Latest Stories

  1. Working with Make it Wild to plant the trees of the future

    Working with Make it Wild to plant the trees of the future

    Another local, Family Business, Make it Wild have been working with us and other nurseries to help plant the trees of the future, having pledged to plant 100,000 trees this decade, to form part of the ‘Northern Forest’.

    The North of England has significantly fewer trees than other parts of the country, with just 7.6% of the region covered in woodland. The Woodland Trust is working with several partners including Make it Wild to plant over 50 million trees across northern sites and cities including Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Hull and Sheffield which will help to form the ‘Northern Forest’.

    Since the beginning, Make it Wild have planted a whopping 36,000 trees across their land with Yorkshire suppliers including Johnsons of Whixley. Their mission is to support biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

    The eco-friendly family that run Make it Wild set about their mission nearly ten years ago when they purchased 25 acres of land on the banks of the River Nidd. The land, which is adjacent to the village of Kirk Hammerton, located on the outskirts of York, is now known as Sylvan Nature Reserve. The project showed them how good land management could create a haven for wildlife and humans with 18,000 British, deciduous trees planted along with 8 acres of wild-flower meadow.

    Following on from their successes at Sylvan Nature Reserve, the Neave family purchased a further 111 acres just outside Summerbridge near Harrogate, that has formed ‘Bank Woods’, a far larger habitat project incorporating ancient woodland.

    Make it Wild encourage people to take responsibility for their carbon footprint. They offer individuals and businesses the possibility of offsetting their own carbon footprint through planting trees. This proved very popular as a Christmas gift, and also with businesses wanting to improve their ‘green’ credentials.

    They plant trees and promote the purchase of eco-friendly, plastic-free and zero waste products on their website, such as Bee Wax Food Wraps and Bamboo Cotton Buds. Furthermore, they educate people about the benefits of protecting natural environments.

    Tree varieties supplied and planted over the last nine years include Betula pendula, Prunus avium, Prunus padus, Sorbus Aucuparia, Acer campestre, Malus Sylvestris, Corylus avellana, Crataegus monogyna, Prunus spinosa, Viburnum opulus, Rosa canina and Ilex aquifolium.

    These tree-planting projects aim to help tackle climate change, reduce the risk of flooding, clean the air and improve health and wellbeing.

    Founder of Make it Wild, Christopher Neave said: “Johnsons of Whixley have been wonderful partners in our mission to help nature. It has been great having such a helpful business so close to us. They have always been able to assist us with good advice and high-quality trees.”

    Posted 29th Apr 2:57pm
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  2. Meet our new Transport and Logistics Manager, Hannah Smith

    Meet our new Transport and Logistics Manager, Hannah Smith

    We recently welcomed a new face to our office, Hannah Smith who joined our team as a Transport and Logistics Manager. Here’s what she had to say about her new role at Johnsons of Whixley.

    1. What does your new role as a transport and logistics manager involve?

    Managing the goods coming in and out of the business ensuring that all sales order stock is met by the incoming purchase stock.

    2. How have you found your first few weeks?

    Challenging but I am certainly looking forward to the future

    3. What did your last job involve?

    I have always worked in transport but my last job was transporting race horse throughout Europe for all occasions sales, racing, vets, breeding, yard moves.

    4. What skills has it helped you develop for this job?

    Multi-tasking, patients & straight-talking

    5. What are you looking forward to in your new role?

    Developing the transport side of the business

    6. Have Johnsons supported you well with your new role?

    Amazingly- everyone has been really supportive!

    7. How will you be celebrating your new role?

    A bottle of wine by the fire


    Posted 21st Apr 10:50am
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  3. Plant supply to help beautify medieval castle grounds after restoration works

    Plant supply to help beautify medieval castle grounds after restoration works

    We have teamed up with our long-standing customer, Ashlea Ltd to beautify the grounds of Lancaster Castle, following multimillion-pound conservation works.

    The scheme has seen 5,000 sq ft restored to provide a new courtyard, café, gallery space, teaching suite and ticket office.

    The building dates back to the 11th century and has a varied history, having been used as a defensive fortress, a royal castle, a crown court, a civil court and even a prison.

    The medieval castle forms part of the Duchy of Lancaster, a royal inheritance that began 750 years ago. The castle itself has had many royal visitors over the years including King John, Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Queen Victoria and, in 2015, the      Queen, who is the current Duke of Lancaster.

    In the last 100 years, the castle has been used by the county council to train police officers. It was a prison office from 1954 until 2011 before it was decommissioned by the Ministry of Justice and returned to the Duchy of Lancaster. Since then, the focus has been to preserve and restore the historic site and to open the castle to the public.

    Over the last seven years, the duchy team has worked closely with heritage architects, archaeological specialists and structural engineers to complete this project.

    Ashlea Ltd’s groundworks for the project included soiling to the new planters, tree pit construction, drainage and laying of artificial grass and trees, as well as planting hundreds of shrubs and herbaceous plants, provided by Johnsons of Whixley.

    Our plant supply comprised of hundreds of shrubs and herbaceous plants with varieties such as Buxus ‘suffruiticosa’, Euonymus fortunei, Hebe rakaiensis, Helleborous Anna’s Red’ and Heuchera Ruby Bells included in the project.

    The supply also included four large Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’ trees with a girth of 30-35ins, in 100L pots.

    Ashlea Ltd’s contracts director, Wayne Dand, said: “We are delighted, as are the clients, with the outcome of the scheme, especially the excellent standard of trees and shrubs. Logistically the project was complicated to deliver, due to restricted access through the castles main gate.”

    This is one of many projects we have supplied through Ashlea Ltd, including Monks Cross Retail Park and Windermere Boat Museum.

    Posted 21st Apr 9:40am
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  4. Thank you for all your support and orders

    Thank you for all your support and orders

    On March 23rd 2020 the government announced comprehensive lockdown restrictions for the entire nation. At a stroke, many businesses simply ceased to trade and have remained in a state of suspended animation ever since.

     At Johnsons, our approach has been driven by the need to ensure both the personal safety and job security of all staff.

    Staff numbers have reduced by 40%, and this conversely has created a uniquely well-spaced and naturally ventilated working environment with 70 staff spread out over five sites totalling 150 acres.

     During this period we have still dispatched 230,000 plants(Mar 23 to Apr 16th) fulfilling orders into all sectors in both an ethical and safe manner.

    Our remote workers are dialling in daily and continue to answer enquiries, fill in quotes, pay suppliers, pay workers, and ask for payment from customers. They attend regular zoom meetings, organise incoming goods and our limited dispatch. Some of our colleagues are isolating at home or are furloughed due to the slow down in productive work – the contribution and support they are making is perhaps not as obvious but nevertheless remains essential.

     We still need to grow the plants that we will sell in recovery – our potting machines are busy churning out new crops, and our production teams are frantically tending the plants that are vigorously growing in the sunshine on the nursery to ensure they remain saleable for as long as possible.

     We thank all our customers and colleagues for your continued support; we remain open for business and capable of scaling up overnight when at long last the restrictions ease. Should you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to ask.

    Posted 16th Apr 5:29pm
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  5. Our monthly favourites - April 2020

    Our monthly favourites - April 2020

    Wanting to add a splash of colour to the garden this April? Check out this month’s highlights from Cytisus ‘Allgold’ to Clematis ‘Early Sensation’, there is something for every garden.

    1. Cytisus x praecox ‘Allgold’

    A great deciduous shrub with arching sprays of bright yellow flowers from April – June. A fantastic addition to a mixed border.

    ???? Flowers: April – June

    ???? Position: Full sun

    2. Clematis ‘Early Sensation’

    A great evergreen that is happiest in full sun-partial shade, use a trellis or wire support to grow up a fence or wall.

    ???? Flowers: March – April

    ???? Position: Full sun – partial shade

    3. Vinca minor

    A great low growing ground cover plant with pale blue flowers and lance-shaped dark green leaves. It is excellent at suppressing weeds and would make a great addition to the front of a border. It generally flowers from April – May.

    ???? Flowers: March – September

    ???? Position: Full sun or partial shade

    4. Spirea arguta

    Small delicate white flowers on arching stems have started to appear on our Spirea arguta plants this month. A hardy deciduous shrub perfect as a freestanding shrub or as a hedge. Prune immediately after flowering to guarantee abundant shows year after year.

    ???? Flowers: March-May

    ???? Position: Full sun

    5. 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: March – April

    ????Position:  Sun – Partial shade

    6.Halimium libanotis

    A small evergreen shrub, with small glossy, green leaves and primrose-like yellow flowers from April – June. Great at the front of a border, rock garden or in a container.

    ???? Flowers:  April – June

    ☀️ Position: Sun

    7. Ribes ‘King Edward VII’

    Are full of clusters of deep pink, tubular flowers right now that will be followed by blue-black fruit. It would make a great informal, flowering hedge or work well at the back of a border.

    ???? Flowers: April – May

    ☀️ Position:  Full sun

    8. Primula veris

    Primula veris, a semi-evergreen perennial is in full flower right now, a great addition to a wildflower meadow flowering from April till the end of May.

    ???? Flowers: April – May

    ☀️ Position:  Full sun – partial shade

    Posted 16th Apr 10:17am
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  6. Plant donation to our local community during isolation

    Plant donation to our local community during isolation

    We have donated hundreds of plants to surrounding local communities during isolation.

    A range of seasonal garden plants have been distributed to villages situated close to our headquarters in Kirk Hammerton, North Yorkshire.

    Residents picked up the plants from collection points – while observing social distancing and as part of their daily exercise.

    Our nursery supplies three channels to market including the commercial sector, garden centres and via our trade counter. We are particularly concerned about the potential waste of perfectly good plants due to the current lockdown. Like all fresh produce, garden plants have a shelf life before they are past their best or require significant cost investment to hold them over.

    The crisis could not have come at a worse time for us and other growers, who are usually at their busiest around the Easter period. It is estimated, that nationally,  the current surplus stock is worth more than £250m!  Rather than allow some of our plants to be wasted, we chose to donate some of our Garden Centre quality stock to boost the spirits of local communities’ and help with mental wellbeing for those in lockdown.

    Throughout this week, staff have delivered various varieties to different locations for people to take home. Villages to benefit include, Whixley, Roecliffe, Marton Cum Grafton, Kirk Hammerton, Cattal, Little Ouseburn and Nun Monkton.

    Plants donated include cheerful flowering varieties such as include Viburnum tinus , Vinca minor and Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’. The colourful Photinia fraseri’ Red Robin, Pieris’ Forest Flame’ and Bergenia Harzkristall are also included, along with geranium and Californian lilac – all perfect for spring and summer planting.

    We regularly make donations to causes within the community, including £5,000 to help restore the stained glass windows at Whixley church, and plants worth thousands of pounds to a number of schools in the area, including a donation worth more than £5,000 to Springwater, a special needs school in Harrogate.

    Eleanor Richardson, Johnsons marketing manager, said: “We thought it would be nice to share some springtime colour with our local villagers, who might be feeling anxious or pent up at this difficult time.

    “Our business is approaching its centenary in 2021, and we value our long-standing relationship with each of the local villages who have always been a rich source of key employees”.

    “There are clear links between gardening and mental wellbeing. Hopefully, these donations will help people to get through this situation, giving them a reason to be outdoors in the fresh air, caring for their plants.”

    Posted 8th Apr 12:10pm
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  7. Creating a rainbow of plants for hope with Garden Designer Helen Taylor

    Creating a rainbow of plants for hope with Garden Designer Helen Taylor

    We have created a rainbow display of small shrubs, grasses and perennials in a range of foliage and flower colours as a symbol of hope for all those affected by coronavirus.

    Initial planting design plan of the rainbow by Helen Taylor Garden Design.

    We were delighted when our customer Helen Taylor Garden Design approached us with the idea after we were targeted by vandals last week, leaving us with serious damage to our plant productions beds.

    We have had to bear these losses on top of the very grave situation the horticultural industry finds itself in now that gardens centres have been closed due to the coronavirus restrictions on non-essential retail.

    Eleanor Richardson, Johnson’s of Whixley and garden designer Helen Taylor putting the final touches to the planted rainbow at Johnson’s Wholesale Cash and Carry.

    All suppliers for ornamental horticulture are likely to encounter huge financial losses as they have no outlet for their plants. The HTA Horticultural Trade Association believe that millions of plants could be binned in the coming weeks.

    Because of this Johnsons have teamed up with Hedges Direct to create a garden rescue pack pallet of plants to those who are self-isolating and want to get out in the garden. Read more here 

    Group Managing Director, Graham Richardson said: “We welcomed Helen’s idea to put out a symbol of hope, particularly to our own horticultural industry and as an opportunity to do something positive. In these testing times we hope it will lift our staff and trade customers spirits as they see the large rainbow display with its promise of sunshine after the storm.

    A rainbow of hope from above taken by a drone camera. 

    Garden Designer, Helen Taylor, said: “I’d been noticing all the lovely rainbow pictures drawn by children in windows and I realised I could design and create a rainbow made from plants which would be a living piece of art. I use Johnson’s of Whixley for sourcing tree, shrubs, perennials for gardens we design and wanted to help the nursery in their current difficulties and to send a symbol of hope to out to everyone.

    The rainbow has been made of a series of arcs of contrasting plants to represent the colours of the rainbow:

    Reds: Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’, Berberis thunbergii’ Harlequin’ and Photinia ‘Little Red Robin’.

    Oranges: Physocarpus’ Amber Queen’, Berberis thunbergii ‘Admiration’, Carex comans ‘Bronze Form’, Spiraea japonica ‘Firelight’.

    Yellows: Spiraea japonica ‘Goldmount’ and Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald and Gold’.

    Greens: Hemerocallis Stella d’Or.

    Blues: Hebe Blue Star’, Lavandula in variety and Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’.

    Indigo: Anemone ‘ Harmony Blue’.

    Violet: Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shade’.

    Garden Designer Helen Taylor with the rainbow. 

    Posted 3rd Apr 11:04am
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  8. Teaming up with Hedges Direct to deliver garden plants to your door

    Teaming up with Hedges Direct to deliver garden plants to your door

    We are excited to announce that we are teaming up with our customer Hedges Direct to beat the crisis with garden rescue packs delivered directly to your Garden.

    At present, garden centres everywhere are closed, which means that UK nurseries now have a surplus of garden centre stock and no available outlet.

    Hedges Direct has kindly offered to support us to ensure surplus stock can find a home and garden.

    The mixed shrub pallet deal of garden centre plants will be available as two different options.


    Option 1: 50 x 2L shrubs – made up of the following plants :

    Aucuba Japonica (‘Crotonifolia’ and ‘Rozannie’)
    Berberis Thunbergii (Atropupurea Nana’ and ‘Golden Dream’)
    Buddleja (‘Buzz Sky Blue’ and ‘Buzz Ivory’)
    Ceanothus (‘Blue Sapphire’, ‘Italian Skies’ and Caeanothus thyrsiflorous repens)
    Choisya ternata and Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’
    Convolvulus cnoreum
    Coprosma (‘Inferno’, ‘Pacific Dawn’ and ‘Pina Colada)
    Cytisus ‘Lena’ and Cytisus praecox ‘Allgold’
    Escallonia (‘Apple Blossom’,’ Gold Carpe’t, ‘Glowing Embers’ and ‘Iveyi)
    Euonymus fortunei ‘Blondy’
    Euonymous japonicas (‘Microphyllus Albovariegatus’ and ‘Microphyllus Aurea’)
    Genista ‘lydia’
    Halimium libanotis
    Hebe (‘Blue Star’, ‘Champion’, ‘High Voltage’, Purple Shamrock’)
    Lavatera ‘Baby Barnsley’ and Lavatera olb. ‘Rosea’)
    Photinia (‘Carre Rouge’, ‘Red Robin’, ‘Little Red Robin’ and ‘Pink Marble’)
    Pittosporum tenuifolium (‘Gold Star and ‘Tom Thumb’)
    Spirea arguta, Spirea japonica ‘Firelight’ and ‘Golden Princess and Spiraea nipp. ‘Snowmound’
    Vinca minor (Atropurpurea and ‘Ralph Shugert’)
    Weigela florida (‘Minor Black and ‘Kosteri Variegata’)

    Option 2: 25 x 5L specimen shrubs – made up of the following plants:

    Aucuba Japonica ‘Crotonifolia’
    Berberis thunbergii ‘Harlequin’
    Ceanothus ‘Skylark and Caeanothus thyrsiflorous repens
    Choisya ‘White Dazzler’
    Convolvulus Cnoreum
    Coprosma (Ignite and Pacific Dawn)
    Cotnius cogg. ‘Royal Purple and Cotinus dummeri ‘Grace’
    Crinodendron hookerianum
    Euonymus jap. ‘Greenspire’
    Euonymus jap. ‘Marieke’
    Euonymus jap. ‘Paloma Blanca’
    Euonymus ‘Kathy’
    Euonymus ‘Pierrolino’
    Halimium libanotis
    Hydrangea pan. ‘Limelight’ and Hydrangea pan. ‘Silver Dollar’
    Leucothoe axil. ‘Curly Red’
    Nandina domestica ‘Gulf Stream’
    Osmanthus x burkwoodii
    Photinia fras. (‘Pink Marble’, ‘Carre Rouge’ and ‘Little Red Robin’)
    Pittosporum ‘Golf Ball’ and Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Gold Star’)
    Skimmia x con. ‘Kew Green’
    Viburnum tinus

    Once selected, delivery will be arranged straight to your garden.

    Posted 2nd Apr 3:30pm
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  9. Johnsons ask for Government support for Ornamental Horticulture during COVID-19

    Johnsons ask for Government support for Ornamental Horticulture during COVID-19

    Johnsons ask for Government support for Ornamental Horticulture during COVID-19

    Our Group Managing Director, Graham Richardson has sent out a template letter calling for government support for ornamental horticulture during the coronavirus crisis.

    Pre-approval for consideration was received with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Defra secretary of state George Eustice having been informed.

    Group Managing Director Graham Richardson said: “This is the basis of a letter sent to our MP seeking support for the industry. We would urge all growers to do something similar.”

    “I promised to brief you on the emerging impact of the current crisis on commercial ornamental horticulture. You have perhaps seen relevant footage on BBC national news this morning?

    “Growers have to commit way in advance to ensure the availability of garden and landscape plants at windows of seasonal demand. Easter, in particular, is a focal point for the general public who emerge from winter and turn their attention to their spring garden.

    Landscape | Johnsons of Whixley Commercial

    “The ongoing crisis and the necessary lockdown has withdrawn that demand at a stroke resulting in an industry-wide surplus of at least £250m. Many of these crops have a limited window for sale, have limited shelf life, incur significant cost to maintain and then become a long term dilemma as the carried over surplus buts up against subsequent crops of the same item that have had to be produced to meet forecast future demand.

    “Without being alarmist, this is simply the most significant issue that our industry has ever faced.

    “We believe there is a strong case for government support that will provide financial backing in compensation for wasted stock and for future stock that will waste as a result of postponed contracts, orders and insufficient longevity in the allocated stock. ‘Support is required now and should be capable of providing assistance to growers who will have no option but to waste significant tranches of saleable stock both now and in the coming months.’

    “I understand that a business case was made to the treasury via the UK Farming Round Table/NFU and HTA on Friday 27 March and that pre-approval for consideration was received. I am also told that Rishi Sunak and George Eustice have been informed.

    “In the longer term, our industry will be called on to grow the trees to assist in our meeting an ambitious carbon reduction target, putting it bluntly the industry has to exist in order to do this!

    “I would be very grateful for your support and a direct plea to any appropriate instruments of government, including DEFRA and the Treasury.”

    We have also created a petition asking for the Governments support for Ornamental Horticulture during COVID-19.

    We are asking everyone in the horticultural industry to get on board and sign it, with over 100,000 signatures needed for a discussion to be formed in parliament.

    The link can be found here:

    The industry is facing a lot of pressure and we urge trade customers to continue sending quotes, orders and calls as the business operates with skeleton staff.

    To make matters worse our main 50-acre site was broken into last Thursday, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to plants and existing boundaries.

    The police are still investigating this incident and are asking people with information to contact them on 101.

    Posted 1st Apr 11:30am
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  10. April 2020 Gardening Reminders

    April 2020 Gardening Reminders

    Gardening reminders for April 2020

    Check out our latest gardening reminders for April 2020 put together by chairman and horticulturalist John Richardson.

    1) Prune early flowering shrubs after flowering is over.

    2) Prune foliage shrubs if cut foliage will be required later in the year.

    3) Mulch shrubs and fruit bushes when the weather begins to warm up, but not deeply into the centre of the shrub.

    4) Continue to divide herbaceous plants if necessary.

    5) Plant evergreen shrubs, soak root-balls before planting and water in after planting.

    6) If dry spells continue, remember to water those trees and shrubs that have been planted since Christmas.

    7) Cut off dead hydrangea flowers down to the top 2 strongest growth buds.

    8) Plants growing on the edge of ponds can be lifted, divided, and replanted as required. Remove pond heaters or other frost preventive objects.

    9) Pick off the flower heads from spent daffodils, tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs which have gone over, and give a top-dressing of general fertilizer.

    10) In mild weather slugs and snails may well begin to eat the shoots of newly growing perennials. Use environmentally approved slug pellets as a control.

    11) Dahlias may begin to sprout in mild conditions under glass, but don’t plant out until frost is past. Consider taking cutting of the first shoots.

    12) Towards the end of the month collect woody twigs to use as supports for perennials before they get too long and straggly.

    13) Apply residual weedkillers to gravelled driveways and footpaths. Be careful to ensure that the application is confined to the treated area and not surroundings.

    14) Begin mowing the lawn weekly, but with the blades set quite high until the rate of growth increases. Dig out those perennial weeds that suddenly appear.

    15) Apply a high Nitrogen lawn fertilizer, and water-in if conditions are dry, in order to prevent scorch to the grass.

    16) Check stakes and ties of trees planted in the last 2 years, stakes should still be sound and the tree ties not strangling the tree.

    17) Remove raspberry suckers coming up away from the row. Thin new canes to 15cm apart on the support wires.

    Interested in further advise or solutions? visit our ‘solutions’ section here

    Posted 8th Apr 10:15am
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