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  1. Our monthly favourites - December

    Our monthly favourites - December

    Not sure whats looking good in the garden this December? Check out our favourites for this month including Helleborus, Cornus and Sarcococca.

    Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’

    Are the perfect addition to a shaded spot in your garden as they prefer full – partial shade with spikes of yellow flowers from November through to March that has a fragrant reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley on dark green holly-like leaves. Prune in spring after flowering. Available in 2L,5L and 10L pots.

    ???? Flowers: November – March

    ???? Position: Full sun – partial shade

    Helleborus ‘Cinnamon Snow’

    A compact, clump-forming perennial with saucer-shaped cream flowers that mature to a pinky-brown colour over time. A great border plant that will brighten up your garden when little else is flowering, available in a 2L pot.

    ???? Flowers: December – April

    ???? Position: Full sun – Partial shade


    Cornus ‘Flaviramea’

    White flowers in May – June with dark green leaves that redden in autumn and fall to reveal bright yellow stems in winter. An excellent choice for a moist area of the garden in a full sun – partial shade position.

    ???? Flowers: May – June

    ???? Position: Full sun – Partial shade

    Sarcococca confusa

    A sweetly scented evergreen shrub known for its pure white flowers from December – March with dark green leaves. Perfect in a deeply shaded border spot or woodland garden. To appreciate its vanilla-like fragrance plant in a moist, well-drained soil.

    ???? Flowers: December – March

    ???? Position: Partial – Deep shade

     Viburnum Tinus

    Our Viburnum tinus plants are full of bud and flowers right now… An excellent evergreen shrub with dark green leaves and clusters of small white flowers.  Ideal for brightening up a part shaded area of the garden over winter and into spring when little else is flowering.

    ???? Flowers: December – April

    ???? Position: Full sun – partial shade

    Skimmia Rubella

    Are known for their dark red flower buds that are produced in autumn and last through to winter until the flowers open in spring — an excellent plant for a patio pot or border.

    ???? Flowers: April- May

    ???? Position: Partial – Full shade

    Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’

    Dark green spiny leaves with yellow-cream margins with bright red berries that encourage birds into the garden from December – February.

    ???? Flowers: May – June

    ???? Position: Full sun – partial shade

     Cornus ‘alba sibirica’

    Are known for their bright-red stem that are revealed during mid-late autumn when the leaves fall. In early summer you will find small white flowers that appear amongst masses of dark green ovate leaves.

    ???? Flowers: May – June

    ???? Position: Full sun – Partial shade

    Posted 29th Nov 1:39pm
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  2. Celebrating our best year ever

    Celebrating our best year ever

    We are proud to be celebrating our best year ever since the company was founded almost 100 years ago.

    From a turnover of £33,000 with just ten members of staff in 1964 when John Richardson took over,  the company now employees over 110 members of staff and has seen a turnover of £14.3 million this year with almost 400 new customers and over seven million plants and trees sold.

    The company has invested significantly in both its equipment and workforce. The Newlands and Roecliffe sites have undergone considerable expansion works costing around £160,000, with a new polytunnel to hold up to 60,000 plants at any one time and a 3,200 sq metre bed to accommodate a further 180,000 plants.

    Earlier this year, we invested £70,000 in a new retail line, produced our first group catalogue in a decade and launched a new-look website.

    We also made York’s Top 100 Business List for the third year running and Won ‘Family Business of the Year’ and ‘Business of the Year‘ at the York Press Business Awards in November.

    The Richardson family receiving ‘Business of the Year’ award at the York Press Awards.

    During 2019, we have supplied stock for several high-profile residential schemes, including the development of almost 1,000 concept apartments in Salford and a new development by Redrow, Colindale Gardens in London. 

    Colindale Gardens, London

    We provided plants worth £140,000 for the multi-million-pound Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) which opened this year and includes an arena, conference halls, a multi-purpose space, hotels and more.

    The Event Complex, Aberdeen 

    Other significant plant supplies have included major infrastructure schemes along the A50 in Staffordshire and the A6 in Northern Ireland and to amenities such as the Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, Holyrood Palace and Hirst Park, Northumberland.

    We also saw our plants used in large retail developments such as Teeside Park, Thorpe Park, Crown Retail Park, Glasgow, in addition, our plants were used in a UK-wide scheme to transform Costco petrol station sites.

    Thorpe Park, Leeds

    Several five-star hotels had their gardens enhanced by our stock, including Grantley Hall near Ripon and the Dakota in Manchester, while the company provided plants for a new gin garden at the exclusive Torridon Resort in the Scottish highlands.

    Grantley Hall, Ripon

    Our plants also made it across several holiday parks including Darwin Escapes, Sandymouth in Bude, Hoburne Mews and Norfolk Woods Resort & Spa.

    Sandymouth, Bude


    The company has also donated over £15,000 worth of plants to local schools and good causes this year, including providing volunteers for the York Cares initiative, while a donation of £5,500 to Springwater, a special needs school in Harrogate which led to Johnsons being awarded a Big Build Award at this year’s Yorkshire Property Awards.

    Group managing director Graham Richardson said the company was in a strong position heading into 2020: “This year has been very successful, with 17,000 invoiced orders and the despatch of approaching seven million trees and shrubs.

    “As we look ahead to the coming year we aim to try and hold on to sales successes of this year – our budgets assume a small reduction in sales because of Brexit and the fact that our exposure to imported stock could hit us particularly hard in at least the first three months.

    “We have already committed a lot of time and money to our Brexit plans, but as well as having no crystal ball, it is impossible to have any influence over the final outcome. However, our business is in a strong position to cope with a downturn or seize on new opportunities alike, so while the coming months remain unclear, we are confident that our recent successes will be maintained and in time surpassed.”

    Posted 27th Nov 12:06pm
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  3. Two awards for Johnsons - 'Family Business of the Year' and 'Business of the Year'

    Two awards for Johnsons - 'Family Business of the Year' and 'Business of the Year'

    We are extremely proud to have won ‘Family Business of the Year’ and overall ‘Business of the Year’ as well as being shortlisted for ‘Large Business of the Year’ at the York Press Business Awards on Thursday 21st November.

    Phil Amy Commercial and Product Director from Talk Talk presents the ‘Business of the Year award to the Richardson family.

    The black-tie ceremony was held at York Racecourse and included an evening reception and three-course meal before the awards ceremony took place which was hosted by BBC presenter Colin Hazelden-Brice.

    The awards celebrate businesses from all sectors across York, North and East Yorkshire with ten categories in total including ‘New Business of the Year’, ‘Employer of the Year’, ‘Business Personality of the Year’, Exporter of the Year and ‘Employer of the Year’.

    The ‘Family Business of the Year’ award recognised the achievements of Johnsons’ three-generation family business that includes 11 Richardson family members who have various roles within the company including Chairman John Richardson, Group Managing Director Graham Richardson, Director Andrew Richardson, Director Iain Richardson, Receptionist Tracey Richardson, Accounts Assistant Janice Richardson and grandchildren Luke, Robert, Eleanor, Paul and Shaun Richardson.

     Family Business of the Year of the Year award. Derek Carter, Portakabin Chief Executive presents trophy to the Richardson family.

    The company then went on to win ‘Business of The Year’ where the company’s achievements were recognised from a turnover of just £33,000 with ten members of staff to £14.3 million with 110 full-time staff, rising to at least 140 seasonally.

    Photo of all winners at the York Press Business Award


    Chairman John Richardson paid tribute to the hard-working family ethos and team contribution while Group Managing Director Graham Richardson added: “The family is honoured to receive such a high profile recognition of its ongoing efforts and we pay tribute to John Richardson’s original foresight, ongoing stewardship and willingness to risk all that he had at the outset.”

    Posted 22nd Nov 11:07am
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  4. Plant supply to a new luxury development by Citadel Homes Ltd

    Plant supply to a new luxury development by Citadel Homes Ltd

    We recently teamed up with Willow Heart Garden Design to beautify the grounds of a new luxury development by Citadel Homes Ltd in the rural village of Talkin, Brampton, Cumbria.

    The new development by Citadel Homes Ltd comprises of 6 traditionally styled luxury detached houses and bungalows that are located between the Talkin village and the picturesque 165-acre Talkin Tarn Country Park. The park boasts mature woodland, meadows and an 18,000-year-old glacial lake which has been used for water sports for 100’s of years.

    Citadel Homes Ltd enlisted Philippa Baldwin, owner of Willow Heart Garden Design to provide the design and soft landscaping to help beautify the grounds of the new development.

    The rural location and woodland surroundings were taken into consideration when designing along with the buff stone and cream rendered walls which were complemented by the planting.

    Image of the new development from above


    Our supply included a large number of Shrubs, Trees, Herbaceous and Evergreen hedging including Buxus sempervirens which were used to give a distinct formal appearance outside the homes.

    Other evergreen varieties were used to create privacy and boundaries between each property.

    Tree varieties included Acer ‘Emerald Queen’, Betula jacquemontii and Carpinus betulus ‘Pyramidalis that were planted to add height and maturity to the landscaping.

    Shrubs were carefully selected for specific locations and included several different varieties such as Viburnum tinus, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’, Photinia fraseri ‘Red Robin’, Hebe ping. ‘Pagei’, Cotoneaster ‘Coral Beauty’, Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n Gold’ and Sarcocca confusa, known for its delightful winter scent that will be enjoyed when entering or leaving the new properties.


    Garden Designer, Philippa Baldwin said: “It’s been wonderful to work with Johnsons who offer such a personal service to every part of the process from beginning to end, nothing is a problem and I look forward to working with them again in the future.   It has also been a pleasure to work with Citadel Homes who have considered their environment when landscaping and offer their future home owners a fabulous start to their gardens”.

    This is one of many new developments we have got involved with supplying this year including Colindale Gardens, London, Chapel Wharf Apartments, Manchester and Spinning Acres, Leeds.

    Posted 20th Nov 2:23pm
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  5. A warm welcome to our 'Plant Health Specialist' Rebekah Robinson

    A warm welcome to our 'Plant Health Specialist' Rebekah Robinson

    A warm welcome to Rebekah Robinson who joins the team as a ‘Plant Health Specialist’

    We are acutely aware of our responsibilities and have taken on Rebekah as a ‘Plant Health Specialist’ to ensure that our staff are fully and appropriately trained, and our plant health system is robust.

    Here’s what she had to say about her new job role and her first few weeks at Johnson’s:

    1. Welcome to the team Rebekah, how have you found your first few weeks as our Plant Health Specialist?

    I’ve been spending a few days working with each team across the nursery and it has been great to see how the different areas of the nursery function together; sales, purchasing, incoming goods and production to name a few. Everyone has been very welcoming and it’s clear that staff know what they are doing.

    1. What will your new role include, and what are your responsibilities?

    My new role includes providing training to staff on topical plant health issues, auditing current plant health processes within the nursery, and suggesting changes if necessary. I will be responsible for updating our plant health standards which sit alongside our quality and environmental standards.

    1. What have you enjoyed the most so far?

    It’s hard to pick out a single thing, but I have particularly enjoyed working in the Cash & Carry. Working there gave me the chance to admire and inspect a wide range of stock together in one location. It’s probably a good thing I don’t have a large garden at the moment, or I would quickly spend my salary on plants!

    1. What qualifications have you gained in the industry?

    I started my career in arable agriculture and completed a PhD in agricultural microbiology before I made the switch to horticulture. I have an RHS Level 3 certificate in the principles of horticulture and my PA1 and PA6 spray licence. I’m really looking forward to gaining more practical horticultural experience whilst working at Johnsons.

    1. Where did you work before Johnsons?

    For the last five years, I worked for the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley in Surrey. I was a Senior Plant Health Scientist and my responsibilities included delivery of plant health policy for RHS shows, providing plant health training to staff and exhibitors, and diagnosing diseased plant samples in the laboratory.

    1. What are you looking forward to while working here?

    In my previous job, I was working at the customer end of the horticultural industry and I’m now looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the production end of the industry.  I am also looking forward to adding my knowledge and experience to that already possessed by the team at Johnson’s and developing our plant health systems to ensure they are robust enough to handle the future threats we may face.

    Chairman and Horticulturalist John Richardson, said: “As a company, we were delighted when Rebekah Robinson chose Johnsons of Whixley as a nursery grower with whom to spend 2 years developing her understanding of nursery stock production and national distribution.

    Rebekah has now been with us for 3 months and is spending time in several areas of the business, where she has immediately become a valued member of our team and will provide us with real support in our determination to improve our plant health management to the highest standard.”

    Posted 18th Nov 5:17pm
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  6. Recent donation helps restore Whixley Church windows to former glory

    Recent donation helps restore Whixley Church windows to former glory

    We are proud to have donated £5,000 to help fund the restoration of two stained glass windows at our local Parish Church, Whixley (that dates back to pre-Norman conquest times).

    The restoration of the two-heritage stained glassed windows that have suffered wind, sun and weather damage over 100’s of years are estimated to have cost in the region of £35,000.

    This is just part of a wider project named the ‘Whixley Heritage project’ that aims to dig deeper into the village’s history. Earliest records suggest that dwellings are thought to have been built two thousand years ago when the roman empire had extended to Britain.

    Group Managing Director of Johnsons of Whixley, Graham Richardson said: “ We have had a strong business and family relationship with Whixley Church for four generations, there are very few charitable projects that have struck such a chord, and we are delighted to have assisted the project in achieving its goals.”

    The vicar of Whixley Church, Reverend Sarah Feaster, said: “We are immensely grateful that Johnsons of Whixley were able to give a significant contribution to our Whixley Heritage Project, in particular helping to pay for the restoration of two of our magnificent Victorian windows. Johnsons have always been very generous to our various fundraising initiatives both for our church and for other charitable causes such as Christian Aid.”

    Window before

    Window after

    A dedication service will be held on Sunday 17th November to thank Johnsons, and the other contributors to the fund, a certificate of appreciation will also be circulated.

    Chairman John Richardson and Group Managing Director, Graham Richardson with the certificate of appreciation.

    In total the company has donated a whopping £15,000 worth to projects this year including a donation worth £2,500 to Springwater School, Harrogate and several plant donations to three local primary schools.

    Posted 11th Nov 4:03pm
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  7. Wholesale Xpress division teams up with award winning Garden Designer

    Wholesale Xpress division teams up with award winning Garden Designer

    Our wholesale Xpress division has teamed up with award-winning Garden Designer Sean Murray to transform the grounds of a home in Northumberland.

    Following the work, the 2.5-acre garden in Northumberland will be opened to the public as part of the National Garden Scheme.

    The house has been renovated by its new owners over the last two years, who decided they also wanted to beautify the house’s outdoor space.

    They turned to Sean, winner of the BBC RHS Great Chelsea Garden Challenge, to redesign the entire garden.

    To add a further degree of complexity, the design needed to incorporate several existing mature trees and Feng Shui recommendations.

    Garden Designer, Sean Murray said: “I was genuinely thrilled to be given complete creative control over such a large garden. It has been a pleasure to work with the owners to create what I hope is the garden of their dreams. Johnsons plants were all top-notch quality and their team were extremely professional and were keen to go the extra mile.”

    The grounds now incorporate a rose garden, formal front garden, a Zen courtyard, pondside planting, island beds and a formal jewel garden, in addition to an orchard, tennis court with pavilion, a woodland garden and a kitchen garden complete with a reclaimed greenhouse.

    Johnsons cash & carry division was asked to supply mature trees, hedges and winter flowering shrubs that offered year-round interest through leaves, stems, bark, fruits and flowers. Repetition of perennials across the garden brings a sense of cohesion and enhances the narrative between separate sections of the grounds.

    The public will be given a glimpse of the garden next year when it opens for two days as part of the National Garden Scheme.

    Luke Richardson, Cash & Carry Manager at Johnsons of Whixley said: “We are delighted to have been involved in this latest project along with the very talented Sean Murray and his team at Garden Narratives. Our supply has transformed the grounds of this stunning property that will be enjoyed by the owners and garden visitors for many years to come.”

    This is one of many garden design projects we have got involved with in recent times, including a private garden in Dunsforth designed by Lizzie Tulip and a private parterre garden designed by Helen Taylor Garden Design in Ilkley.

    Posted 6th Nov 9:14am
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  8. A budding relationship with the Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Sheffield

    A budding relationship with the Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Sheffield

    By PhD student María de Carmen Redondo Bermúdez
    Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Sheffield | Grantham Scholar

    The Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Sheffield and Johnsons of Whixley are leading organisations in the landscape scene in the Yorkshire region and beyond. Johnsons have supported the Department in a number of ways: hosting student visits, and providing high-quality plants to staff to use in their landscape projects.

    Being able to visit Johnsons and speak to staff behind the scenes at their facilities is hugely valuable for Landscape students, as it enables them to understand the ways in which plants of all types are grown and supplied to the profession, and provides insights into how to select and source plant material to meet the parameters of a particular project, which is a vitally important element of students’ learning and future practice. Moreover, plant specialists in the Department of Landscape Architecture have chosen Johnsons to supply many different types of plants for numerous projects.

    A recent example is BREATHE, a PhD research project funded by the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures that entails the construction and evaluation of a green barrier around the playground of Hunter’s Bar Infant School in Sheffield, to improve the quality of the air that children breathe by mitigating airborne pollutants from road traffic. Johnsons of Whixley have supported the school in its #GoGoGreen Campaign, donating plants and discounting prices, helping the school to acquire the plants that will totally transform the children’s play environment. The nursery has helped other community initiatives in the past, showing strong corporate social responsibility that aligns with the vision of The University of Sheffield to improve the Sheffield City Region, one of the reasons why the Department of Landscape Architecture have invited them to collaborate in this amazing grassroots project.

    PhD student María de Carmen Redondo Bermúdez with planting volunteers at Hunter’s Bar Infant School #GoGoGreen planting party

    Other important factors influencing staff choice of Johnsons of Whixley as a primary supplier include the high quality of their plants, their initiatives for the recycling of plastic containers and their strict ISO standards (9001 for Quality Management and 14001 for Environmental Management).

    Additionally, during the process of ordering plants for BREATHE we experienced the Johnsons of Whixley team as friendly, efficient and ethical, which really makes a positive difference when working with suppliers because it makes you feel supported and instils confidence and trust that they will deliver what has been agreed to a high standard. For example, the nursery team advised us on species selection, e.g. to ensure that the plant selection was child-friendly and to minimise the risk of any plant diseases developing. Their suggestions were always constructive and they were open to discussion to help us achieve the goals of the planting scheme. Also, as the #GoGoGreen Campaign intends to create environmental awareness of air pollution and related issues such as climate change, having Johnsons of Whixley so close to Sheffield helps reduce the carbon emissions and pollution that the Campaign tries to beat, especially because their vehicles conform to low emission standards.

    Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Sheffield webpage:

    PhD student María de Carmen Redondo Bermúdez profile:

    #GoGoGreen Campaign:

    Posted 5th Nov 3:09pm
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  9. Jobs to do in the garden this November

    Jobs to do in the garden this November

    Not sure what to do in the garden this November? Check out the November gardening reminders put together by our chairman and horticulturalist John Richardson.

    1) Finish picking the last of the late apples, Store in well-ventilated crates or freeze them.

    2) Collect all the canes and stakes no longer in use and stand the bottoms in preservative for a day.

    3) Service the mower or have it done professionally, clean and store garden furniture.

    4) Check alpines in case they are covered in leaves.

    5) Clear fallen leaves from lawns, ponds, gutters and natural free drainage routes.

    6) Cut back tall rose bushes and shrubs such as Buddleia to prevent winter wind-rock and damage.

    7) Check that ceramic or terracotta pots are raised on ‘feet’ off the ground to help avoid frost damage.

    8) Cover alpines with sheets of glass or cloches to reduce the effect of excessive winter rain.

    9) Take root cuttings from oriental poppies, sea hollies and verbascums. Cutting should be 8cm long, of average thickness, with a straight top cut and sloping bottom cut. Place vertically in pots of cutting compost with top level with the compost. Keep outside in a sheltered place over winter.

    10) Try to complete laying turf this month. If delayed, wait for a day when conditions are dry underfoot.

    11) If newly ordered plants have arrived but soil conditions are poor, take them out of the packaging, splay open the roots and lay them in a 15” deep trench at 45⁰, to the side of the trench, to reduce wind disturbance. Firm soil back over the roots. Plants are ok like this until growth commences.

    12) When planting roses into an existing rose bed, remove the soil from each planting hole and replace with soil from another part of the garden which has not previously grown roses.

    13) Clean the corms of gladiolus lifted last month which are now dry. Remove the old corm from the base of the new corm. Destroy any showing signs of disease. If you have saved the small cormlets attached to the base of the new corm, keep until March and plant 2” deep in a layer of sand.

    14) If conditions are not too wet, now is a good time to establish or develop the rock garden. OK to plant at this time of year but protect young alpines from excessive rain.

    15) Now is a good time to develop a new vegetable plot. Deep dig the plot and add well-rotted compost or manure. Grass can be dug in but turn it upside-down in the base of the trench and cover with soil to prevent re-growth. Leave soil surface rough to benefit from winter frosts.

    16) Wash out water butts to remove debris. Purchase additional water butts for other downpipes.

    17) On cold November nights, sit over the fire and go through next years seed and bulb catalogues and read those magazine articles which you had no time for in the summer.

    Posted 4th Nov 4:17pm
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