of Whixley Facebook page.
  10. Winners will be asked for their details for collection.
  11. Winners will receive their prize on collection.
  12. The winners are allowed up to five calendar days to claim the prize from the date they are announced. If the winner fails to come forward than the prize shall be forfeited.
  13. Entrants who did not win will not be contacted.
  14. Johnsons of Whixley will not take responsibility for any failure to the plant once the prize is received, replacements cannot be issued.
  15. If you are a winner, the promoter may request you to participate in any publicity or promotion organised by the promoter including promotional photographs.
  16. The promoter reserves the right to withdraw this offer or amend these Terms and Conditions at any time without notice.
  17. In the event of any dispute regarding the Terms and Conditions, the conduct, results and any other matters relating to this prize draw, the decision of the promoter shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.
  18. By entering applicants agree to the above terms and conditions.
Johnsons brings a touch of Chile to Yorkshire

Johnsons brings a touch of Chile to Yorkshire

August 15th, 2019 by

We have recently added to our blooming repertoire with the launch of a new Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ plant line, just in time for our new catalogue in September.

The award-winning plant, which originally derives from Chile, has been carefully cultivated over the winter by production manager Ian Nelson and the rest of our team.

He put the plant through multiple tests, finding it able to withstand harsh conditions, require minimal care, as well as being suitable for use across a range of soil conditions.

‘Angel Wings’ is identifiable by its striking silver leaves and silky touch. It is also drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant, making it the perfect addition to a coastal garden.

We debuted ‘Angel Wings’ on our stand at the National Plant Show in June where it attracted widespread attention.

‘Angel Wings’, which has also been seen in the Falklands and Argentina, was first discovered by plant developer Lyall Fieldes on a trip to the Patagonia region of Chile. It has since made its mark on the European market, winning a bronze medal at the Netherlands Plantarium in 2016 and the Glee new product award in 2017.

Ian Nelson,  Production Manager said “We always strive to provide something unique and beautiful that will bring something special to a garden or larger-scale project.

“As ‘Angel Wings’ is a very robust plant, it is perfect for most growing conditions, while still maintaining its soft and delicate appearance. It requires very little care due to its durable nature and will add a gorgeous touch to flower beds and pots alike.”

Garden Centre Sales Assistant Manager, Paul Lamb, added:  “We are delighted to be able to offer the sought-after Senecio ‘Angels Wings’ to our customers. We are launching with a 5L version, and as we head into 2020 we will have the plant available in both a 3L and a 5L size.”If you’d like to find out more about Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ click here to contact a sales rep today

 

Wholesale Xpress cash & carry celebrates its best trading year ever

Wholesale Xpress cash & carry celebrates its best trading year ever

August 7th, 2019 by

Our Wholesale Xpress trade cash and carry division is celebrating its best year yet, following a 32% rise in revenue.

The unit is run by a third-generation family member, Luke Richardson, and is a one-stop-shop for horticultural professionals in Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.

The cash and carry have seen revenue rise by 32% compared to the previous year and experienced a significant increase in customers. To further support the impressive business growth, Johnson’s have employed an additional two members of staff to fulfil the surge in demand.

With only one year in the role as cash and carry manager, Luke Richardson said: “Revenue saw its biggest incline through spring, following small incremental improvements made to our quoting system, tills and the general appearance of the store. We also increased our product offering by 29% which resulted in the sale of a further 134,311 plants.

“With our sights already set on next year, our focus is firmly on consolidation, given the uncertainty of Brexit and its potential knock-on effect to our industry”

The trade cash & carry is located 2.5 miles from the A1, Junction 47 and offers a one-stop trade shop to landscape contractors and gardeners, garden designers, tree surgeons, estates, hotels, wedding venues, caravan parks and universities in Yorkshire and beyond.

Supported by the wider nursery business and with strong links to UK & European suppliers, the trade cash and carry unit boasts a wide range of products including shrubs, herbaceous, trees, hedges, climbers and seasonal lines to suit all.

A recent plant supply by the cash and carry included an impressive order of plants to restore the grounds of the new 5-star Grantley Hall Hotel. Varieties included a number of large topiary, including Fagus (Beech) domes and Buxus (Box) balls, as well as thousands of herbaceous, shrubs and grasses used for decorative borders, large hedging elements were also supplied to create partitions in the Hall’s gardens.

You can read more about the Grantley Hall supply here

Garden visits with Helen Taylor Garden Design

Garden visits with Helen Taylor Garden Design

July 26th, 2019 by

Earlier this month we joined Helen Taylor Garden Design for her annual Garden Visits Day to see recently completed gardens in the Ilkley area.  As a supplier to Helen, it was a great opportunity to see many of our plant supplies in their final destination and to see how they have been used.

Sales Administrator of our Wholesale Xpress department, Alice Knowles, and Marketing Co-ordinator, Eleanor Richardson, attended the garden visits alongside other suppliers of Helen Taylor Garden Design with prospective & current clients.

Growing produce, Burley in Wharfedale

The day of garden visits started in Burley in Wharfedale, with a south-facing garden remodelled to create a space focused on growing produce. The design included raised hardwood beds filled with vegetable plants, and trained fruit trees growing against a fence. The garden also featured a  Rhino greenhouse, carrots growing in bins and hostas surrounding a pond.

An enviable front garden, Burley in Wharfedale

The second garden on Moor Lane had a large, front sunny bed edging the large driveway. The planting combinations by Helen Taylor Garden Design were just stunning, making use of some lovely combinations, with mass planting of Lavandula ‘Alba’ and Rosa Kent at the entrance to the drive, and the main border consisting of a soft mix of whites, purple and blue coloured perennials  including  Nepetas, Salvia Caradonna, Alliums, Agapanthus and Delphiniums, with the silvery Stachy lanata Silver Carpet as an edging punctuated by Buxus balls. It was great to see such a beautiful design incorporating so many plants from our nursery.

Country garden design, Burley Woodhead

The final garden of the morning was a terraced country garden on the edge of the moor. This private space included dry stone walling and newly planted cottage style perennials, including Erigeron which softened the dry-stone walls beautifully, Knautias, Astrantias, Lavenders, Astilbes and Erysimums.

Impactful use of colour, Ilkley

As the tour progressed, we visited a small town garden Ilkley with a contemporary style in the use of materials and plants. The garden was designed to include a lower terrace with a raised lawn surrounded with a hot colour pallet of plants. It had a fantastic impact on arrival, and a wonderful combination of plants including red Achilleas, Salvia Caradonna, Miscanthus Morning Light, Heuchera, Nepeta and Alliums.

Subtle tonal colours, in Ilkley

Our next visit was at the opposite end of the colour spectrum using a mix of tonal greens, whites and purples. The flagged courtyard included dry stone raised beds and grey painted trellis to complement the soft planting. The photos show the Brunnera Jack Frost and Astrantias, underplanting a purple Acer in a shaded area of the garden.

A formal delight, Ilkley

As the morning was drawing to an end, so was our time in Ilkley. The sixth garden we visited was also a personal favourite of ours due to the stunning design and use of space, paired with the plant varieties used throughout. Over lunch, we admired the views this large, formal, back garden that had its own tea house and grotto, as well as featuring a box parterre, a rose border and a woodland front garden with ornamental borders.

Other plant varieties included David Austin Roses, lavenders, ½ std variegated ilex, a large number of herbaceous plants, ferns, and various specimen shrubs.

Contrasting neighbouring gardens, Addingham

At the next two gardens, we saw a contrasting pair of new cottage style townhouses in Addingham. These smaller gardens had roughly the same square footage, but it was great to see how Helen Taylor Garden Design had taken two very different approaches.

The first had a symmetrical vegetable parterre with gravel paths and repeat planting that included varieties such as lavender, salvia and Buxus. At the end of the garden were large pleached hornbeams to provide screening and privacy from the houses behind.

The second garden included a small lawn space, unlike the previous, and featured tidy borders, a rosemary hedge and a fantastic trellis screen and rose arch. Some of the plant varieties used included nepeta, climbing roses and lupins, with the bottom section of the garden through the arch leading to a shady summer house retreat.

Established back garden, Addingham

The final garden visit of the day was also in Addingham. This time we visited a well-established, back cottage garden. Enclosed by an old stone barn, it included a summer house, wildlife pond and a vegetable and fruit garden, along with Delphiniums, Astrantia, heucheras and penstemon plants.

We had a truly lovely time being able to see first-hand the work done by Helen Taylor Garden Design, not only as finished gardens but seeing how the plants picked from our nursery have been used.

 

Bees Needs Week Competition

Bees Needs Week Competition

July 5th, 2019 by

Between 8-14 July is Bees’ Needs Week, and to celebrate our buzzing little friends we are giving away six bee-friendly plants. To enter simply like our Facebook page and comment on our giveaway post with a bee emoji 🐝

  1. The Promotor is Johnsons of Whixley Ltd
  2. Entrants must like the Johnsons of Whixley Facebook page and have commented on the post as requested to be in for a chance to win.
  3. The prize is open to all UK residents aged over 18 and above.
  4. There is only one prize available (six bee-friendly plants) with one winner of all six plants. The contents of which include: Lavender Hidcote, Monarda balmy rose, Achillea red velvet, Penstemon arabesque violet, Nepeta walkers low and Kniphofia lemon popsicle.
  5. Multiple entries from the same applicant will be discounted.
  6. The prize is as stated, no cash or alternative prize is available.
  7. The winner will be picked at random from all eligible entries.
  8. The competition will close at 12pm on Monday 15th July 2019
  9. The Winner will be announced on Thursday 18h July 2019 on the Johnsons of Whixley Facebook page.
  10. Winners will be asked for their details for collection.
  11. Winners will receive their prize on collection.
  12. The winners are allowed up to five calendar days to claim the prize from the date they are announced. If the winner fails to come forward than the prize shall be forfeited.
  13. Entries who did not win will not be contacted.
  14. Johnsons of Whixley will not take responsibility for any failure to the plant once the prize is received, replacements cannot be issued.
  15. If you are a winner, the Promoter may request you to participate in any publicity or promotion organised by the Promoter including promotional photographs.
  16. The Promoter reserves the right to withdraw this offer or amend these Terms and Conditions at any time without notice.
  17. In the event of any dispute regarding the Terms and Conditions, the conduct, results and any other matters relating to this prize draw, the decision of the Promoter shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.
  18. By entering applicants agree to the above terms and conditions
Nigel’s final goodbye from working on the nursery

Nigel’s final goodbye from working on the nursery

June 20th, 2019 by

Two families marked the end of an era of working together when Nigel Crowl retired from working on the nursery here at Johnsons of Whixley.

Nigel worked here for 47 years – following in the footsteps of his father, Eric, who also spent many years with the company as a general nursery worker. Sadly, the Crowl family will be unable to match our three generations of Richardsons as Nigel’s son now lives abroad.

Nigel spoke to our chairman, John Richardson – who himself has been with the company 55 years – about his time at Johnsons.

JR: Did you work anywhere prior to Johnsons?

NC: My first job after leaving school was as a joiner for the savages at Ouseburn until I had an accident with a circular saw that resulted in two badly cut fingers. While at savages, I also learned how to build coffins and dig graves! I only stayed there for about a year but I learned a lot.

 

JR: What job roles have you had working on the nursery?

NC: Since starting here, I have been involved with nursery work including budding 120 thousand bush roses, 12 thousand standard roses, growing trees from whips and numerous other nursery jobs. At 18, I started driving a 7.5 ton lorry before passing my HGV test, after which I delivered goods for six months of the year while the other six months would involve nursery maintenance. I enjoyed the change in jobs. Eventually, I gave up driving and concentrated on the maintenance.

 

JR: What have you enjoyed the most about your job?

NC: The thing I have enjoyed the most is the variation, no two jobs are the same. I also get on reasonably well with my immediate boss.

 

JR: Tell us a funny story from your time at Johnsons

NC: One that always springs to my mind is something that happened many years ago when the manager at the time was Danny Elliot. Chris Umpleby and I were sent up the field near to where the fire heap is now. There were rows of newly planted whips and we were told to stop them at head height. Neither myself nor Chris is very tall, so we stopped the rows of whips at 5ft. When Danny saw them, he blew his top as he wanted a foot taller – but how were we to know when he said head high, he meant the height of his own head! Needless to say, the whips went on to make excellent trees.

 JR: If you could have worked anywhere else, where would it have been?

NC: I would have continued my job as a joiner but more on the furniture side rather than putting up farm buildings or fitting outhouses.

 

JR: What changes have you seen in the company over the years?

NC: Johnsons has changed a lot over the years from a small retail nursery where you could be packing a single rose for delivery to a house in the centre of Leeds to a large wholesale business that now delivers hundreds and thousands of plants to large landscapers and nursery businesses. The maintenance side has also changed as there are more sites and we cover things like covering the tunnels and so on.

 

JR: Any exciting plans for retirement?

NC: The only plans for retirement are more holidays abroad and to enjoy going fishing… It will also be nice for my partner, Shirley, and I to be able to go out for days and just take life at a more leisurely pace.

 

John added: “Nigel has done most things on the nursery but is probably pleased that we stopped budding roses 25 years ago, his back has nearly finished aching! He really enjoyed driving jobs, and as the nursery got bigger, he took on so many of the woodworking and maintenance jobs. I’m sure he can look round the nursery anywhere and say ‘well, I had a hand in building that’.

“It is not so easy now, but we could always find where he was – just find the way to the base of the smoke cloud. Nigel will be missed; he has a great deal to be proud of and we will certainly miss him.

“Enjoy your retirement Nigel, you have deserved it, and we will be pleased to see you if you are ever at a loose end. With very best wishes from all of us at Johnsons.”

York Cares – and so does Johnsons

York Cares – and so does Johnsons

June 9th, 2019 by

At Johnsons of Whixley, we take our corporate social responsibility very seriously, which is why we are always happy to help local schemes such as York Cares.

We donated plants worth £300 and volunteered the services of four employees to transform an outdoor space at The Hut, a mental health charity based within Clarence Gardens in York, that provides meaningful activities for those with enduring mental health issues or learning disabilities.

Our team of Eleanor Richardson, Corrina Mills, Jim Christmas and Darren Fawbert helped make the outdoor space at The Hut more attractive and usable, refreshing and reinvigorating the grounds to create an area where people can take part in activities, socialise and celebrate together.

This included constructing a pergola, planting raised beds, making an outdoor store, painting railings and creating paths and seating areas.

Plants supplied included Choisya ternata ‘White Dazzler’, Lavandula ‘Hidcote’ and Syringa vulgaris ‘Prince Wolkonsky’ along with various herbs such as parsley, sweet marjoram and apple mint.

The Hut is a registered charity that offers a range of activities, from a men’s lunch club to creative writing, exercise and creative workshops.

The initiative is part of the York Cares Big Community Challenge, where local businesses volunteer the services of their employees to transform a community space in just three days.

York Cares aims to showcase the positive impact a green environment can have on health, wellbeing and social inclusion.

This is the second project aimed at raising mental health awareness that we have undertaken recently. We also supplied plants for the Mental Health Garden, created by garden designer Jo Manfredi-Hamer, which took the gold award at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.

Supporting National Children’s Gardening Week

Supporting National Children’s Gardening Week

May 27th, 2019 by

For this year’s National Children’s Gardening Week, we were eager to help inspire young pupils and their parents.

 

Wanting to educate a younger audience on the opportunities our industry has to offer and to encourage the next generation of gardeners, our team recently visited Tockwith Church of England Primary Academy with a little gift.

 

In support of National Children’s Gardening Week, we paid the school a visit with a donation of 180 lavender plants, with one for every pupil. After learning about how to plant and care for them, the pupils were encouraged to take a lavender home to plant with their parents over half term.

 

 

During our time there, the pupils also learnt about how plants and trees play a vital role in attracting bees, and why bees are so important to our food chain. It is estimated that around one-third of the food we eat every day relies on pollination by honeybees, such as avocados, broccoli, celery and squash.

 

The school itself is home to a colony of honeybees, that in their first year provided a 40lbs crop of honey that was sold to make £111 towards new bee suits for the children. All Year 4 pupils have lessons in beekeeping and observe the colony in action.

 

And to support the bees that inhabit our own nursery, we launched a Trees for Bees initiative earlier this year, planting trees, wildflowers and shrubs at the company’s apiary.

 

In the height of summer, up to 800,000 bees inhabit the company’s grounds to collect pollen; however, we wanted to encourage bees to continue to visit this later into the year when many species stop flowering.

 

We are delighted to be supporting National Children’s Gardening Week for the first time and we hope that by giving each pupil something to take home and grow, we can capture children’s enthusiasm at a time when plants will grow quickly in the warmer weather.

 

We are always keen to spread the message about the vital help that bees give us and to encourage a better understanding of how we can help to boost the bee population.

Award recognition for our Variety Big Build donation

Award recognition for our Variety Big Build donation

May 16th, 2019 by

Our joint Big Build donation with Bettys & Taylors Group to Springwater School, a special needs school in Harrogate, was recognised with a big build award at this year’s Variety Big Build Award at the annual Yorkshire Property Awards.

 

Over £5,500 worth of plants were donated to the school for a special new, interactive and sensory-stimulating playground for its pupils aged between 2-19 years of age. To activate the sense of smell, a number of plants with an arousing aroma were used, including varieties such as lavender, mint and rosemary.

 

The awards evening was hosted by Martin Bayfield, where over 1,000 guests attended the event to celebrate the many achievements of businesses in the Yorkshire commercial property sector.

 

A three-course dinner was served at the black-tie evening, alongside the awards presentation with various fundraising activities throughout.

 

A grand total of £250,000 was raised at this year’s annual awards for Variety, the children’s charity, that helps sick, disabled and underprivileged children across the UK.

 

Our marketing co-ordinator, Eleanor Richardson, attended the evening to collect the award recognition on behalf of our company. It is great to have our contribution to Springwater School recognised, but most of all, we’re delighted to see the great impact our donation has had on the school already. We look forward to getting involved with the next Big Build project.

 

This is one of many donations Johnsons of Whixley has made over the past few years, including a donation of £5,000 to BBC Children in Need and the DIY SOS team where they helped redevelop a community centre in Swansea with trees, hedging, shrubs and herbaceous.

Johnsons team up with Bettys & Taylors Group to beautify special needs school grounds

Johnsons team up with Bettys & Taylors Group to beautify special needs school grounds

May 7th, 2019 by

We have teamed up with Bettys & Taylors Group to provide over £5,500 worth of plants to Springwater, a special needs school in Harrogate.

The Harrogate based day school provides education to children between the ages of 2-19 years that have a range of complex life-limiting and learning limited conditions. The school also provides an Outreach service within North Yorkshire mainstream schools for pupils with learning difficulties.

Samantha Gibson from Bettys & Taylors Group, said: “As a business we have a long history of working with Springwater School over the last two decades. With this background we were delighted to be able to be part of this project through our Trees for Life initiative in revitalising their sensory garden. “

1,430 plants have been provided and donated for it’s new interactive and sensory stimulating playground that will allow children with disabilities to safely play alongside their friends. This is the second phase of the big build project which will really compliment the new state of the art sensory room and soon to be complete sunken trampoline for rebound therapy; phase three of the project. Plants have carefully been chosen with sensory varieties such as Lavender, Mint and Rosemary included in the planting plan.

Managing Director Graham Richardson from Johnsons of Whixley, said: “I can think of few projects that are as deserving as ‘Springwater’ and our business is pleased to help in a small way. Our team up with Betty’s has worked particularly well, both being local employers with 100 or approaching 100 years of operating in the locality!”

The ‘big build project’ was launched by Children’s charity Variety on the back of their visit to the school in 2017 when Yorkshire Regional Development Director of Variety, Charlotte Farrington recognised how restrictive the school was for the children. Variety managed to enlist numerous local businesses that attend the Yorkshire Property Awards each year to get on board with donations and services to help give the school a much-needed makeover.

Johnsons and Bettys joint donation will be recognised with a Variety Big Build award at the Yorkshire Property Awards on Thursday 9th May at Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate.

Bee keeping to help prevent a declining population

Bee keeping to help prevent a declining population

April 23rd, 2019 by

Bee keeping and plant growing go hand in hand, and it should come as no surprise we have an ever-expanding apiary onsite.

 

Within the first few weeks of spring, we have grown our apiary with the addition of another 200,000 honey bees, with that set to increase once again to over 800,000 by summer.

 

During a single pollen collection trip, a honey bee will visit anywhere between 50-100 flowers, making our nursery’s main 50-acre site the perfect home for bees. In the surrounding area, we have another 75 acres that will also be utilised by the bees as they have been known to travel over 2,000 miles to collect pollen.

 

As we lead into the busiest time of the year on our nursery, we will have more and more plants for the bees to visit and feed from.

 

Knowing about the declining bee population figures due to industrial agriculture and climate change, we contacted the Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association back in spring 2017 to help with increasing the growth in our area.

 

We installed an onsite apiary where bee keeping could be managed directly from our site, starting with just a small number of beehives with the aim to increase this year on year. Since the launch of our apiary, we are delighted to have seen a substantial increase over the last two years, with thanks to beekeeper Keith Simmonds, vice president of Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association.

 

Keith commented: “The mild winter has meant more colonies of bees have successfully survived through to the spring season. A mild spring will ensure that a good number of strong hives help the UK honey bee population to recover from the losses of recent times. Everyone can do their bit to help by ensuring that their garden, or planting scheme, includes something for the bees to live off.”

 

We would like to remind everyone of the importance of bees; not only do they pollinate a third of our food, they pollinate 80% of flowering plants. Some crops rely on pollinators, for example blueberries are 90% dependent on bees, and most of all, honey must be produced by bees – all of which alone contributes millions to our economy.

 

With the recent study that announced the decline to a third of the British wild bee and hoverfly population, we are very proud to be doing our bit for the environment and bee population. Our nursery is the perfect location for bee keeping, and we would like to encourage businesses with a similar landscape to create a home for bees too.

Record-breaking trading figures: successful start to 2019

Record-breaking trading figures: successful start to 2019

April 16th, 2019 by

Following the unpredictability of 2018’s weather, and the knock-on effect this has had on businesses in our industry, we have had an outstanding start to 2019 with our most successful half year of trading since the company was established almost 100 years ago.

Over our three business sectors, Wholesale Commercial, Wholesale Xpress and Garden Centre Sales, our orders grew by 20% with sales totalling £8m between October and March, an impressive increase of £1.37m on the same period last year.

More than 9,100 orders were placed and in excess of 3,000 deliveries carried out to locations across the UK.

February, in particular, had seen a record number of orders, with both sales and top-up orders proving extremely robust.

National infrastructure projects such as the redevelopment of the A50 trunk road in Staffordshire [link to blog] had given a boost to our clients in the landscaping sector, which in turn has benefited us here at Johnsons of Whixley.

An early spell of good weather brought a brisk garden centre trade that saw order books swell by around a fifth competed to last year – despite the huge question mark of Brexit still hanging over the industry.

We don’t know what’s on the horizon and as we are reliant on the economic and supply chain, Brexit has the potential to be catastrophic. It makes long-term planning very difficult for trading but one thing we can do is to invest in innovative new systems that will help us to retain the current buoyancy.

One such system is a new plant retail line that will significantly improve efficiency for our team on the nursery. We have invested £70,000 in a new mechanical line capable of processing up to 7,000 plants a day while halving the number of workers required to perform the task manually – vital if Brexit has an effect on staff numbers. This equates to a saving of around 228 personnel hours a week, or £1,000 per day, at peak times.

We are also looking to invest a further £100,000 in a substantial amount of covered growing and storage space at our Roecliffe site, to prepare for a Brexit eventuality that would affect imports of plants from Europe that we then grow and supply for our customers.

Recycling plant pots for egg-citing Easter activity

Recycling plant pots for egg-citing Easter activity

April 16th, 2019 by

It’s that time of year where school children get egg-cited for some Easter-inspired activity, so this year we partnered up with local Tockwith Primary School by recycling plant pots for a fundraising Easter decorating competition.

We donated and delivered over 200 two-lite plant pots to the local primary school, where children decorated them with a variety of designs, from classic Easter themes of chicks and eggs, to their favourite characters like Harry Potter.

The pots were then judged by the teachers, and prizes were awarded before the pots to the children for their excellent designs. The finished pots were then sold at the Easter fair to raise money for the Parent, Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA).

The ‘cracking’ idea of recycling plant pots to raise funds came from a group of girls in Year 5, Chloe, Georgia, Mia and Orlaith.

Justin Reeves, Headteacher at Tockwith School, said: “Thank you so much Johnsons of Whixley for donating 200 plant pots for our Easter plant pot decoration competition. Not only did this help raise more money for the school, it helped the creative juices flow in Tockwith with some children creating some awesome designs. Thanks again for supporting a local school.”

We love being at to help local schools and charities with their fundraising where we can, especially when there is a chance to encourage the next generation of gardeners into the great outdoors to learn new skills. It’s especially lovely to be able to encourage children to recycle while they’re having fun.

The plastic crisis has been one of the most high-profile items in the news throughout the past year, with figures showing that more than 90% – or 6,300 million tonnes – of plastic waste has never been recycled.
As a company, we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously, so we jumped at the chance to put 200 of our old and used plant pots to good use.

Why recycling in the horticulture industry is essential

Why recycling in the horticulture industry is essential

March 18th, 2019 by

When Global Recycling Day comes around every March, we are reminded about the importance of saving the planet – and why it is essential that businesses in our industry join the battle against waste by putting in place a recycling scheme.

The horticulture sector faces huge challenges when it comes to recycling, particularly in relation to the amount of plastic it uses.

Our chairman, John Richardson, recently commented: “Despite being a ‘green’ industry, the demands of the trade, including the correct storage of plants, means that an incredible amount of plastic is used and then discarded. Making a positive contribution to the environment is at the heart of everything we do as a company and this is reflected in our recycling strategy.”

The plastic crisis has been one of most high-profile items in the news throughout the past year, with figures showing that more than 90% – or 6,300 million tonnes – of plastic waste has never been recycled[1].

As retailers of plastic packaging, we are required by law to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling, with an obligation to present a certain number of Packaging Return Notes (PRNs) to the officials at the end of the year.

In 2018, our company reported a total recovery obligation of 348 tonnes, broken down into four tonnes of paper, 116 tonnes of plastic and 92 tonnes of wood, and costing them in excess of £18,000 in recycling costs.

As part of our commitment to the environment, we are currently undertaking a year-long trial of recyclable plant pots. Made from 98% recycled plastic, the pots can be detected by domestic waste separation systems, unlike standard pots that are often used in the industry, which contain a carbon pigment that compromises recognition, resulting in a huge amount of pots ending up in landfill each year.

Providing the pots have no impact on plant growth and quality, the project will be rolled out to all of our garden centre customers from 2020.

In the meantime, our team makes every effort to recycle their own plastic pots, returning used or damaged items or pots to our supplier Aeroplas Ltd, who recycle them through their own production process.

We have also invested thousands of pounds into additional recycling processes, including funding the separate collection of cardboard, paper, plastic, pesticides, computers and batteries. Waste food from the canteen is collected weekly by Harrogate Borough Council.

We take our commitment to protecting the plant very seriously through implementing environmentally-friendly processes in the horticultural industry, and we are very proud of our ISO Standard 14001, setting the standard for Environmental Management Systems.

A year on Laura, Terry and Alice

A year on Laura, Terry and Alice

March 28th, 2019 by

We caught up with Alice, Laura and Terry to see how they’ve settled into their new roles here at Johnsons of Whixley, one year on from when they started.

Let’s start by introducing you all:
Alice Knowles (AK): I’m Alice, I joined the Cash & Carry team as plant centre reception and sales administrator after working previously at RHS Harlow Carr plant centre as a team leader.

Laura Holmes (LH): Hi, I’m Laura. I joined last year as sales administrator in the sales team. Before starting here, I worked in a HR admin role at the City of York Council.

Terry Cooper (TC) I’ve been at Johnsons of Whixley for 4years, but a year ago I moved to work alongside our IT manager as a system support assistant.

How has your first year in your new role been?
TC: It’s been great, really enjoyed it. Honestly can’t believe it’s been almost a year, it has gone by so quick! Is that a sign I’m getting old?

AK: My first year at Johnsons has flown by and it really feels like I’ve been here much longer. It’s been very interesting, and great to learn about the business as a whole, especially how the Cash & Carry works alongside the nursery. I’ve also enjoyed working with landscapers and designers to achieve their designs, that has been very rewarding and great to see the results.

LH: My first year at Johnsons has flown by too – it has been very educational. I’ve learnt so many new things, such as, memorising all the different types of trees and plants you can get. I wasn’t from a horticulture background, so all this was very new to me.

What have you enjoyed the most about the last year at Johnsons of Whixley?

TC: Learning fresh things each day and getting the chance to help people.

LH: The thing I’ve enjoyed the most about my last 12 months would be obviously learning so many new things, but the people here are all so friendly and welcoming, it makes you want to come to work every day! Not forgetting the food days and Christmas party too!

AK: I’ve enjoyed many different things since joining last year. Meeting new people who have helped me gain valuable knowledge has been great. Being able to work alongside the nursery has taught me more about plants and how they are produced in large numbers. The main thing I’ve enjoyed was contributing towards a great year for the Cash & Carry and implementing ideas which will hopefully see the continued success of the business.

Have you experienced any challenges along the way?

AK: Having never worked with bare root and root ball plants, the season from November has been challenging in learning new products during a busy period. Also, even though I have worked with larger suppliers before, having such a wide range available has been challenging to try and get the best products from the correct supplier.

TC: We had a lot of fun when the new Cash & Carry Till software went full werewolf and tried to devour a sizable chunk of the database! We eventually managed to pry the data from its ravenous maw, sustaining a few scars in the process.

Anything interesting you have learnt that you didn’t know before?

LH: Everything to do with plants! From all of the names being in Latin, to the different sizes and varieties you can get.

AK: Just how many plants Johnsons grow. It has been amazing to see one variety of plant in a batch of several thousand growing on the nursery. Also, the trends that appear in designs which are influenced by a client’s social media interaction.

TC: Johnsons spelt backwards is snosnhoj, which sounds like a piece of Ikea furniture.

How has the team at Johnsons of Whixley supported you?

TC: Everyone has provided me with encouragement – it’s an environment supportive of progress and excellent mentoring.

LH: Johnsons of Whixley has supported me in all sorts of ways. If I’m ever stuck on something someone is always willing to help and point me in the right direction. Whether it’s in the office or the yard, they always seem to know an answer and want to help.

What does the future hold for you at Johnsons?

AK: I am really enjoying my time in the cash and carry and look forward to helping its continued growth over a long period.

LH: I hope to expand my knowledge further and customer base.

TC: We have quite a few projects that will improve the efficiency, traceability, resilience, accuracy, usability and productivity of our customer-facing internal and back-end systems. Many of these we are hoping to see implemented in the next 12 months.

Meet our new sales executive, Hannah Smith

Meet our new sales executive, Hannah Smith

February 5th, 2019 by

We recently welcomed a new face to our Wholesale Commercial team. Hannah Smith joined our sales team in January as a sales executive/administrator. Here’s what she had to say about her first two weeks at Johnsons of Whixley.

1. Welcome to the team! How have you found your first two weeks as our new sales executive?

My first two weeks have been absolutely jam packed! In my first week I got to spend a day with each department, both out on the nursery and in the office. I was able to see how everyone, from sales to despatch, played a vital part in ensuring a customer order was put together efficiently from start to finish.

2.What have you enjoyed the most so far?

I really enjoyed being out on the nursery for a day (even if it was absolutely freezing!), lifting plants and packing them into boxes ready for delivery. It made me realise how much work goes into putting an order together which will be beneficial in my role. Oh, and I got to ride round on the back of a tractor 😊

3.What will your new role include?

My role as a sales executive will include account management, pricing quotes for customers, dealing with any questions or queries customers might have about any existing or new orders and ensuring their order are processed quickly and correctly.

4.Where did you work prior to joining Johnsons of Whixley?

Prior to Johnsons I worked at a farm shop in Harrogate for two and a half years.

5.What are you most looking forward to while working here?

I’m looking forward to a completely new challenge! I’ve only ever worked in face-to-face retail so working in sales at Johnsons is a big change for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to use some of the skills I already have to help me along the way, plus everyone has been so kind and helpful so I’m sure I’ll find help if I ever get stuck!

6.What do you think you biggest challenge will be?

I think the biggest challenge for me will be learning all the different varieties of plants and trees we grow and sell. I can’t believe how many there are! Wish me luck!

Q&A with our beekeeper for National Honey Month

Q&A with our beekeeper for National Honey Month

September 15th, 2018 by

Q&A with our beekeeper for National Honey Month

To celebrate National Honey Month this September, we asked Keith Simmonds from Harrogate Beekeepers Association, who looks after our onsite apiary, some questions.

1) How many years have you been a beekeeper and what do you like most about it?
I started in 2006 on a beekeeping course run by Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association, so 13 seasons. Bees often surprise you by not behaving as you expect, so you are always learning.

2) How much training did it take to become a beekeeper?
The course was some 20 weeks long, consisting of 12 weeks’ theory and 8 weeks’ practical. It was a very comprehensive course, but shorter courses are available. You never stop learning, and belonging to a beekeeping association gives you plenty of contact with more experienced beekeepers to help you learn.

3) What is the main responsibility for a beekeeper?
The main job is to ensure that the bees are happy with sufficient space when they need it during the summer months, and most importantly, that they are healthy. Bees are under pressure from all sorts of environmental and habitat problems, keeping them healthy gives them the best chance of survival.

4) Our apiary isn’t the only one you look after, how many bees do you estimate you look after in one year?
I have three apiary sites with 22 colonies or hives. On average, at full summer strength, each will have 50,000 bees, so more than a million bees.

5) How much honey do the bees you look after produce a year?
This, like any other food product, depends on lots of outside influences, such as weather, crops and other forage available to the bees. I would think somewhere between 500 and 700 lbs of honey per annum. A lot of this is left with the bees as winter feed.

6) Most people do not react well to the sight of swarming bees, were you afraid of the bees when you first started out as a beekeeper?
No not really, I was fascinated by the bees. Most people on beekeeping courses are keen to get into their hive for the first time. A swarm of bees is more intent on finding a new home than spending time attacking you. Swarming bees are often very calm.

7) How many times do you think you’ve been strung over the years?
This must now be in the hundreds, I have reached the stage where I no longer react to stings, however let me make one thing clear, each sting still hurts.

8) Is there a way of calming the bees?
One of the best ways to keep bees calm is to be calm yourself, no sudden movement, noise or knocks. Beekeepers use a smoker to help manage the bees, these burn wood, paper or cardboard, well, anything organic in the smoker. The smoke will cause the bees to fill themselves with honey as they believe a fire could be nearby and they may need to leave. Well-fed bees are usually calmer.

9) We all use the phrase “as busy as the bee”, but do bees sleep or rest at all?
Bees don’t sleep or hibernate, in the summer they are busy collecting nectar and pollen to feed themselves and the new brood in the hive. The Queen will lay 2,000 eggs a day during summer, and sometimes more. So you see, the hive is busy all the time in the late spring and summer. In winter the bees are mostly confined to the hive due to bad weather where they form into a compact ball of bees to keep warm.

Luke Richardson makes Pro Landscaper’s 30 under 30

Luke Richardson makes Pro Landscaper’s 30 under 30

December 5th, 2017 by

Luke Richardson makes Pro Landscaper’s 30 under 30

We are proud to announce that our very own Luke Richardson has been named on Pro Landscaper Magazine’s prestigious 30 under 30 list.

Pro Landscaper launched the initiative again this July to find another 30 young inspiring people in the industry, following the success of the inaugural ‘30 Under 30: The Next Generation’ last year.

The award ceremony has been designed to help young people within the horticulture and landscape sectors gain recognition and celebrate their achievements.

This year, a high volume of applications were received from all sectors of the industry, including garden design, landscaping, landscape architecture, arboriculture and suppliers.

Luke attended the 30 under 30 presentation evening on November 15th at Sandown Park Racecourse where he received his certificate. Luke’s achievement was also covered in the magazine.
Congratulations Luke!

Q&A with our safety experts for World Health and Safety Day

Q&A with our safety experts for World Health and Safety Day

April 24th, 2017 by

To mark World Health and Safety Day (Friday 28th April) we have asked Johnsons’ resident Health and Safety experts, Dave and Terry from Sound Safety, some questions around the subject and their work with us.

How long have you worked with Johnsons of Whixley?
We started working with Johnsons in June 2006, so just over 10 years!

What systems have you helped put in place during your time with Johnsons?
Initially we focused on getting senior managers, managers, supervisors and shop floor personnel involved and talking about health and safety, and started to hold regular executive and general committee meetings discussing, planning and actioning health and safety issues on site. We’ve monitored how effective our systems are through regular audits and inspections. This model has been instrumental in achieving all the improvements that have been made over the past ten years at Johnsons.

What’s been the most frequently reported incident you have come across working with different businesses?
That’s a difficult question, as we work with many different companies who operate in different environments. But there is always a human element in reported accidents and incidents. Often someone has failed to do something they should have done, or someone has done something they shouldn’t have done. Incidents involving vehicles contribute to most of the incidents reported here at Johnsons.

How often do you work with Johnsons?
We work with Johnsons one day per week, but we are always on call in the event of an emergency, or if anyone requires support or advice.

What does a day working at Johnsons entail?
In the morning, we review any accidents or incidents from the previous weeks, prepare for committee meetings that we may be attending, and work on any documents around systems and risk assessments – in other words any paperwork that needs doing. Usually in the afternoon we investigate any accidents or incidents, carry out a scheduled workplace inspection at one or two of the sites, and spend time with managers who may have raised a concern.

What do you like most about working with Johnsons?
When trying to develop a robust health and safety culture in any organisation there has to be a genuine commitment and practical involvement at senior management level. Without this commitment, it’s difficult to encourage middle management and supervisors to get on board – we believe Johnsons have those elements in place. Having an open an honest relationship with management is one of the keys to job satisfaction.

How did you both get into the health and safety industry?
For me (Terry), it just seemed a natural progression in my career, coming from an engineering background in a highly regulated chemical industry. I (David) applied for the job as Safety Officer as it meant a promotion and more money than I was getting working as a chemist – hat was 27 years ago when I had a full head of hair!

Have you been involved in any accidents or incidents yourselves in your career?
About 20 years ago I (Terry) was working on a scaffold with a colleague, when one of the scaffold boards snapped in half and I fell about four metres injuring my back. I (David) haven’t suffered any injuries at work but I once nearly electrocuted myself at home trying to fix the washer while it was still plugged in! Fortunately for me the RCD tripped so I was not injured too badly. It’s worth noting that many more injuries are caused by accidents in the home than they are by accidents in the workplace.

Finally, what health and safety advice would you give to people working in the horticulture industry?
Listen and take on board any health and safety advice you’ve been given, adhere to any training or instruction that you have received, challenge anything that may potentially put you or your colleagues at risk, and report anything that has the potential to hurt someone.

Johnsons named runner up in Family Business Awards 2017

Johnsons named runner up in Family Business Awards 2017

June 14th, 2017 by

Johnsons named runner up in Family Business Awards 2017

Johnsons of Whixley’s status as one of the county’s leading family businesses has been further enhanced after being named Runner-Up for the Yorkshire region at the prestigious Family Business of the Year Awards earlier this month.

Following a thorough application process, the Whixley-based plant nursery business, first established in 1921, was named on the final shortlist of 14 by organising body Family Business United, the magazine and resource centre that champions and celebrates the family business sector.

The awards were held on Thursday 8 June at the luxurious May Fair Hotel in London, where Grimsby-based wholesale food exporter Ramsden International was awarded the top prize.
Graham Richardson, managing director at Johnsons of Whixley, said: “We are incredibly proud to have made it so far in the competition, and were delighted to make the final shortlist, so to be named as overall runner-up is a huge achievement.

“Across three generations, family values are at the heart of everything we deliver and it is pleasing that our long-standing commitment to these values has been rewarded in this way.
“I’d like to congratulate Ramsden International on their worthy victory, and all of the other finalists for making the shortlist. We enjoyed a great night in wonderful company and left feeling immensely proud of all that we have achieved.”

John Richardson, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in September, has been the chairman of the Johnsons Group since 1964 and still takes an active daily role in governance, strategy, quality and environmental systems, and health and safety.

Two of John’s sons, Andrew and Iain, are joint managing directors, alongside sibling and group managing director, Graham.

John’s grandchildren also take an active role. Luke is a senior key account manager, Robert is manager of the wholesale cash and carry unit, and Ellie is an office and administration supervisor, with a customer-facing role within the Xpress Cash and Carry division.

A further two grandsons and a granddaughter also have sales and admin responsibilities.

Johnsons of Whixley have invested more than £1,000 in drone technology

Johnsons of Whixley have invested more than £1,000 in drone technology

June 14th, 2017 by

Johnsons of Whixley has invested more than £1,000 in drone technology as the company continues to drive innovation in the horticultural industry.

The new airborne cameras will enable Johnsons staff members to remotely monitor stock levels across more than 200 acres of fragmented sites, as well as crop quality and irrigation levels.

A dedicated team of staff members will be trained to operate the technology, which has a 3.5-mile range and can capture Ultra HD (4K) quality video.

Established over 90 years ago, Johnsons of Whixley has a long history of technological innovation, and finding solutions to common industry problems. Many of the solutions implemented are bespoke to the business.

Johnsons of Whixley group manging director, Graham Richardson, said: “There are a variety of envisaged uses for the new technology and we are excited about the possibilities around stock monitoring and management.

“As a business we are always eager to find ways to boost our efficiency, streamline processes and embrace technology that can help us ultimately deliver a higher quality of product to our customers.

“And by training staff members to use the technology we are aiding their continued professional development.”

Johnsons of Whixley meet the staff - Laszlo Csanyi

Johnsons of Whixley meet the staff – Laszlo Csanyi

June 20th, 2017 by

Meet our Potting Supervisor Laszlo – he’s been working at Johnsons of Whixley for four years, after moving to the UK from his hometown in Hungary.

In his profile, Laszlo talks about what he enjoys about working at our nursery, what brought him to the UK and what he likes about living here.

This is the first of a number of profiles from our staff who have moved to the UK after living in other European countries.

Name: Laszlo Csanyi
Age: 20
Hometown : Baja, Hungary

How long have been in the UK?
Four Years

What were your reasons for choosing to settle in the UK?
My older brother and father came over to the UK in February 2014 to work. After they had being living in the UK for a while my mum, myself and my younger brother and sister moved over here. My parents sold everything back home to live and work here.

Who did you come to the UK with?
My family

How did you come to work for Johnsons?
I couldn’t carry on the studies I had done in Hungary so I got better with my English over the first 6 months here and an agency firm called Jark phoned me to ask if I wanted to work at Johnsons.

What is your current role within the company?
Potting supervisor

What does a typical day for you at Johnsons consist of?
I start off with a team brainstorm and plan the day, then I get my team together and talk through what needs to be done. We generally pot 5L & 10L plants.

Has this been your only role at Johnsons? (promoted etc.)
I have always worked on potting and learnt from my previous supervisor Brian who helped me with the knowledge I have now. I was then offered a full time contract and a promotion to be the Potting Supervisor in April 2016.

What’s your favourite thing about working for the company?
I enjoy what I do and enjoy a challenge. I get on well with everyone and have always had great support from the management.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the UK?
I enjoy the loud music in pubs and clubs and there are lots of choices here compared to in Hungary, such as more music.

What are your ambitions, in work and in life?
I would say it was a big step becoming a supervisor I am really happy with that as a first step.

Johnsons of Whixley meet the staff - Gergo Kontos

Johnsons of Whixley meet the staff – Gergo Kontos

June 29th, 2017 by

Johnsons of Whixley meet the staff – Gergo Kontos

Name: Gergo Kontos

Age: 27

Hometown:
Szolnok, Hungary. I now live in Leeds, but visit home once or twice a year to see my family.

How long have been in the UK?
I moved here when I was 24, so it’s been just over three years.

What were your reasons for choosing to settle in the UK? I just felt like England had more to give.

Who did you come to the UK with? I travelled over with a friend of mine.

How did you come to work for Johnsons?
The friend I travelled over with found me a job at Johnsons, at first through an agency, and I am now employed full-time by the company.

What is your current role within the company?
I am a senior nursery worker.

What does a typical day for you at Johnsons consist of?
I mostly work in the potting shed, but I sometimes drive the tractor, or the dumper, when helping to lift amenity orders.

Has this been your only role at Johnsons?
My job and the roles I carry out have varied over the last three years I have been here, and I am happy to work wherever I am needed.

What’s your favourite thing about working for the company?
The people that work here are friendly, and this has really helped make my time enjoyable.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the UK?
The football! I support Liverpool and enjoy watching the matches on TV. I also like that my girlfriend lives in the UK, and I love the fact that Slash from Guns N’ Roses is English. I love the band and I went to see them live in London two weeks ago.

What are your ambitions, in work and in life?
I would love to travel some more, and maybe live In Australia or New Zealand with my girlfriend, but I would come back to Johnsons if I ever returned to the UK. I may end up in Australia or New Zealand once we’ve saved up enough money.

Horticap’s students gain industry insight from nursery visit

Horticap’s students gain industry insight from nursery visit

July 17th, 2017 by

Horticap’s students gain industry insight from nursery visit

Students and staff from the charity, Horticap, enjoyed a tour and hands-on work experience at our nurseries on Wednesday 12 July.

Horticap’s qualified staff and team of volunteers provide adults with learning difficulties with training in horticulture, allied crafts and rural skills.

The group enjoyed a visit to the board room and a guided tour of the Johnsons nursery site and gained a first-hand insight into operations in the Xpress Cash and Carry division of the business.

The tour was hosted by Johnsons of Whixley chairman John Richardson, who celebrates his 80th birthday in September, and who still plays an active role in the running of the business.

John said: “We were delighted to welcome the students from Horticap, alongside their excellent supervisors, Phil and Erica, who were also keen to pick up production ideas which might be useful at Horticap.

“I always enjoy talking to visitors, particularly when they are young and motivated by growing plants, and the delight and surprise on the faces of these youngsters as they saw the volumes and variety of large scale production, was wonderful to see.

“As youngsters they were keen to see inside one of our big trucks, which was about to leave for Scotland, and insisted on having their photos taken in the driving seat. It was a totally new experience for all of them.

“Horticap is a truly admirable organisation, and they need, and truly deserve, the support of all our horticultural friends.”

Horticap assistant manager, Phil Airey, said: “We were made to feel so welcome by Johnsons of Whixley. Our students had a great time and learnt a lot about the industry.
“One of our student said afterwards said it was one of the best days he’s had, so we are grateful to Johnsons for hosting us, and for being so supportive of our efforts in general.”

Johnsons of Whixley has provided empty pots to Horticap for many years, whilst also supplying plants and other horticultural products to their charitable projects.

Based in Harrogate, Horticap’s students complete work under supervision throughout their local community.

The charity also raises funds by selling gardening accessories and gifts, as well as perennials, bedding plants and shrubs cultivated by Horticap’s own students and staff.

Honey is in sight as bees get to work at our nursery

Honey is in sight as bees get to work at our nursery

July 21st, 2017 by

Honey is in sight as bees get to work at our nursery

Life is sweet at our nursery as colonies of bees have been busy creating their first batch of honey.

We installed an apiary at our 200-acre nursery three months ago as part of a project in partnership with Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association, which recognises the crucial role bees play on our eco-system.

We installed the apiary to help the UK’s bee population and are now very close to seeing our first batch of honey.

Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association has been visiting the nursery fortnightly to check up on the bees. We’re looking forward to trying the first batch once the honey is ready.
Honey can be used for a variety of purposes; from medicinal use such as treating wounds and allergies, to beauty purposes such as hair conditioners and lip balms. And of course, it can simply be used to sweeten up food such as toast and pancakes.

The British bee population has declined at an alarming rate in recent years, by a third since 2007.

Contributions to the decline include recent wet summers, which have prevented bees from searching out pollen, and environmental changes, such as the increased use of pesticides in farming, alongside the depletion of natural habitats.

Bees are a vital part in the world’s food production as studies have revealed that around a third of the world’s food is pollination dependent.

Our group managing director, Graham Richardson, said: “We’re excited to see that the first batch of honey is almost ready and we’re looking forward to trying it!

“Our nursery is an ideal location for bees as it utilizes the many varied plant stocks grown at Johnsons of Whixley and provides foraging within the surrounding countryside.”

Keith Simmonds, Vice President of Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association, said: “The bee colonies at Johnsons of Whixley have made good progress following a slow start to the year and I am hoping for a good first harvest from them.

“Honey bees have many problems to face in their short lives, with the loss of wild flowers and the increase in the various external factors effecting their survival, a site such as Johnsons which offers so many nectar and pollen producing plants will help the long term survival of the honey bee.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to offer sites for bee colonies and I would like to say a big thank you to Johnsons of Whixley for providing an apiary site.”

On the road with Johnsons of Whixley driver Tim Smith

On the road with Johnsons of Whixley driver Tim Smith

August 7th, 2017 by

On the road with Johnsons of Whixley driver Tim Smith

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.

Johnsons of Whixley meet the boss - John Richardson

Johnsons of Whixley meet the boss – John Richardson

October 5th, 2017 by

Johnsons of Whixley meet the boss – John Richardson

Meet our chairman John Richardson, who has been at the head of our business for more than 50 years and says he has no plans to retire.

John first took ownership of Johnsons of Whixley in 1964. Under his leadership, the business has grown to become one of the largest commercial nursery businesses in Europe, and a trusted supplier of plants and trees to commercial projects throughout the UK.

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!

Happy 80th birthday to our Chairman John Richardson!

Happy 80th birthday to our Chairman John Richardson!

October 5th, 2017 by

Happy 80th birthday to our Chairman John Richardson! John has been at the head of our business for more than 50 years and says he has no plans to retire.

John first took ownership of Johnsons of Whixley in 1964. Under his leadership, the business has grown to become one of the largest commercial nursery businesses in Europe, and a trusted supplier of plants and trees to commercial projects throughout the UK.

These days John’s role mainly revolves around the management of the company’s administrative tasks, including health and safety, quality and environmental requirements.
But he has no plans to put his feet up, following a lifetime of working in agriculture.

“Retiring is something you do when you go to bed!” he said.

“I love my association with my work, the staff, our customers – and the plants! – too much to consider stopping.”

John began life in the industry at an early age, working on a farm owned by his mother’s family, before going on to study for a diploma at Essex College.

“During my time with the business, climate change and the impact of foreign holidays has revolutionized the range of plants now used in private gardens,” he reflected.

“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.

“And as the industry has evolved it’s been extremely satisfying to see the business grow with the help of different generations of the family,” he added.

“My advice to anybody starting their own business, either within horticulture or outside of it, would be to attack the project with fire and enthusiasm and gain as much knowledge as possible.

“You will have one or two set-backs but skill, enthusiasm, personality and quick thinking will carry you through. No job will be as rewarding as working for yourself.”

Johnsons of Whixley Meet the boss - Tony Coles

Johnsons of Whixley Meet the boss – Tony Coles

October 6th, 2017 by

Johnsons of Whixley Meet the boss – Tony Coles

Johnsons of Whixley’s Senior Amenity Sales Manager, Tony Coles, recently took part in the York Press Meet the Boss feature. Check out his interview below.

What job would you like to have other than your own and why?
It sounds daft but I would have liked to have been an Astronaut. I have always had an interested in space and the sense of seeing the earth from space is appealing. But, in reality, that was never going to happen, so I was very proud to instead serve in HM Forces before joining Johnsons of Whixley. I served in the Royal Navy for 14 years, and enjoyed every moment of that. Being part of a team that was defending your country was a great feeling, plus I got to travel and visit many places around the world.

Greatest achievement?
This is not an easy question to answer, but I have been lucky enough to have never been out of work. Since leaving school I have only ever had three jobs, and I have spent 22 and a half years at Johnsons of Whixley, doing a variety of roles during that time. I’m very proud of what I have achieved during my professional career.

What makes you most angry?
I think that would have to be those people you sometimes find who walk down the street looking at their mobile phones and not looking where they are going. I have to say that is something that really annoys me, and I’m sure other share my frustrations, especially when you’re in a rush!

Biggest mistake?
I’d say one of my biggest regrets was probably not working hard enough at school. I should have done better than I did, and then who knows where I might have ended up. But then I also think that the biggest mistake someone can make is not learning from their mistakes!

What do you need to make life complete?
Health is a very important factor for happiness, alongside feeling the comfort of knowing that I would not have to rely on anybody in my old age. You certainly appreciate the importance of overall health and wellbeing as you get older.

Why do you make a difference?
Not an easy one this, because I think we all make a difference to the world in our own small ways. I think the most important thing is to just do your best at what you do, whether it being in your workplace, at home or anywhere else. I believe that if you do that then you can certainly make a difference.

Johnsons teams up with Children in Need to help transform community centre

Johnsons teams up with Children in Need to help transform community centre

October 27th, 2017 by

Johnsons teams up with Children in Need to help transform community centre

Johnsons of Whixley teamed up with BBC Children in Need and the DIY SOS team to help a local charity in Swansea rebuild their community centre.


We donated a range of large trees, hedging and shrubs as part of the redevelopment of the centre and its grounds.


The centre is operated by The Roots Foundation, which has spent the last two years in a dilapidated wooden hut, and the lack of space and facilities was making it difficult for the team to provide its services to those who need it.


The Roots Foundation provides help and support to young people who are leaving the care system and preparing for the challenges of the next chapter in their lives.


The DIY SOS team was challenged to construct a new support centre from scratch, which is spacious and suitable for the users’ specific needs, in just 11 days.


The new development includes a large youth club space, therapy room, kitchen for cooking classes and a Life Skills Garden. The build also included four self-contained apartments.


‘DIY SOS: The Big Build’ is the BBC’s flagship home renovation programme. It has been running for 18 years, and attracts up to five million viewers per episode in its prime-time slot on BBC One.


The results of renovation will be revealed when the programme airs in November.


Johnsons of Whixley group managing director, Graham Richardson, said: “Across our business, Johnsons of Whixley is involved in a diverse range of projects, of which many provide care and support to the local community.


“We’re proud to have been able to give our support to a cause as worthwhile as The Roots Foundation, who provide such a valuable service to young people in their community.”


A spokesperson for BBC Children in Need said: “DIY SOS completely relies on the support and generosity of the local community, tradespeople and suppliers to help transform the lives of truly deserving families.


“It’s great to have Johnsons of Whixley on board for this – their donation is huge and is of great support to the project.”

Our Chairman John has won a Lifetime of Achievement Award

Our Chairman John has won a Lifetime of Achievement Award

October 12th, 2017 by

Our Chairman John has won a Lifetime of Achievement Award.

John Richardson has been named as one of the first recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award in The Yorkshire Post newspaper’s Rural Excellence Awards.

John received the honour at the inaugural edition of the awards, held at the Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground on Thursday 12 October.

He was honoured alongside Roger Nicholson, whose family operate Cannon Hall Farm near Barnsley, and agronomist Dave Clark, a pioneer of new techniques who was the first to advise on the use of fungicides for wheat, and use novel products to both control disease and improve grain quality.

John’s own achievements in the horticultural industry span well over half a century, having purchased the business in 1964 with just eight full-time staff in 1964, and grown it to employ more than 100, rising to 150 seasonally.

Under John’s reign, Johnsons has had continuous success. During the last 12 months, the business has delivered a turnover of just over £12m, representing our best ever annual performance.
Today, Johnsons is a true Yorkshire family business, employing three generations of the Richardson family; John’s sons, Graham, Ian and Andrew serve as directors.

Johnsons of Whixley chairman, John Richardson, said: “It was a tremendous honour to be shortlisted alongside such worthy nominees, and an even greater privilege to be named as one of the inaugural winners of the Rural Excellent Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I’d like to congratulate Roger and Dave on their outstanding achievements in their respective industries. They have both proven themselves to be true pioneers and it is humbling to have been named in their company.”

Honey all round as we collect our first batch from our onsite apiary

Honey all round as we collect our first batch from our onsite apiary

September 28th, 2017 by

Honey all round as we collect our first batch from our onsite apiary

We’re delighted to have collected our first batch of honey, after installing an on-site apiary earlier this year.After recognizing the important role that bees play in the UK’s natural eco-system, we partnered with Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association to offer the insects a home at a new apiary, constructed in May.

The British bee population has declined at an alarming rate in recent years, by a third since 2007.

Contributions to the decline include recent wet summers, which have prevented bees from searching out pollen, and environmental changes, such as the increased use of pesticides in farming, alongside the depletion of natural habitats.

Bees are a vital part in the world’s food production, as studies have revealed that around a third of the world’s food is pollination dependent.

The new apiary has already provided a boost to the local bee population, and several jars of honey have now been collected.

Each bee can make half a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime, meaning it takes approximately 180 bees to fill a full jar.

Our group managing director, Graham Richardson, said: “The installation of the on-site apiary has proven a hugely worthwhile exercise. It’s our duty to protect and nurture our eco-system, and this is a small way that we can do just that.”

Have you read our blog on planting trees for bees? you can read it here ‘Planting trees for bees’ 

Welcome to the Johnsons team Laura Holmes

Welcome to the Johnsons team Laura Holmes

February 8th, 2018 by

Welcome to the team Johnsons Laura Holmes

Congratulations to Laura Holmes who has joined the sales team as a Sales Administrator from her previous HR admin role at the City of York Council, here’s what she had to say about her new job.

1) Where did you work prior to Johnsons?
City of York Council

2) What was your previous role at the City of York Council?
HR Administrator – Recruitment

3) What does your role include at Johnsons?
My role at Johnsons is a Sales Administrator. This includes putting orders on, completing and returning quotes, dealing with customer inquiries, telephone calls, logging complaints and much more.

4) How have you found your last few weeks at Johnsons?
I have found the last few weeks at Johnsons very interesting. I am learning a lot of new things and dealing with many different people. It has also been busy which is good for me, because it gives me lots of practice.

5) What are you looking forward to in your new role?
I am looking forward to learning new skills and picking up challenges I will of not of faced in my old role.

6) What do you think the challenges will be?
A challenge I have already come across is learning all the different plant names and varieties also identifying what they look like. I think this will take some time as there are so many to learn!
Senior Amenity Sales Manager Tony Coles said “It is great to welcome Laura into the Amenity sales Team, Laura will help provide vital administrative support for the section, her support will help the Area Managers focus on bringing in new business for the company whilst retaining excellent relationships with our existing clients.”

Johnsons mark Employee Appreciation Day

Johnsons mark Employee Appreciation Day

March 1st, 2018 by

To mark Employee Appreciation Day, some of our members of staff have shared with us what they enjoy about working at Johnsons of Whixley and how the business has supported them in their career.

Group Managing Director Graham Richardson said ” In a largely manual industry we remain very reliant on our employees for every aspect of what we do. The level of motivation and commitment never ceases to amaze us and it couldn’t be more apparent at times of extreme weather or hard-ship. To the team at Johnsons – “thank you all”!

Today is Employee Appreciation Day (2nd March), what do you enjoy about be-ing an employee at Johnsons of Whixley?

Bev Elsworth, Senior Nursery Worker, said: “I love seeing the colourful flowers and foliage of the variety of plants.”

Darren Earle, IT & Systems Manager, said: “I enjoy the variety of work that I get to be involved with. Also the people I work with make it a good environment to be in.”

Jason Clement, Senior Wholesale Plant Centre Assistant, said: “I enjoy being an employee at Johnsons because I’m working outside in the fresh air, the work I do is appreciated, I work in a stress free and friendly environment and I learn new things most days.”

Matt Campey, Despatch Team Member, said: “I enjoy how every day is different and you are always kept busy – the days fly by.”

Describe a typical day at Johnsons of Whixley.

Andrew Barker, Sales Account Manager, said: “Usually very busy, quoting new work, making sure that orders go out and are not delayed and dealing with any issues that arise.”

Eric Buckby, Deputy Manager Container Unit, said: “Setting up the potting machine for crops we intend to pot that day and when the team arrive, and organising what everyone is doing throughout the day.”

Sara Szabo, Retail Senior Supervisor, said: “Quality control, final checking of orders, watering glasshouse, sorting orders for garden centres, deputise for the retail line manager, and sorting out delivery notes for wagons to give to despatch.”

What previous positions have you had at Johnsons?

Bev Elsworth, Senior Nursery Worker, said: “I first started working on the retail line, then I moved onto the amenity orders.”’

Nige Crowl, Maintenance Operative, said: “I was a HGV delivery driver and before that I worked at Johnsons as a general nurseryman“

Sara Szabo, Retail Senior Supervisor, said: “I used to work at the Cattal site with the potting team but had many other tasks including tying and trimming.”

How has Johnsons of Whixley supported you in your career?

Andrew Barker, Sales Account Manager, said: “I have gradually increased my responsibilities and Johnsons of Whixley have provided further training where required.”

Darren Earle, IT & Systems Manager, said: “When I have expressed an interest to be involved in specific areas, I have been given the opportunity to do so. I have had the chance to develop systems in the ways I want which has provided new experiences whilst being the best fit for the business.”

Paul Lamb, Assistant Retail Sales Manager, said: “I have had a number of roles in my time at Johnsons of Whixley, whatever I have done I have never doubted that I didn’t have their full support.”

Tracey Richardson, Receptionist, said: “Johnsons of Whixley have provided me with in house training, and have helped with time off for child care during Summer holidays.”

How does working at Johnsons of Whixley compare to previous jobs you’ve had?

Andrew Barker, Sales Account Manager, said: “It is surprisingly similar to the food industry supply but with not as many cakes!”

Eric Buckby, Deputy Manager Container Unit, said: “When I was farming I was working and on call seven days a week and any holiday was a rarity.”

Matt Campey, Despatch Team Member, said: “Different, At Johnsons on the despatch unit we work as a team, whereas in other jobs I have mainly worked on my own.”

What do you think is the best way to make an employee feel appreciated?

Bev Elsworth, Senior Nursery Worker, said: “Talk to them, explain what’s going on, don’t leave them left out, understand what they are going through, look after them during difficult times.”

Jason Clement, Senior Wholesale Plant Centre Assistant, said: “I think communication is important and being thanked for your hard work is always good.”

Paul Lamb, Assistant Retail Sales Manager, said: “Still keep paying them is a good start! Seriously, it is just the simple things like saying good morning, knowing your name and the fact you’re not a number, and thanking you for your effort.”

What’s your proudest career and personal achievement?
Bev Elsworth, Senior Nursery Worker, said: “Getting 100% in my Spray certificate, teaching myself the different varieties of plants.”

Eric Buckby, Deputy Manager Container Unit, said: “Being appointed as Deputy Manager and always trying to improve output and quality of the team.”

Nige Crowl, Maintenance Operative, said: “I passed my HGV test first time and I have never really fallen out with anyone.”

Paul Horner, Junior Supervisor, said: “Being promoted from nursery worker to supervisor and I met my wife Claire at work.”

Tell us a random fact about yourself

Andrew Barker, Sales Account Manager, said: “We once had a pet chicken called ‘Nuggets’.”

Bev Elsworth, Senior Nursery Worker, said: “Working here is like doing a work out everyday, no need to go to the gym! Also, I enjoy springboard diving at the Hydro in Harrogate.”

Matt Campey, Despatch Team Member, said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to work abroad in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.”

Tracey Richardson, Receptionist, said: “I would love to be an 80s DJ.”

Congratulations to Terry Cooper new system support assistant

Congratulations to Terry Cooper new system support assistant

March 6th, 2018 by

Congratulations to Terry Cooper who has taken on the system support assistant role and will be working alongside IT Manager Darren Earle.

Where did you work prior to Johnsons?
I’ve done quite a bit, worked as an engraver with my uncle for a few months, which seemed interesting but I only really scratched the surface whilst there. I also worked at a guitar shop in York but had to quit as there were just too many strings attached. I have also been a call centre android, supermarket vegetable wrangler, construction site high visibility statue and a chef.

What was your previous role at Johnsons?
I have been working in operations, generally ensuring all orders are processed and allocated correctly,before that I was outside on the nursery, mainly with the plant production team at Cattal.

What will your new role include at Johnsons?
It’s quite a varied role, but mainly I will be involved with providing direct user support, some development and System testing, Cyber security,
General monitoring, Maintaining and updating of the Company’s IT Hardware and Software, I will also have to buffer the calibrated pixel-layer memory matrix to ensure that the quantum-core kernel correctly defrags the encrypted data mainframe and vector-cache.…and of course the classic turning it off and on again.

Have you always had an interest in IT ?
Yeah definitely, us early ‘millennials’ were kids during the time the internet became widely accessible and it was hard not to be influenced by such a fascinating communications revolution.
I also remember getting in trouble at school for repeatedly changing the homepage from askjeeves to google, despite it being the superior search engine.

What are you looking forward to in your new role?
The opportunity to acquire knowledge of a constantly evolving progressive industry sector and seeing tangible benefits where I.T improvements have been implemented.

What do you think the Challenges will be?
Without a doubt remembering what all the acronyms/initialisms stand for, MAC, HTTP, DBMS, DHCP, DNS, TCP/IP, SMTP…. The list is endless!

Is there any specific courses you will be attending to help with your new role?
I have enrolled with the exclusive Darren Earle School of Information Technology which is fantastic, i will also be ‘attending’ various webinars on database administration and SQL, working towards a Microsoft accreditation.

IT Manager Darren Earle said “Seeing Terry’s involvement in a few projects he has worked on in his old role I recognised that he had a flair for IT. Coming from a User role into a Systems role will provide a great benefit to developing new projects. I’m looking forwards to working together”

Family Business - National Siblings Day

Family Business – National Siblings Day

April 10th, 2018 by

Family Business – National Siblings Day

To mark National Siblings Day on Tuesday 10th April, we’re celebrating the brothers and sisters who work together here at Johnsons of Whixley.

Our workforce is made up of 100 employees, which includes three generations of the Richardson family, colleagues with 30 years’ service and employees of different nationalities – combining decades of experience in horticulture.

The business is owned by chairman John Richardson, whose three sons, Andrew, Graham and Iain, all work for the business, along with six of John’s grandchildren.

John’s children and grandchildren have always been hands-on in the nursery, from helping with digging, to testing out their new toy cars around the grounds.

Fast forward to adulthood and two of John’s sons, Andrew and Iain, are joint managing directors, while his other son, Graham, is group managing director. Between them, they are in charge of running the company and overseeing different areas of the business.

As group managing director, Graham Richardson takes a leading role in ensuring delivery and the smooth running of all business obligations. In addition, he oversees the company’s finance, systems, people, administration and marketing.

As joint managing director, Andrew Richardson has a stake in sales, marketing and transport across the group, while joint managing director, Iain Richardson, is responsible for amenity and retail sales, production, logistics, purchasing, maintenance, operations and stock.

The next generation of the Richardson family is John’s grandchildren and Graham’s children Luke, Robert, Ellie and Shaun.

Pictured above Robert, Ellie and Luke

Luke is a senior key account manager, Robert is manager of the Wholesale Cash and Carry unit, Ellie is an office and administration supervisor, with a customer-facing role within the Xpress Cash and Carry division, while Shaun is a wholesale plant centre assistant which involves keeping the Cash and Carry stocked up, collating customer orders, and helping with the general upkeep.

Ellie said: “Growing up around the family business has been lots of fun – I would play out in the nursery most nights after school and it was particularly fun in the summer months when we could run through the water sprinklers! I also used to enjoy jumping in the compost heap!

“I would go to work with my dad most Saturdays and at the age of 14 I would answer phone calls after school and in the school holidays.

“After finishing my beauty qualifications, I had accepted a job working on a cruise ship and started working for the family business before I started working on the cruise ships. At the age of 18 I decided that being thousands of miles away from home was daunting and wasn’t for me. I was enjoying working for the family business and decided to stay and not take up a career on the ships.

“Working with family can be challenging but we all get on so well and are all so close that if there are any differences at work we soon sort them out. Working in sales and seeing the quotes and the money you are making for the business is particularly motivating.”

John said: “As a father, I find it quite exceptional that we can work together all week, and then enjoy meeting up for a meal out at the weekend.”

A warm welcome to Alice Knowles who joins the cash & carry team

A warm welcome to Alice Knowles who joins the cash & carry team

April 18th, 2018 by

A warm welcome to Alice Knowles who joins the cash & carry team.

Alice joins us from RHS Harlow Carr and has a great plant knowledge behind her, Alice will be working front of house on the cash & carry dealing with customer enquiries in person, on the phone and by email, Here’s what she had to say about her new job.

1) Where did you work prior to Johnsons? – spent the last 10 years working in garden centres with the last 4 years at RHS Harlow Carr Plant centre as a team leader.

2) What are the similarities in your old role to your new role at Johnsons? – Customer facing role, giving plant advice, stock ordering.

3) Where did you study and what qualifications did you gain? – 2 years at Bishop Burton Collage doing ND in Horticulture covering subjects such as machinery, propagation and pruning.

4) What will your role include at Johnsons? Front of house, dealing with customer enquiries in store, over the phone and by email, quotes and sales.

5) How have you found your first week at Johnsons? Varied trying to learn all the new systems but the team have been very supportive.

6)What are you looking forward to in your new role? Working alongside a nursery and gaining more horticultural knowledge.

7) What do you think the challenges will be? Trying to remember plant pot sizes/height/container/root ball,the bad weather and not having a Bettys lunch everyday.

8) Tell us a random fact about yourself? I’m a Leeds Rhinos supporter.

Have you met Cash & Carry Manager Luke Richardson? You can find out all about him here ‘Congratulations to Luke Richardson new cash & carry manager’ 

Welcome to the team Simon Harrison

Welcome to the team Simon Harrison

April 20th, 2018 by

Welcome to the team Simon Harrison

We would like to welcome Simon Harrison to the Johnsons Of Whixley team. Simon joins our incoming goods team which is quite the change from his 20 years as a chef In the NHS. Simon’s role will include unloading incoming deliveries, checking off incoming deliveries and putting them in the correct location ready for customer orders or for our own beds of stock.

1) Where did you work prior to Johnsons? I’ve worked in the NHS for the last 20 years as a chef and for the last 10 as the assistant head chef.

2)What did your job role include? Day to day running of a busy kitchen helping organise around 30 staff and up to 1000 meals, I was also responsible for ordering incoming supplies which were needed to run the department but outgoing deliveries also.

3)What will you miss about working at the hospital?
The good friends I have made over the years but I will probably miss the free lunch more!

4)What will your role include at Johnsons? My role within Johnsons currently is working closely with Tony Green and Carolyn Pickard within the incoming goods department, helping unload deliveries that come into the yard then trying to find them a home somewhere on site.

5)How have you found your first few months at Johnsons? I’ve really enjoyed and relished the first few months in my new role.

6)What are you looking forward to in your new role? Learning new skills in a new environment.

7)What do you think the challenges will be? The main challenges are obviously gaining the mind boggling plant knowledge that most people here have but I have surprised myself so far by remembering more and more.

8) What do you get up to outside of work? I enjoy various sports including cycling, squash, boxing and still play football regularly (while my knees let me) I have two young children who keep us very busy! I spend a lot of time watching my son play football too.

Harry Gration helps unveil 'The spirit of the nurseryman' statue

Harry Gration helps unveil ‘The spirit of the nurseryman’ statue

April 25th, 2018 by

Harry Gration helps unveil ‘The spirit of the nurseryman’ statue

BBC Look North’s Harry Gration this week helped unveil a statue commemorating Chairman John Richardson’s more than 60 years’ service to the industry.

The statue, named ‘The Spirit of the Nurseryman’, has been created by wire sculptor Derek Kinzett, and is sited inside the entrance to the business’s main building.

Having recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and after last year receiving a lifetime achievement award for his commitment to Rural Excellence in Yorkshire, the receipt of a statue in his honour came as a surprise.

He said: “I vaguely remember something being said at the time of my 80th birthday, along the lines of something special arriving in due course, but I had no idea beyond that. It’s a tremendous honour.

“I think the statue looks very realistic in dress, attitude and stance and it will look good in front of the office. It’s very well made and realistic and you can appreciate the craftsmanship that’s gone into it.

“It might take some getting used to, but I don’t think I’ll have a problem walking past it each day. I will appreciate my sons’ thoughts every time I see it, and I like the notion that I remind them of a working man.

“However, along with every other person around the place, he looks far younger than me!”

Harry Gration said: “It was a privilege to be involved in such a moving presentation.

“It was clear to me just how much it meant to him, but, typical of the man, he said it was a tribute to the whole company.

“That is what makes Johnsons so special.”

Johnsons of Whixley mark National Volunteers’ Week by helping adults with learning difficulties

Johnsons of Whixley mark National Volunteers’ Week by helping adults with learning difficulties

June 5th, 2018 by

Johnsons of Whixley mark National Volunteers’ Week by helping adults with learning difficulties learn new horticultural skills.

Our very own Ellie Richardson recently spent a day working with Horticap, a charity that provides adults with learning disabilities training in horticulture, allied crafts and rural skills.

Johnsons has an established relationship with Horticap, spanning more than ten years.

Working with the group, Ellie created pom-poms to add to a wired hare sculpture, which will be sold at Harrogate Hospital to raise funds for the charity once completed.

Ellie also learned how the students made hanging baskets, while also making her own.

Volunteers’ Week takes place 1-7 June every year and provides an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.

Ellie said: “Volunteering is important to a lot of staff members here at Johnsons and we’re proud of the time and expertise we have leant to others over the years.

“Volunteering gives you that feel-good factor and it was nice being in a different environment. I really enjoyed my day with Horticap.

“The students, instructors and carers were lovely to me and I will definitely be volunteering with them again.”

Johnsons of Whixley sponsor balloon raffle for local charity ball

Johnsons of Whixley sponsor balloon raffle for local charity ball

June 22nd, 2018 by

Johnsons of Whixley sponsor balloon raffle for local charity ball which supports the Sir Ogden Macmillan Centre, Harrogate.

More than £26,000 was raised towards funding cancer treatments and provide vital supportive services for Harrogate’s patients and carers, to help them live with and beyond a cancer diagnosis.

The Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre (SROMC) provides high quality cancer treatments and health and wellbeing services.

It offers support for people affected by a cancer diagnosis in the Harrogate and rural district community, as well as some patients from the north Leeds area.

Johnsons of Whixley’s Managing Director Graham Richardson said: “It’s important that we contribute to local charities like the Sir Ogden Macmillan Centre which provides high quality cancer treatment and care, we look forward to supporting the charity again next year”

Wish to support the Sir Ogden Macmillan Centre? you can find all the information you need here ‘Sir Ogden Macmillan Centre’

Johnsons staff member gains a close insight to onsite apiary

Johnsons staff member gains a close insight to onsite apiary

June 26th, 2018 by

Johnsons staff member gains a close insight to onsite apiary.

Staff member Ellie Richardson gained a close insight into activity within the apiary and discovered that site now houses more than 400,000 bees.

The Johnsons site is perfect for bees as it provides foraging within the surrounding countryside and utilises the many varied plant stocks grown in the nursery.

Johnsons predicts that their seven on-site beehives could house more than 600,000 bees by July.

Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson said: “Bees are hugely important to us as they pollinate a third of the food we eat.

“But it is only once you start learning about bees that you realise how amazing they are. I am definitely considering taking up a course next year to become a beekeeper myself!”

The British bee population has declined at an alarming rate in recent years, by a third since 2007.

Contributions to the decline include recent wet summers, which have prevented bees from searching out pollen, and environmental changes, such as the increased use of pesticides in farming, alongside the depletion of natural habitats.

Bees are a vital part in the world’s food production, as studies have revealed that around a third of the world’s food is pollination dependent.

York Cares Big Community Challenge 2018

York Cares Big Community Challenge 2018

July 2nd, 2018 by

York Cares Big Community Challenge 2018

We recently offered support to this year’s York Cares initiative that aims to improve outdoor spaces at various local community organizations.

Johnsons of Whixley staff members Ellie Richardson, Corrina Mills, Vicky Newell, Darren Fawbert and Chairman John Richardson, volunteered their time and expertise to support this year’s Big Community Challenge, organized by York Cares, which aims to showcase the positive impact a green environment can have on health, wellbeing and social inclusion.

York Cares is a partnership of the city’s leading employers committed to making the city a better place through employee-volunteering.

This year’s activities included growing and caring for plants, while improving York’s green spaces to benefit different communities in the city, including older people and adults with learning disabilities at Gale Farm Court Independent Living Community; young people experiencing acute mental health issues at Mill Lodge NHS Community Unit, and patients, staff and visitors that use Clarence Gardens at York Hospital.

The Johnsons team of volunteers helped improve the outside space at Mill Lodge, a mental health community unit for 12-18-year olds. The morning involved unloading the plants they supplied, digging and creating stepping stones in the garden, whilst other volunteers made raised beds for vegetables and sensory plants, removing weeds and old plants.

Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson said: “This is our second volunteering project with York Cares. It’s great to offer our support and help a local charity by not only offering volunteers but donating plants to help improve the outside spaces too. We had a mixture of staff attend from Johnsons including our Chairman John Richardson, who at 80 was just as involved in digging and weeding as the younger ones.

“As workers within the horticultural industry, we’re very much aware of the positive impact a green environment can have on those who use it, and we were pleased to lend our time and knowledge to the project, as part of a fantastic team from a range of backgrounds.”

Need a plant donation? we love giving something back to the community and getting our hands dirty, supporting local, regional and national charities and projects.

Over the years we have provided plants and trees to improve outdoor spaces at numerous organizations across the country.

If you, or a charity or initiative you know, would benefit from a donation or support, feel free to get in touch using the contact form on our ‘Contact Us page’

 

Johnsons of Whixley help staff beat the heat with ice lollies

Johnsons of Whixley help staff beat the heat with ice lollies

July 2nd, 2018 by

Johnsons of Whixley help staff beat the heat with ice lollies.

We have pulled out all the stops to help staff beat the heat during the latest heatwave sweeping the UK.

We have purchased and installed freezers at key locations through our 200-acre site – and filled them with complimentary ice creams and ice lollies for staff to enjoy.

Johnsons of Whixley group managing director, Graham Richardson, said: “We recognise the hard work of staff throughout our business, but those that work outside are obviously finding the heat heavy going at the moment.

“We value the wellbeing and happiness of our staff more than anything, so we were glad to make a small investment in freezers and ice lollies to help provide some cooling respite from the searing temperatures.”

Congratulations to Steve Morton on his new role of Despatch Manager

Congratulations to Steve Morton on his new role of Despatch Manager

July 16th, 2018 by

Congratulations to Steve Morton on his new role of Despatch Manager.

1. How many years have you worked for the company?
I have worked here for 20 years, starting in 1998 and working towards an NVQ Level 2 in nursery stock.

2. What previous roles have you had within the company?
I have worked on multiple sites doing roles like lifting, potting and propagation. My last role was retail lifting manager and stock control.

3. What will your new role include at Johnsons?
I am now the despatch manager. The job role includes checking orders off for quality control, making sure all internal transport is complete, and all wagons leave our site.correctly loaded. As well as that, I am responsible for ensuring all health and safety rules are followed.

4.What are you looking forward to in your new role?
I am looking forward to new challenges from my previous roles and being able to be more hands on due to my last role being more computer based.

5.What do you think the challenges will be?
My biggest challenge of this role is learning the despatch side of the business, as this is all new to me.

6.Are there any specific courses you will be attending to help with your new role?
I would like to attend a course so that I can learn about rules and regulations for the drivers, so I can have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

7.Any plans for celebrating your new role?
I may treat myself to some Star Wars collectables.

Congratulations to Luke Richardson new cash & carry manager

Congratulations to Luke Richardson new cash & carry manager

August 8th, 2018 by

Congratulations to Luke Richardson who has now taken on the role of cash & carry manager.

1.How many years have you worked at Johnson’s? 12 Years in varying different positions. My last role was in Amenity Sales managing southern accounts which was a successful period and I achieved a goal of becoming the company’s biggest sales rep last year.

2.What do you like about working in your family’s business? It has it’s challenges but it’s all I know! Sometimes the boundaries between work and home are blurred but in the main it’s only positives. There’s more of a togetherness and as a family we have real pride in our business for what John’s achieved but also gratitude for the sacrifices made to get here.

3.What makes your new role different from your last? In the Cash & Carry I’m responsible for a department and people. Whereas my last role was fulfilling the requirements of large commercial accounts in the amenity landscape sector.

4.What do you think the challenges will be? On a personal level not to be as self-centric which you could say is a sales trait. And for the C&C the age old problem of the weather – I sit here following a tough 6 weeks of heatwave wondering how on earth to plan a budget a year in advance… We are very much at the behest of the elements!!!

5.What are you looking forward to in your new role? There’s a lot more variety to the role and it’s essentially a microcosm of the nursery.

6.What changes do you hope to make during your management of the cash & carry? Nothing drastic as the C&C guys are doing such a good job – it’s about consolidation more than anything!
Operationally there will be a few small changes and I’ll look to revamp the quote process. We have recently implemented a new till system which should improve functionality.

7. Do you think your previous role will help in your new role? My time in amenity has given me an excellent foundation and I feel it will particularly help with sales elements, operations and general organisation. In the past few years I have worked with some great people and to draw experience from someone as knowledgeable as Tony has been invaluable

New till system for Johnsons of Whixley cash & carry unit

New till system for Johnsons of Whixley cash & carry unit

September 12th, 2018 by

New till system for Johnsons of Whixley cash & carry unit

As part of our ongoing investment programme we have recently concluded a project to update our Plant Centre EPOS (Electronic point of sale) Software. Our new iVend software offers improved functionality, an improved interface and greater compatibility with our main SAP Business One system.

New cash & Carry Manager Luke Richardson, previously Johnsons’ southern area sales rep, has worked for the business for 12 years and has experience of working with some of the company’s largest customers.

He said: “Our £12k investment is significant and means that we can have a system that ensures greater stability, better reporting and – above all – a smoother and more efficient customer shopping experience.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in my previous role and I’m proud for what we achieved in a very successful period. The opportunity to manage the cash and carry division wasn’t one I could refuse, and I look forward to the challenge. Rob has built a strong foundation and I’d like to build upon that success.”

Welcome to the team George Metcalfe

Welcome to the team George Metcalfe

October 8th, 2018 by

We would like to welcome George Metcalfe to the team who joins us as part of a two year management trainee programme which Johnsons hopes will provide a vocational platform from which the business’s future leaders can emerge.

1. Have you had any previous experience in horticulture?
Yes both as a gardener and a grower.

2. Where did you study?
Askham Bryan College

3. Have you had any previous jobs?
Yes, as a gardener and grower – in my last role i grew mostly bedding plants, pansies and violas.

4. What will your training at Johnsons involve?
Working at the various different sites, getting familiar with many aspects of what we do here and why.

5. What have you enjoyed so far?
Meeting the team and working closely with various plants down at the Whixley unit.

6. What are you looking forward to in your new role?
I’m mostly looking forward to an external nursery work placement in August, I expect this will give me a chance to learn a great deal.

7. What do you think the challenges will be?
Moving around a lot will keep me on my toes and ill have to learn to adapt quickly.

8. Tell us a random fact about yourself?
My favourite tree is Betula pendula because of its aesthetics and its many uses.

Have you read what our other management trainee Tom Watkins had to say? You can read his blog post here: ‘ A warm welcome to Tom Watkins ‘ 

A warm welcome to Tom Watkins

A warm welcome to Tom Watkins

October 10th, 2018 by

A warm welcome to Tom Watkins who joins the Johnsons of Whixley team as part of a two year management trainee programme which Johnsons hopes will provide a vocational platform from which the business’s future leaders can emerge.

1. Where did you work prior to Johnsons and what did your role include?
Battlefield farms, Virginia. Large scale commercial greenhouse that specialised in ornamentals, predominately annual bedding plants. I was an intern working as a grower.

2. Did you go to a horticultural college?
Yes Askham Bryan College, York

3. What makes the industry attractive to you?
I like the satisfaction of seeing a crop throughout its growth cycle and enjoy that each season is different.

4. What will your training at Johnsons involve?
Understanding how the business is run by working on different placements within Johnsons including getting to know the customers and suppliers.

5. What have you learnt so far?
As well as general nursery duties that are to be carried out on site I am starting to understand how orders are received, processed, prepared and despatched.

6. What are you looking forward to in your new role? I am looking forward to taking on interesting projects and gaining management experience.

7. What do you think the challenges will be?
In an industry that is constantly changing I think the challenges will lie in adapting to those changes, that and learning everyone’s name.

8. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy cooking and I am a keen fisherman

Have you read what our other management trainee George Metcalfe had to say? You can read his blog post here: ‘Welcome George Metcalfe’

Plant donation for Love Your Home and Garden

Plant donation for Love Your Home and Garden

August 11th, 2018 by

Plant donation for Love Your Home and Garden

Earlier on in the year we teamed up with the Love Your Home and Garden team to supply a number of plants to the value of over £600.

The supply was for a single mum and her severely disabled son in Mansfield. Josh is 16 and the equipment he needs to support him and enable his mum, Benita, to move him around was getting so big that he was confined to one room in the house.

The project included not only an indoor renovation to help add some much needed open space, but a complete outdoor makeover too.

The plant donation included Helleborus, Heucheras, vincas, ceanothus trellis and a number of other shrubs and herbaceous varieties.

We donated 55 different plant lines and made the 72-mile trip to deliver the plants. We hope Benita and Josh get to enjoy their newly renovated home and garden for many years to come.

Ellie Richardson, marketing co-ordinator for Johnsons of Whixley, said: “It’s great to donate a number of plants to the Love Your Home and Garden team, our plants are very visual so to make such an impact for a great cause is wonderful”

Missed the episode? you can click on the link here to find out more information Love Your Home and Garden Episode 1

Need a plant donation? we love giving something back to the community and getting our hands dirty, supporting local, regional and national charities and projects.

Over the years we have provided plants and trees to improve outdoor spaces at numerous organizations across the country.

If you, or a charity or initiative you know, would benefit from a donation or support,feel free to get in touch using the contact form on our Contact Us page

Johnsons Landscape Architect training day 2018

Johnsons Landscape Architect training day 2018

October 12th, 2018 by

Johnsons Landscape Architect training day 2018

We hosted our Landscape architect training day on Thursday, 4th October, where we invite landscape architects and garden designers for a free one-day course to help broaden their knowledge of plants, planting and to gain an insight into what we do.

The full course date was taken up by nine members of Macgregor Smith, a landscape architect and award-winning practice, based in Bath that consists of landscape architects, urban designers and architects.

This is our third course, having first started in 2016, and the in-depth training day was led by our production manager, Ian Nelson, who has 40 years’ experience in the horticultural industry. Ian holds a HND in Horticulture and is a panel member on the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The session covered topics including natural hybridisation, basic propagation, planting and after care, contract grows and new plants.

Ian was assisted by Johnsons’ key account sales member, Andrew Barker.

Andrew said: “This is a great learning experience for new and experienced landscape designers and architects to help build knowledge of what we do and why we do it. It also provides an effective opportunity for a two-way discussion between the nursery and landscape architects.”

There are limited spaces available to attend our courses which are free to attend. To register your interest, or to book onto a course for next year, contact Ian Nelson on: iann@nurserymen.co.uk or Andrew Barker on: andrewb@nurserymen.co.uk

New Dynamic Dispatch Duo Steve Morton & Matt Campey

New Dynamic Dispatch Duo Steve Morton & Matt Campey

October 26th, 2018 by

New Dynamic Dispatch Duo Steve Morton & Matt Campey

Congratulations to Matt Campey who will be taking on a new role as Deputy Dispatch Manager from November 1st, this follows on from our new Dispatch Manager, Steve Morton, who took on the management role back in July this year.

With over 12,000 deliveries per year and on average 120 deliveries per week during our busiest season, the dispatch unit is very much at the heart of what we do.

Matt started with us in summer 2016 as a Dispatch Operative where he helped assist with the dispatch unit, he then went on to be a Senior Nursery Worker before returning to the dispatch unit where he became Dispatch Supervisor.

As Deputy Dispatch Manager, Matt’s role includes assisting the Dispatch Manager, checking orders off for quality control, making sure all internal transport is complete and all wagons leave our site correctly loaded.

Steve joined us in 1998 and has worked on multiple sites doing roles like lifting, potting and propagation. His last role was retail lifting manger and stock control.

With Steve’s knowledge, management skills and Matt’s experience in the dispatch unit, we already know our orders and trucks are in more than capable hands.

Steve said: “Congratulations to Matt on his new role. I am looking forward to working alongside him to improve the dispatch department. I am sure myself and Matt will learn off one another in our new roles together.”

Steve said: “Congratulations to Matt on his new role. I am looking forward to working alongside him to improve the dispatch department. I am sure myself and Matt will learn off one another in our new roles together.”

Matt said: “I’m very happy to have achieved this role in the Despatch Department. I’m looking forward to working alongside Steve Morton, where between us we can not just learn from each other, but help to improve the efficiency of the department as well. Tom and Chris have played a large role in helping both myself and Steve to gain the knowledge needed in our department roles. As a team we work extremely well together, and I look forward to the years to come.”

Johnsons remembrance memories for armistice day

Johnsons remembrance memories for armistice day

November 11th, 2018 by

Johnsons remembrance memories for armistice day

As the nation commemorated Remembrance Sunday, we wanted to share this piece from our Group Director, Graham Richardson, on the impact war hero, Eric Johnson, has made on our company – an impact we are truly grateful for and respectful of his remarkable time fighting for our country.

At this time of year, the nation has been reflecting on the Great War and the Victorious Armistice signed 100 years ago on November 11th, at 11am, 1918.

From a personal perspective, it evokes powerful boyhood memories of our business founder, Mr Eric Johnson.

I recall badgering him about his wartime experiences – the response was his usual warm smile, a chuckle and a twinkle in his eye – little else!

On occasion, we would go to the nursery house, open a large cupboard in an unused room and I’d see a range of artefacts collected in order that his experiences would never truly be forgotten.

Mr Eric Johnson

His Webley Scott service revolver (decommissioned) was in pristine condition and was still in its highly-polished walnut brown leather holster – I can still smell the rifle oil and leather to this day!

Components of standard issue ‘Mills Bomb’ (Hand Grenade). Bayonets gathered from a distant Flanders battlefield (Allied and German), his Trench Great Coat. All items of wonder to a small boy.
To this day, I retain the Fuse of a ‘Stokes’ mortar bomb kept as a relic by Mr Johnson and passed on to me via his family. It sits pride of place on my desk!

Type 146 Percussion Fuse – 3” Stokes Mortar

Mr Johnson rarely discussed his experiences. We know that he lost many members of his immediate platoon on more than one occasion. He expressed his revulsion at the smell of whisky, which always brought back horrific memories of drinking heavily following a particularly ‘costly raid’. An extract from the war diaries of his regiment (1/7th Middlesex) paints a vivid, and terrible,

picture:
No’s 2 and 2a Parties – Enemy Trench Raid 18/29 May 1918 – Wancourt Road
Zero Hour – 11pm.

“A hostile party was also encountered between trench running from L to D. These were also engaged. Estimate hostile casualties 32. The platoon found a considerable number of German dead in the trenches. A few of the enemy threw themselves down and pretended to be dead. All ‘dead’ men were bayoneted on passing out.”

Centre Platoon
The Lewis Gun fired two magazines and accounted for 20 of the enemy. Range less than 50yds. Panic stricken enemy were observed running about in front of the trench of which 3 were killed by Lieut Mackenzie. One wounded prisoner and one light machine gun was captured by this platoon. The platoon claims having inflicted 35 casualties which can be taken as reliable. ORKNEY Trench was strongly held and the men went over with the intention killing and they carried out this intention.

Mr Johnson applied for a commission as an officer after having served in Leeds University’s cadet force. His records say that he stood 5ft 8in tall, with an expanded chest of 34 inches and a weight of 120lbs (8.5 stone). He was above average height and build for the time.

On mobilisation, he was made a private in the 3/5th Battalion of the Buffs (East Kent Regt) a training unit of the territorial force. He never actually joined his unit, instead joining number 8 officer cadet battalion in Lichfield Staffordshire in March 2016, at the age of 19. He passed the course in September 2016 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.

He was seconded to the 1/7th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and the war diaries note his arrival at ‘La Gorgue’ near the town of Estaires – here he joined his colleagues for the first time as they rested ‘out of the line’.

His division (167th Infantry Brigade in 56th London Division) had seen action at the Battle of the Somme and were relieved, exhausted on October 9th.

His battalion next went into action at Neuvile Vitasse nr Arras when the Britsh Third Army launched another massive attack in April 1917. In July, they moved out to the rear of YPRES (Called ‘Wipers’ by Mr Johnson) – the Third Battle of Ypres unfolded.

On August 16, the division attacked through two strongly-held positions called Glencorse Wood and Nonne Bosschen – soon after they were relieved having suffered 2,900 casualties.

Mr Johnson then went on to serve at the Battle of Cambrai (I recall his ref to Cambrai Wood). As the war ground on the German massed for a massive counter attack in March 2018 and his division fought a magnificent rear-guard defence against a many time greater number of German Attackers.

By now, the Allies were in the ascendancy and his division was to assist in piercing the impregnable ‘Hindenburg Line’ between Cambrai and Saint-Quentin. The German defensive structure was broken forever in the west.

Extract from war diary on 11/11/1918 – Armistice

Following the end of hostilities, Mr Johnson remained with his unit ensuring order and assisting with refugees until demobilisation in 1920 when he was ‘stood down’.

The rest is history, as they say, he returned to his native Yorkshire and started cultivating garden and landscape shrubs on his wife’s land Nr Cattal Station.
His business soon expanded and, by 1964, he was growing on 11 acres of land with 11 staff members.

John Richardson took over soon after and developed a great friendship with Mr Johnson based on respect.

We are hugely proud of Mr Johnson and the business’s pedigree – remembrance Sunday and the Armistice is a wonderful time when we reflect on Mr Johnson, his lost pals and the sacrifices made by all our armed forces at this time and indeed in every conflict since.

Whilst our business has now been in ‘Richardson’ ownership longer than that of Mr Johnson, our name will always reflect Mr Johnson what he created and the sacrifices he made along the way.

Johnsons are crowned as one of the region’s best businesses

Johnsons are crowned as one of the region’s best businesses

November 14th, 2018 by

We are proud to have been crowned as one of the region’s best businesses for the second year running.

Compiled by York Business School, York St John University, Make it York and The Press publication, the ‘York Top 100 Businesses’ report has nominated Johnsons as 34th place in the ‘Top 100 Businesses’ awards for 2018.

The Top 100 shortlist is calculated using an algorithm devised by York Business School and considers key performance factors such as turnover, profit, growth and staff numbers – with Johnsons placed at number 55 in 2017 – the report’s inaugural year.

Johnsons was first established in 1921 by World War One veteran, Eric Johnson, the firm’s current chairman, John Richardson, took over the business in 1964 and established it as Johnsons of Whixley Ltd in 1993.

John joined Johnsons marketing co-ordinator, Ellie Richardson, at the Top 100 Businesses breakfast held on 14th November at York St John University to find out their company’s official placing.
He said: “It’s fantastic to be featured alongside so many first-class businesses in the Top 100 list. The company continues to work hard to ensure that the right decisions are made to keep the business pushing forward during uncertain times. The Top 100 accolade is testament to the staff who, as always, are extremely supportive of the company’s objectives and ambitions and we look forward to continuing to be a significant contributor to the ‘green’ environment.”

 

Johnsons raise £300 for Children in Need

Johnsons raise £300 for Children in Need

November 16th, 2018 by

Johnsons raise £300 for Children in Need on Friday 16th November.

Staff raised the money by taking part in a ‘wear your pyjamas to work day’ where staff put in £1 for wearing pyjamas and £2 for those who didn’t, staff also made buns and biscuits to sell to help boost the funds further.

BBC Children in Need is the BBC’s UK corporate charity, they provide grants to projects in the UK which focus on children and young people who are disadvantaged. 2,400 projects are currently supported by Children in Need, a great charity which we are happy to support.

Ellie Richardson, marketing co-ordinator for Johnsons of Whixley, said: “It’s fantastic to have raised £300 for Children in Need, we raised £350 for Macmillan’s biggest coffee morning back in September so it’s great to have raised a substantial amount for another well known charity”

For more information on Children in Need you can visit their website here Children in Need.

You can also contact us with charity enquiries here Contact us

Johnsons trial plant pots aimed at reducing landfill

Johnsons trial plant pots aimed at reducing landfill

November 2nd, 2018 by

Johnsons trial plant pots aimed at reducing landfill.

We are excited to be trialling a revolutionary new type of plant pot to fight the industry battle against plastic waste.

The new taupe-coloured plant pots, in collaboration with pot manufacturer Aeroplas UK, are made from 98 per cent of recycled plastic and are detectable by domestic waste separation systems which means they can be put back into the recycling stream.

They are distinct from standard pots, which feature a carbon pigment that compromises recognition, and results in millions of pots ending up in landfill every year.
The new product is set to be tested throughout 2019 to identify any impact on growing performance. If no issues are found, the new pots will be available to the company’s garden centre customers across 2020.

Mark Reynard, Johnsons of Whixley’s Garden Centre sales manager, said: “As an industry we need to work together on ways to reduce landfill to keep our environment thriving.
“This innovative way is a small part of a much wider issue so we are really keen to find out how the tests go and hopefully this can be the beginning of various ways we, as a business and industry, continue to keep taking care of our surroundings.”

Johnsons get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’ with a company gin!

Johnsons get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’ with a company gin!

December 4th, 2018 by

Johnsons get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’ with a company gin!

Following a successful project to develop corporate ales ‘Whixley Gold’ and ‘Copper Beech’, the next exciting step was the creation of our own high-quality London Dry Gin.

Discussions with local distilling experts ‘Corks & Cases’ of Masham helped the project to proceed… and we have now proudly taken delivery of our first batch.

Our ‘Quixley Gin’ is named after the village of Whixley formally known as ‘Quixley’ in the 14th century. For many years, Quixley (now Whixley) was famous for cherries which were originally cultivated by the friars from the Priory of Knaresborough and, in later times, were sold in London at Covent Garden. A great day of celebration was the annual Whixley Cherry Feast held on the first Sunday in August. The word feast meant “festival” rather than the scoffing of huge amounts of the fruit too!

The ‘Quixley Gin’ concept is the brainchild of Ellie Richardson who is a third-generation member of the Richardson family who bought the now-Johnsons of Whixley business from First World War veteran, Eric Johnson, in 1964.

The gin was first produced at the Spirit of Masham’s distillery following a ‘Gin Experience’ gin creation afternoon. A group of Johnsons employees worked alongside Derek and Jake (Gin Experience experts) to create a range of cherry-themed gins before reducing the shortlist to our collective favourite.

The label features an illustration taken from a bygone photo of the village, along with cherry blossom graphics to enhance the ‘Quixley’ story.

The gin will be given to long-term customers and suppliers as a thank you for their custom over the years.

Johnsons of Whixley’s marketing co-ordinator, Ellie Richardson, said: “I’m extremely proud of my heritage and where I have grown up and, along with a natural love of gin, I thought Quixley Gin was the perfect concept.

“We think our horticulturally-themed gin creates a fitting connection between Whixley village and Johnsons of Whixley who still sell 50,000 cherry trees annually.”

Four employees reach 105 years of service combined

Four employees reach 105 years of service combined

December 20th, 2018 by

Four employees reach 105 years of service combined.

Group Managing Director, Graham Richardson, has achieved 35 years with us, alongside assistant retail manager, Paul Lamb for as many years, as well as Adrian Price who has been with us since 1993, with a total service of 25 years, and Gary Sutton, our accounts manager, who has been with us for ten years.

To celebrate their long service, each staff member has received a certificate and vouchers to the value of £350 for 35 years, £250 for 25 years and £100 for ten years.

We asked them some questions about their time at Johnsons, see what they had to say below:

Paul Lamb, Retail Assistant Manager – 35 years’ service

1. How did your career at Johnsons start?
25th May 1983, I left school then the next day I had a job interview at Johnsons of Whixley before starting on a trial basis with the company on 1st June of the same year. I was then offered a job on 15th June during a time when there were nearly three million unemployed, so I was happy to be in work.

2. Was this your first job?
I was supposed to start on the tree unit (Newlands – that’s when it was full of trees) but John came into the canteen on my first day and said they were short staffed at Whixley propagation unit. So, I went up there to help out for a couple of weeks… and I’m still there eight years later!
My first job was knocking out rooted cuttings at Whixley in tunnels on a very wet day with a fella called Iain Richardson. Not sure what became of him?!

3. Does it feel like you’ve been here 35 years?
It’s a bit strange really as I don’t feel 35-years older, but the numbers don’t lie. It really does only seem like 10 or 15 years ago since I started and I feel very proud to have worked at JOW for so long. I’m even more proud of the fact that they still want me after 35 years.

4. What has changed most at Johnsons in the last 35 years?
Just about everything… Spades in particular! How many of those do you see on the nursery now? There was a time when everybody had their own and, woe betide, if you picked up the wrong one. So many aspects of the business have changed over the years, from the way we produce to the way we despatch. But the end goal has never changed.

5. What have you enjoyed most about your time at Johnsons?
This one is easy. It’s when I have spent a lot of years at Johnsons working outside and being involved in producing something which is an environmental benefit to us all, this is a pleasure in itself. But my biggest enjoyment over the years has been the people I’ve worked with.I have been lucky enough to work on some units for the past 35 years and the people and characters you meet along the way have given, and are still giving me, some great memories.

6.What’s your proudest career and personal achievement?
Having had seven different roles at Johnsons so far! This has given me lots of great opportunities over the years to implement changes and to see the benefit they have made.
To be still here 35 years on is excellent too. Nobody starts a job thinking, “I’ll be here in 35 years time,” but I am, and I still want to be. Johnsons is a family business and it is great to be still involved in its future.

Graham Richardson, Group Managing Director – 35 years’ service

1. How does it feel to have reached 35 years at Johnsons?
Saying it sounds longer than it feels!

2. Was this your first career?
Yes, from school to one year of work experience on a nursery near Skipton and then an official start at Johnsons.

3. What have you liked most about your 35 years in the company?Working with family and colleagues who you consider friends, not just fellow employees.

4. What’s your proudest career and personal achievement?
Contributing to the success and security of the business. My personal achievement has to be my relationship with my kids.

5. And finally what do you hope for the future of the family business?
Continued security and success for those reliant on a living from Johnsons of Whixley.

A warm welcome to Jozsef Szabo

A warm welcome to Jozsef Szabo

December 6th, 2018 by

A warm welcome to Jozsef Szabo who joins the cash & carry team as Plant Centre Assistant.

Jozsef’s role will include serving customers, helping load customer orders, helping put down stock and sales admin.

Cash and Carry Manager, Luke Richardson said: “We are delighted to have Joszef on board. He’s a great guy with a strong work ethic and I have been impressed with his astute ability to adapt to our unique systems. It’s testament to his hard work that he’s already contributed in helping achieve our best November on record (by some distance)”.

1.Is this your first job at Johnsons?
No, I worked at the Cattal site for 6 months.

2.What did your previous role include?
I started at Cattal with the potting team, after a few months I moved to the lifting department where I helped pick orders.

3. What did you work as back in Hungary?
I worked for Puma as a shop assistant and stock room assistant for 5 years.

4. Is this your first job in the UK?No, I started working in a hotel as a house keeper and linen porter around 4 years ago when I moved to the UK. The hard work paid off when I was promoted to head of housekeeping, I spent a year and a half in that role then decided I wanted a change so decided to apply for a job at Johnsons.

5. What do you like most about the UK?
I like that People are so polite and helpful.

6. What do you like least about the UK?
The weather

7. What do you like to do outside of work?
I like watching football, playing poker or reading a book if I get any spare time.

8. What do you miss about your country?
My family and friends

You can find out what previous cash & carry administrator Ellie Richardson is now up to here ” A change of roles – Ellie Richardson “

A change of roles - Ellie Richardson - Marketing & Sales Coordinator

A change of roles – Ellie Richardson – Marketing & Sales Coordinator

December 10th, 2018 by

A change of roles – Ellie Richardson – Marketing & Sales Coordinator

Ellie is set to start a gradual withdrawal from her ‘Xpress Plant Centre” focus which will be complete by December 2018.

As a victim of her own success Ellie assumes responsibility for Social Media, Website and Electronic communications and a coordinators role for all things marketing.

Group MD Graham Richardson says “Ellie has been instrumental in relaunching and managing our Marketing Focus, her natural flair and drive coupled with a ‘young persons’ understanding of electronic media has been nothing short of spectacular” – “working alongside our marketing partners Faith PR we have gone from having a very limited marketing and PR profile to be industry leading in a very short period of time, an increased focus will bring even more positives”!

Ellie’s time will be spent managing our various social media platforms, content management, cultivating prospects, press release co-ordination/management, website management and development, staff events such as year-end celebrations and rewards, charity events and some other internal duties.

Ellie will also be looking at taking on HR elements in the New Year alongside Chris Davis and Helen Straw, she plans to attend a CIPD course in 2019 as well as various marketing courses.

Ellie commented “ I could not have had a better grounding than my 6 years working in the plant centre which is a micro business within wider business operations, during this time I have loved interacting with customers (old and new) and have managed some fabulous key accounts – Lizzie Tulip and Helen to name but a few” I am looking forward to this next and exciting opportunity and have no doubt that an increased focus on Marketing and PR, particularly through new media platforms has a very obvious benefit for customers, staff and ultimately business performance, I also look forward to the challenges.

Johnsons - Planting Trees for Bees

Johnsons – Planting Trees for Bees

January 8th, 2019 by

Johnsons – Planting Trees for Bees

When we think of plants for bees we naturally think of Lavender, Echinacea and other predominantly flowering species.

Rarely, however, do we think of trees as a major source of pollen for bees.

A tree is larger in size and therefore has lots more flower head area which, in-turn, provides a plentiful food source in one place.

Trees provide a source of food in early spring and autumn when a lot of other species have stopped flowering.

In recognition of this we are committed to planting a range of bigger trees which will help provide a wider source of food over a longer period of time. Species include:

Heptacodium miconoides, which will provide a rich pollen source in autumn.

For spring, we will plant Prunus cerasifera (Plum Cherry), Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn) ,Malus sylvestris (Wild Crab), Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan) and Tilia europaea (European lime) which will ensure a rich summer feast.

As an aperitif we will be sowing a rich mix of wild flower seed in the immediate vicinity.

We are delighted with our ‘Apiary’ success to date and hope that this extra TLC will pay dividends in terms of the extent and health of our already successful honey bee community.

Want to create a bee friendly garden ? check out our guide ‘Creating a bee friendly garden”Creating a bee friendly garden”

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