Latest Stories

  1. Two large plant supplies for Darwin Escapes

    Two large plant supplies for Darwin Escapes

    We are delighted to have recently completed two large plant supplies totalling more than £50,000 to two Darwin Escapes holiday developments in the south of England.

    Situated in Kent – known as the Garden of England – Canterbury Reach Lodge Retreat offers holidaymakers luxurious lodges set within acres of rolling countryside. The resort enjoys a tranquil setting within easy reach of Canterbury town centre.

    Our team were appointed to provided 260 trees and more than 9,000 bulbs, including snowdrops (Galanthus Nivalis) and bluebells (Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta), as well as more than 8,500 shrubs and herbaceous and 8,000 bare root hedging plants,  completed the supply, worth £27,000 in total.

    The second of the two large plant supplies was worth £25,000 and used at the Darwin Escapes Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa in Somerset, where the extensive gardens were designed to reflect the beauty of the surrounding woodland.

    The resort, nestling in the Mendip Hills, boasts an Enjoy England five-star gold rating and has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor. Discerning guests can enjoy spacious plots within this area of outstanding natural beauty.

    Our supply comprised 75 trees including rowan (Sorbus Aucuparia), field maple (Acer Campestre) and silver birch (Betula Pendula) along with almost 10,000 bare root hedging transplants of hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna), common hazel (Corylus Avellana), blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa) and sweet cherry (Prunus Avium).

    Four thousand shrubs of various sizes, from 2L to 10L) were also provided, including 310 10L New Zealand broadleaf (Grisellina Littoralis).

    We have built up many years’ experience of providing plants to clients in the holiday park sector, where another recent project undertaken for Darwin Escapes included an extensive supply of shrubs and hedging transplants for the award-winning Sandymouth Holiday Resort, as part of a substantial modernisation process.

    We also teamed up with long-standing client RPS Group plc at the recently opened Darwin Escapes Norfolk Woods Resort and Spa in Norfolk to provide products worth £50,000 for the resort, including a variety of ornamental and native plant stock.

    We are justifiably proud of completing the large plant supplies for Darwin Escapes. These resorts are noted for their luxury and high standards and we are delighted to contribute to this with our own high-quality trees and plants.

    For more information on the resorts, please go to

    Posted 26th Jun 3:43pm
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  2. Trees and plants for pollinators throughout the year

    Trees and plants for pollinators throughout the year

    This week marks National Insect Week where we educate people of all ages to about insects, but more importantly, we should be encouraging our customers and the general public the of benefits insects and pollinators.

    By taking the time to learn about how we can support pollinators for this specific week, we can educate people on how to support them throughout the year. Even though some insects hibernate, bees do surface when the temperatures are warm in autumn and early winter. Here’s our guide on the best trees and plants for pollinators for any season.

    Spring trees and plants for pollinators

    In a warmer spring, butterflies and bees start emerging from their autumn/winter hibernation and rely on pollen and nectar to survive. These trees and plants are pollinator friendly for this specific season:

    Helleborus (Christmas rose) – a great winter/spring addition to your shaded spot in a garden that will provide a much-needed source of pollen for bees and butterflies once they come out of hibernation.

    Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ – this plant is found covered in bees during early spring. Their bright yellow flowers appear from November to March and are happiest when placed in full or partial shade.

    Apple and crab apple trees – these trees rely on pollinators, without them, the trees would not bear fruit. The beautiful blossom from these varieties, such as Malus Domestica, provide a much-needed spring feast for bees.

    Salix caprea (Goat/ Pussy willow) – another one that is hugely important to providing an early source of pollen for pollinators is this tree thanks to its golden catkins that come out in March.

    Crocus – this plant offers a great source of pollen. Bumblebees are often seen not only collecting the pollen but sheltering inside the flower overnight.

    Summer plants for pollinators

    Moving into the summer season, these plant varieties are great options for pollinators to use during the warmer months of the year.

    Echinacea’s (coneflower) – a great option for bees and butterflies as they pump out as much nectar in the morning as the afternoon, unlike other plant varieties.

    Buddleia (butterfly bush) – the clue is in the name with this one as this really is covered in butterflies come June a great addition to a sunny border.

    Lavender – an obvious (and popular) one as it has been loved by pollinators for hundreds of years. Place it in a sunny, dry and well-drained position.

    Digitalis (foxgloves) – its bell-shaped flowers are very popular with bees, especially the bumblebee. Plant these in dappled shade for it to grow well.

    Geraniums – this plant has a long blooming season which makes it a great addition to the garden for bees. Choose varieties such as Geranium Johnsons blue that will flower through to September.

    Verbena – a plant that produces lots of nectar from July to October, they are loved by hoverflies, butterflies, bees and even dragonflies – a great addition to the middle or back of a border.

    Autumn trees and plants for pollinators

    Moving into the colder end of the year for a change of seasons brings another round of trees and plants that are great for pollinators in the autumn.

    Sedum Autumn Joy – this will flower from late summer into early autumn where they are frequently visited by butterflies and bees.

    Hedera (Ivy) – this is vital in helping to aid bees in the late season with its mature plants flowering in October and November.

    Anemone Honorine Jobert – an option that will not only brighten up that shaded part of your garden but a favourite of bees as it flowers from August to October.

    Heptacodium miconoides – with clusters of white flowers, this tree provides a great source of pollen from September to November when other varieties have stopped flowering.

    Posted 21st Jun 3:41pm
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  3. Nigel’s final goodbye from working on the nursery

    Nigel’s final goodbye from working on the nursery

    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.”

    Posted 20th Jun 8:30am
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  4. Working with Spa Landscaping to create a healing garden

    Working with Spa Landscaping to create a healing garden

    Working alongside Sheffield-based Spa Landscaping, our team delivered a plant supply that was used to create a new healing garden at the Royal Derby Hospital.

    Created to provide a calm and peaceful place for people to visit during their time on hospital grounds. The newly designed courtyard area was also sensitively landscaped to provide an area for people to plant a bulb in the memory of loved ones who sadly died at the hospital.

    To create the serene healing garden through landscaping, our supply included a number of plants and trees to the value of £3,000, which included hedging transplants Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn), Acer Campestre (Field Maple) and Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan). To complement this, the supply also included different shrub varieties, including Escallonia ‘Donard Radiance’, Viburnum tinus and Acer campestre and Pyrus Chanticleer trees.

    The garden was officially opened during Dying Matters Week by the chief executive of the hospital Trust, Gavin Boyle who also planted the first bulb. There will also be up to three special occasions throughout the year where the public will be able to plant a bulb in memory of their loved ones.

    Mark Swift from Spa Landscaping said: “Naturally, we’re delighted to have been chosen to create such a wonderful and peaceful area for the hospital. It’s been a joy to witness this project blossom into life and we truly hope the area offers comfort to those who need it most.”

    As always, it’s great to see the end result of projects we are involved with, especially when it has such a lovely meaning behind it. We hope the garden brings comfort to those who have lost loved ones for many years to come.


    Posted 19th Jun 4:19pm
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  5. York Cares – and so does Johnsons

    York Cares – and so does Johnsons

    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.

    Posted 9th Jun 4:04pm
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  6. Impressive landscape plant supply for Grantley Hall

    Impressive landscape plant supply for Grantley Hall

    We are proud to have recently completed an impressive landscape plant supply to Grantley Hall, a new 5-star luxury hotel in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales that is set to open next month.

    Grantley Hall, a grade II* listed property, has undergone a complete restoration that included the addition of a new large wing, housing 47 exquisite rooms and suites, a wedding and banqueting suite, private event spaces, a tranquil spa, ELITE luxury gym, 18m swimming pool and executive wellness space.

    As part of this restoration, we were appointed to supply an impressive order of plants to restore the grounds to their former glory. Our plant supply included a number of large topiaries, including Fagus (Beech) domes and Buxus (Box) balls, as well as thousands of herbaceous, shrubs and grasses for decorational borders.

    To complete the project there were several large hedging elements, including Hedera Hibernica (Ivy) screens that will be used to create partitions in the Hall’s gardens.

    The Hall was built by the Norton family in the 1680s before it passed on to the Furness family who lived there at the turn of the 20th century. Lady Jane Furness was a very keen gardener and was behind the creation of its ornamental Japanese gardens using rock from the nearby Brimham Rocks.

    The Hall then passed to Sir William Aykroyd who hosted both Queen Mary and then Dame Vera Lynn who entertained convalescing troops in WW2. The current owner, Valerie Sykes, bought the property in 2015 with the vision of restoring the building and its landscape back to its original splendour by creating a unique wellness, dining and hotel experience in the North of England.

    Working with Grantley Hall has been a real privilege, we have watched the project progress from its inception into something unique to the area. This will undoubtedly attract new discerning visitors to the North Yorkshire area, we are delighted to have played a small part in creating an inspirational first impression.

    Posted 11th Jun 4:03pm
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  7. Tree supply for Ashlea Ltd’s Windermere museum project

    Tree supply for Ashlea Ltd’s Windermere museum project

    We recently teamed up with Ashlea Ltd to work with them on a new project to supply trees and shrubs to the new Windermere Jetty museum, home to some of the world’s oldest boats.


    The museum was officially opened in April by the Prince of Wales and is home to more than 40 vessels including the SL Dolly, which is thought to be the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world, dugout boats dating from between 1200 and 1320 AD and the famous tarn boat used in Beatrix Potter’s sketches.


    Housing boats both in and outside the building, a key element of the design incorporates spectacular views of Lake Windermere for visitors to enjoy.


    From the stock grown on our Yorkshire nursery, we supplied 70 trees, from 10-12 girth size up to 14-16, a range of shrubs in P9, 1L and 2L sizes, and thousands of bareroot hedging transplants.


    Including this supply, Ashlea Ltd’s work included planting locally collected wildflower seeds and bulbs.


    It’s great to be included in another fantastic project with Ashlea Ltd where we have supplied a number of items to enhance the outside space of a local attraction.

    Posted 5th Jun 8:34am
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