Latest Stories

  1. Chris Myers Guest Blog

    Chris Myers Guest Blog

    Celebrity gardener Chris Myers, best known as presenter of Channel 4’s ‘Wild Things’ programme and as one of the UK’s foremost ‘off-grid’ gardeners, is one of Johnsons of Whixley’s guest bloggers. This month he discusses the role nature can play in our mental wellbeing, following the recent tragic events in Manchester.

    As I prepared for this month’s blog I was confident that show gardens – Chelsea in particular – would feature heavily.

    I even went to bed last night thinking about this year’s Chelsea gardens – who would win what, and of course with a keen interest in how the Welcome to Yorkshire garden, designed by Tracy Foster, would fare.

    I missed most of the coverage and highlights from press day, opting to strim my grass bankings instead, safe in the knowledge that medals day would provide me with the thrills I needed to get the most of my Chelsea fix.

    Excitement got the better of me and having gone to bed I put the news channel on hoping to see a few Chelsea headlines in the newspaper review, but that wasn’t to be, ‘twas all about the election… damn!

    As I prepared to turn off the TV a breaking news story was read out – an incident at the Manchester Arena. Having been there on numerous occasions I stayed tuned, and we all know what was to unfold.

    I watched well into the early hours as the horror deepened. Eventually my eyes fell heavy and I slept. But when I awoke the story flooded back, and I turned on the news – it was worse.

    I left for work feeling sick inside, thinking of the victims and their families.

    I was down with the world – what hope was there for us, and for our children? I had not a care for Chelsea. The excitement was gone.

    My work for the day took me to a wood next to a river with a footpath running through.

    The wind moved the trees gracefully, the colourful flowers of pink campion, wood avens and bugle bobbed and nodded, while bees and bugs busied themselves.

    I began to feel better inside. The soft babble of the river soothed my mind and I began to think positive thoughts.

    It wasn’t long before people began to walk the path. We talked about the horror in Manchester, but the essence of every conversation was that after such a shocking event it felt good to spend time amongst the plants, trees and by the water.

    This got me thinking about how my mood was changed by my surroundings.

    My thoughts moved on to gardeners, landscapers and designers.

    We provide places full of plants, water features, trees, which all contribute to a home environment that helps us escape the stress of everyday life – we are therapists!

    I don’t think we’ll ever see an end to acts of terrorism, but as long as we’ve got plants (and water!!), we’ve got hope.

    Take care,
    Chris

    Posted 6th Jun 2:26pm
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  2. Chris Myers, Best in Show

    Chris Myers, Best in Show

    Hello again,

    For the last 12 years, building show gardens has formed part of the work my team and I do. This year I was commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society to design & produce a show garden based on a Welsh myth or legend, to be exhibited at the RHS Cardiff Flower Show.

    I was given a budget to work to, but from there on it was up to me to come up with a theme and design. I found this all quite exciting; knowing nothing about Welsh myths or legends meant that I had an excuse to read, explore – and get inspired!

    Inspiration came in the form the legend of Blodeuwedd, a woman who was created from flowers to be the wife of the hero Lleu. According to the myth, while her husband was away, Blodeuwedd fell in love with a neighbour and together they hatched a plan to kill Lleu.

    Protected by his mother, Lleu’s life could only be taken by improbable circumstances, while he took a bath under a thatched roof by a river. Receiving a well-aimed spear, Lleu thwarted death and turned into an eagle, and with the help of magic was turned back to human form. As punishment, he turned Blodeuwedd into a tawny owl and banished her to a solitary life in the woods.

    The garden I designed represented different elements of the story. A thatched canopy above a bath marked the scene of the attempted murder. As Lleu did not die I chose to have blossom and wild flowers along the banks of a river-like water feature, with the sculpture of an owl looking on.

    As an added quirk and focal point I made the water in bath spill out over the sides. The RHS loved the design and the creation began.

    To create a garden worthy of any show takes time and warrants quality throughout, and I am lucky to have contacts in the horticultural world who I can rely on.

    I was able to fill the garden with top notch plants from Johnsons of Whixley.

    The garden was framed with some really amazing ivy screens, grown by Johnsons and supplied by Greentech, and a stunning owl sculpture from Graculus Sculptures, in Swaledale, really set the garden off. With a few additional extras from my hoard of plants, trees and junk – bath included – the garden was ready. Following a week of building in Cardiff all looked good.

    The RHS judges came and had a look prior to the show opening and the first day of the show started well, with blue skies and lots of visitors flooding into the show ground.

    Then it got even better – the garden was presented with a Gold medal & awarded ‘Best in Show’! Happy days!

    The award is a credit to the hard work of my team and a reflection of the quality of the plants and materials used.

    Next up – Chelsea? Maybe one day…

    Take care,

    Chris

    Posted 26th Apr 10:16am
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  3. Johnsons congratulates Chris Myers on ‘Best in Show’ award at RHS Cardiff

    Johnsons congratulates Chris Myers on ‘Best in Show’ award at RHS Cardiff

    Johnsons of Whixley has congratulated Chris Myers on winning ‘Best in Show’ at the RHS Show Cardiff for his garden celebrating the mythical tale of ‘Bloudeuwedd’.

    According to the myth, Blodeuwedd was a woman created from flowers, and the wife of the hero Lleu.

    While her husband was away, Blodeuwedd fell in love with a neighbour and together they hatched a plan to kill Lleu while he bathed.

    But Lleu thwarted death, and transformed into an eagle to flee, before returning to human form.

    As punishment, Lleu turned Blodeuwedd into a tawny owl and she was banished to live a solitary life in the woods.

    Elements from this magical story were represented in the garden.

    Chris also received a Gold Medal in recognition of the high standard of his garden.

    Johnsons is proud to have supplied plants to the award-winning garden, including ferns, ivy, blackthorn and oak.

    RHS Cardiff was held at Bute Park in the heart of the city centre, and celebrated the best of springtime while encouraging visitors to learn and grow as gardeners.

    Chris, who is best known as the presenter of Channel 4’s ‘Wild Things’, is a regular guest blogger on the Johnsons website.

    Congratulations, Chris!

    Posted 11th Apr 2:01pm
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  4. Johnsons supplies Chris Myers’ mythical garden at RHS Cardiff

    Johnsons supplies Chris Myers’ mythical garden at RHS Cardiff

    We are pleased to be supplying plants to Chris Myers’ RHS Cardiff Show Garden, which this year celebrates the story of ‘Bloudeuwedd’.

    The garden, which is open between 7th and 9th April at the RHS Show Cardiff, will feature ferns, ivys, blackthorn and oak provided by Johnsons.

    Chris is a guest blogger on the Johnsons website and his relationship with us stretches back almost ten years.

    He is best known as the presenter of Channel 4’s Wild Things programme, for his RHS Gold Award Winning Show Gardens, and as an ‘off grid’ gardener in the wilds of the Yorkshire Dales.

    Chris’s Garden for 2017 is named ‘Blodeuwedd’, and inspired by the legend of the Welsh mythological character of the same name.

    Chris’s woodland and water garden incorporates elements of the couple’s fateful story.

    The story of Blodeuwedd is truly magical. According to the myth, Blodeuwedd was a woman created from flowers, and the wife of the hero Lleu.

    While her husband was away, Blodeuwedd fell in love with a neighbour and together they hatched a plan to kill Lleu while he bathed.

    But Lleu thwarted death, and transformed into an eagle to flee, before returning to human form.

    As punishment, Lleu turned Blodeuwedd into a tawny owl and she was banished to live a solitary life in the woods.

    Different elements of this magical story are represented in the garden.

    A thatched canopy above a bath marks the scene of the attempted murder, blossom and wild flowers bloom along the banks of the river represent Lleu’s life, while the sculpture of an owl looks on.

    Posted 17th Mar 9:43am
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  5. Chris Myers' March guest blog

    Chris Myers' March guest blog

    Hello again

    In my previous blog I told you a bit about how life as a child shaped me into a lover of nature with an addiction for the outdoors, but what took to me from enthusiastic child/teenager to modern day designer?? Money!! Yes that’s right….my parents had brought me up to appreciate that I had to earn my privileges in life and I wasn’t long into my teens before pocket money was stopped and I was encouraged to work for my pennies! Naturally I took on the paper round & milk round that many teenage boys had, but I was keen, and it wasn’t long before I was doing odd jobs in local gardens.

    Strangely it was golf courses that came next. After several family holidays abroad staying with an Aunt and Uncle who managed swish foreign courses I thought I might have discovered a way to earn good money by being outdoors, and get to ride about on fancy tractors to boot… But after studying an amenity horticulture course at Askham Bryan College for three years, I lasted only four months in my first job as a green keeper. Long term sitting on a lawnmower and going round and round just wasn’t for me. Boring!!

    A job as assistant head gardener on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate followed. I was out of the world of grass and into a rich world of plants, landscape and being outdoors. There was no looking back. Four years later I moved on to become head gardener on a private 40 acre estate.

    It was at this point that I got involved in the world of Show Gardens, working with some green fingered residents of Gargrave, North Yorkshire, we won my first Gold (and best in show) at Gardener’s World Live 2004 for the Waterscape.com garden. We even built a life sized canal as part of this showpiece. The success of this, my first design, spring boarded me into a career as a self employed designer and it wasn’t long before I’d formed a team and we were building my designs full time.

    Since then I’ve gone on to win further acclaim and prizes. The ‘Garden of Natural Goodness’ at Gardener’s World Live 2009 earned another gold as did my Bodgery Garden in 2011. My home patch inspired gardens ‘At A Dales Pace’ & ‘YDMT HayTime’ won silver gilt at the RHS Tatton & BBC Gardeners World Shows. It’s these grassroots and a love of my home turf here in Yorkshire that I keep returning to in design work, which I now do full time for a string of private clients.

    All those years spent rummaging around outdoors now play a key part in the kind of gardens I like to design. Mother Nature continues to amaze me. So, taking a bit of Yorkshire and a bit of nature into the formal setting like Hampton Court or Tatton remains my quest, and trying to work with the wild side continues to be my daily challenge. After all, I am a man who loves nettles and I’m not afraid to use them.

    I’m currently producing a show garden for this year’s RHS Cardiff Flower Show, something I’ll tell you about next time

    Take care

    Chris

    Posted 3rd Mar 4:33pm
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  6. Chris Myers' February guest blog

    Chris Myers' February guest blog

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

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

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

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

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

    4x4 Fishing

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

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

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

     

    Chris Myers

    Posted 2nd Feb 11:25am
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