Latest Stories

  1. Plants used for multi-million-pound renovation at The Springs Resort & Golf Club

    Plants used for multi-million-pound renovation at The Springs Resort & Golf Club

    We recently supplied plants to the value of over £135,000 for a multi-million-pound renovation at the 133-acre The Springs Resort & Golf Club near Wallingford in Oxfordshire.

    The renovation works started in the autumn of 2020 at the resort that boasts a beautifully restored 19th-century manor house with hotel rooms, an 18-hole, par-72 golf course, a clubhouse with restaurant and bar, a Hydrotherapy pool and spa and a collection of luxury lodges all located just 30 minutes from Oxford City Centre.

    Johnsons were appointed by Darwin Escapes which operates the resort to supply thousands of quality plants as part of the renovation of the multi-million-pound resort and golf club.

    The nursery has been Darwin Escapes’ principal plant supplier for almost ten years supplying their holiday resorts including Sandymouth Holiday Resort, Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat, Canterbury Reach Lodge Retreat, Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon Lodge Retreat.

    The plants supplied by Johnsons have been used to enhance the grounds of the Tudor-style hotel building, clubhouse, golf course and spa grounds and most recently used to landscape the modern lodges which include private outdoor areas with hot tubs and landscaped decking, some of which have stunning views across the millpond.

    Plants Johnsons supplied to the project include a large number of hedging, shrubs, herbaceous, trees and grasses with varieties including mixed native hedging elements, Choisya, Geraniums, Heleniums, Hebes, Hydrangeas, Heucheras, Ilex, Lavender, Magnolia, Prunus, Stipa, Taxus, Viburnum and more.

    Eleanor Richardson, Marketing Manager at Johnsons, said: “We are pleased to be working with Darwin Escapes once again, and are honoured to be their principal plant supplier. It’s great to see our plants adding the finishing touches to this ambitious project, the grounds look fantastic and will certainly entice people to stay.

    We hope the plants are enjoyed by resort guests, golfers, staff and of course wildlife for many years to come. “

    Posted 24th Aug 10:58am
    Read more >

  2. September Gardening Reminders 2022

    September Gardening Reminders 2022

    September is generally noticeably cooler than August, and the nights are now drawing in, but there’s plenty to be doing in the garden this month, including planting bulbs, scarifying and aerating lawns and taking cuttings from evergreen shrubs. Check out our full list of hints and tips below put together by our chairman and horticulturist John Richardson.

    Keep dead-heading the best flowering plants to encourage new flowers and stop them from setting seed.

    Crocosmias form large mounds of roots and corms over a few years; try separating them with a fork, pulling them apart, or removing the soil and untangling them with the help of a hosepipe jet.

    The lawn will benefit from being scarified and aerated; remove moss. Add sharp sand or compost and re-seed worn patches. Apply autumn fertilizer at 2 oz. per sq. yd and apply a weed control.

    During rainy weather, transplant Rhododendrons and Azaleas, which need moving and plant new bushes. Heel in plants newly arrived if the ground is not yet fully prepared but ensure that root balls are kept moist.

    By the end of the month, slightly reduce the watering and feeding of house plants, and ensure they have plenty of light. Reduce the amount of water given to cacti.

    Take cuttings of evergreen shrubs, geraniums and hydrangeas. Check that electrical installations are in good order and insulation is undamaged.

    Prune weeping standard roses, which are summer flowering climbers and ramblers grown on standard rose briar stems, by removing the stems which have flowered during the year, and leave the new main stems to flower next year.

    Purchase sweet pea seeds for sowing next month. Include a few of the old-fashioned varieties as these will provide fragrance.

    Prepare sites for any new hedges to be planted over the winter months. Dig the hedge strip 45cm wide on either side of the centre line of the hedge. Skim off any turf or weed growth, burying it upside-down in the bottom of the trench. Remove any perennial weeds. Plant evergreen hedges until mid-October.

    Prepare pots and bowls of bulbs to flower from Christmas to Easter. Use bulb fibre in containers with drainage holes and stand the container on a suitable saucer. Containers without a drainage hole can be used but extreme care must be taken not to over-water the pot.

    Sow annuals such as clarkia, nemesia, antirrhinums, calendulas, and cornflowers in a cool greenhouse for a colourful display in spring and early summer. Sow in John Innes seed compost and prick out in pots of JI No 1 potting compost as soon as large enough to handle.

    Keep dead-heading the best flowering plants to encourage new flowers and stop them from setting seed.

    Cut off and burn any Iris leaves which have developed brown leaf spot disease since flowering.



    Posted 30th Aug 9:34am
    Read more >

  3. Getting to know the new starters at Cattal

    Getting to know the new starters at Cattal

    We recently welcomed a number of new starters to our Cattal site, so we thought it would be nice to find out more about them; see what they have to say below:

    Mark Whiting 

    1) Tell us one thing that has made your JOW experience so far enjoyable:

    The friendliness of everyone at Cattal.

    2) What does a typical working day look like for you?

    I start at 7 am to help prepare the tractors for the day and get them checked over. Then generally, I’m on the potting machine, which I enjoy and have been learning more lately about the machine works.

    3) Any memorable moments from your time at JOW so far?

    Fish and chip Friday

    4) What would we find in your packed lunch box?

    A chicken salad wrap, a bag of crisps, an apple, a banana and a kit kat (the best)

    5) Are you a morning or a night person?

    An early morning beats a late finish.

    6) Tell us one item you couldn’t live without:

    My record player

    7) Who is your celebrity hero?

    David Bowie saw him three times live – amazing!

    8) Have any hobbies?

    Nothing specific, but I like walking and oriental cooking.

    Jack Sibley

    1. Where did you work prior to JOW?

    I previously worked at the Railway Museum in York as part of their front-of-house team.

    2. What does your role involve?

    It involves various tasks in the potting shed, cultural teams and lifting orders for customers.

    3. What do you like most about your role?

    I like the variety my role offers me each day is different, and I am learning new skills all the time.

    4. What is an interesting fact about you that nobody at work knows: I have met three members of The Royal Family.

    5. If you could travel anywhere for a holiday, where would it be and why?

    I would travel to New Zealand on holiday when the British & Irish Lions were on tour – I am a massive rugby fan, and it is a part of the world I’ve always wanted to visit.

    6. What is your favourite type of cuisine? Mexican!!!

    7. What was your favourite band growing up?

    My Chemical Romance

    8. What hobbies do you have outside of work?

    I like being outdoors, walking my dog, going camping and walking up mountains! I also like going out with friends and going to music festivals.

    9. What is your biggest pet peeve?

    People who don’t indicate!!!

    Chris Edgar

    1) What is your favourite thing about your job?

    I enjoy seeing the plants and have personally done work earlier in the year on specific varieties and have then seen the plants grow into nice-looking plants. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

    2) What has the biggest challenge been since joining JOW?

    I found driving the tractors quite intimidating before I learned, but now it’s one of my favourite things to do at work!

    3) What was your dream profession growing up?

    As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut but was disappointed to learn that I was too tall.

    4) When you’re not at work, what are your passions?

    I like to be outdoors, for example, hiking or caving in the Yorkshire Dales.

    5) What are you most grateful for in life?

    Having time to enjoy my hobbies and spend time with friends.

    6) What is your favourite thing to do locally?

    Visiting historical sites in York

    7) What’s your favourite plant?

    Hard to choose, but I’d say Lupins.

    8)If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

    Christmas Dinner because at least there are lots of sides for a variety.

    Anna Sibley

    1. How have you found your first few months at JOW, and what have you enjoyed most?

    I have enjoyed cultural and lifting – 5-star experience!

    2. Tell us two things you have learned since starting at JOW:

    Trellising and driving tractors.

    3. Favourite plant variety since starting: Lupinus

    4. Tell us a random fact about yourself: I’ve memorised the majority of bird song in the UK!

    5. What is one thing on the very top of your bucket list? Visit Yosemite National Park.

    6.Are you a morning person or a night person?

    I’m an afternoon person.

    7. What’s the greatest TV show ever made?

    Limmy’s Show.

    8. If you could live in any other country, where would you live? Italy

    9. What is your idea of fun? Camping and Bowls.

    Posted 9th Aug 3:36pm
    Read more >

  4. August Gardening Reminders 2022

    August Gardening Reminders 2022

    Summer isn’t over yet… August is usually a hot one, and there’s plenty to be doing in the garden this month, from watering to trimming lavenders and deadheading flowering plants to encourage new flowers. Read our full list of reminders below put together by our chairman and horticulturist John Richardson:

    Trim Lavenders after flowers go over, but don’t cut into last season’s wood as this may prevent future re-growth.

    Maintain the water level in ponds in order to prevent stress to fish, plants, and other pond life.

    Collect and dispose of fallen apples showing signs of Brown Rot, do not compost them.

    Keep dead-heading the best flowering plants to encourage new flowers and stop them from setting seeds. Apply a liquid feed as plants will require added nutrition to counter the dry weather and heavy watering.

    Always use really sharp secateurs when cutting roses or pruning any plant. Weed between alpines and top up the surface with grit or gravel.  Take cuttings of Aubretia, dwarf  Helianthemums etc., and root them in a warm propagator.

    Do not cut back paeonies which have flowered, just remove dead flower heads, as they need to die back naturally as a part of the ripening process.

    Towards the end of the month, cut down the fruited canes of raspberries to ground level, and tie in the young canes which will carry the fruits of next year’s harvest.

    Watch out for pests and diseases, warm, dry weather encourages mildew, and aphids can rapidly increase in numbers.  Treat with specific garden chemicals.

    Damp down greenhouse floors to maintain humidity, and don’t forget to open the vents to improve air circulation.  Best to water early morning or late evening, and not in the heat of the sun. Close doors at night by the end of the month as conditions become cooler but be sure to open up again the following morning!

    Collect the seed of plants you wish to regenerate again next year. Place a brown paper bag over the seed head and shake out contents as they become free; save the seed in the fridge and sow next spring.

    Take cuttings of shrubs, heathers, hydrangeas, and fuchsias.

    Container watering will still be a high priority, placing the container in a saucer-shaped dish will be a   great help in ensuring that the majority of water you apply remains available to the plant.

    Give a final trim to fast growing hedges, and don’t forget to remove the weeds from under hedges.

    Finish pruning stone fruits such as cherries and plums by mid-month. Choose a dry day in order to prevent disease entry through the wound.  If you have peaches or apricots under protection, prune them now to prevent silver leaf disease.

    Best to leave laying or sowing a new lawn until September when the weather is cooler and there is probably more moisture in the ground.

    Propagate Rhododendrons by layering a low growing shoot into some prepared compost beneath the bush. The shoot should be non-flowering, de-leafed in the wound area, and either twisted or nicked with a knife to produce a tongue and pinned down into the prepared mound of soil. Cover the whole area with an inch of compost and water thoroughly. Rhodo layers can take 2 years to produce a good new plant.

    Remove rose blooms as they fade. Cut roses for display as short as possible. Do not feed in the autumn as soft growth would be encouraged, which could not mature before winter.

    Posted 4th Aug 10:34am
    Read more >

  5. The Growers Choice: Plants for butterflies

    The Growers Choice: Plants for butterflies

    In recognition of The Big Butterfly Count, a UK-wide citizen science survey that runs for three weeks each summer, we have put together a list of plants for butterflies to help encourage them into your next planting plan.

    Echinacea varieties such as Magnus 

    Commonly known as coneflowers, Echinaceas are a firm favourite of butterflies and bees. Butterfly species, including Monarchs and Red admirals, particularly love Echinaceas.

    Echinaceas have daisy-like flowers with prominent orange centres and generally flower from mid-late summer and are available in a range of colours from pink, white and even yellow.

    ????Position: Full sun

    ???? Flowers: July – September

    ???? Height: Up to 75cm

    ???? Soil: Most soil types, except dry or boggy conditions

    Butterflies that particularly love this plant variety: Red Admiral butterflies and Peacock Butterflies

    Buddleia varieties such as ‘Pink Delight.’ 

    Commonly known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’ and colonising railway sidings, Buddleias make a great addition to a sunny border with attractive bright foliage that will attract butterflies and other insects.

    ????Position: Full sun – partial shade

    ???? Flowers: July – September

    ???? Height: 30cm-280cm depending on the variety

    ???? Soil: Fertile, well-drained soil

    Butterflies that particularly love this plant variety: Red Admiral butterflies and Peacock Butterflies

    Verbena varieties such as bonariensis 

    Tight clusters of lilac-purple flowers appear on tall flower stems from June to September. This plant will help encourage bees and butterflies into your project right through to autumn. A great addition to any area of a border due to its transparent shape.

    ????Position: Full sun

    ???? Flowers: June – September

    ???? Height: Up to 150+cm

    ???? Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained soil

    Butterflies that particularly love this plant variety: Red Admiral Butterflies, Painted Lady Butterflies

    Helenium varieties such as ”Moerheim Beauty’

    Blooms are available in shades of yellows, oranges and reds from mid-late summer. They look great in a mixed border and look great amongst grasses and other perennials, and are loved by bees and butterflies.

    ????Position: Full sun

    ???? Flowers: June – August

    ???? Height: 60cm +

    ???? Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained soil

    Butterflies that particularly love this plant variety: Red Admiral Butterflies, Peacock Butterflies

    Scabiosa varieties such as ‘Butterfly Blue’

    Are full of nectar-rich flowers from June – August and looks great in cottage gardens or in a wildflower mix. Plant in a sunny position to encourage butterflies and other pollinators to feast.

    ????Position: Full sun

    ???? Flowers: June – August

    ???? Height: 0.5m +

    ???? Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained, alkaline soil


    Lavender varieties such as ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’ 

    Lavender will add fragrance and colour to your garden projects and will draw in the pollinators. A great addition to a path, or border. Place in a sunny, well-drained position for best results.

    ???? Flowers: July – September

    ????Position: Full sun

    ???? Height: Dependent on variety

    ???? Soil: fertile, well-drained soil

    Butterflies that particularly love this plant variety: Cabbage white butterflies

    Escallonia varieties such as ‘pink elle’

    A beautiful flowering evergreen shrub that bloom for months throughout the summer. Flower heads are available in shades of red, pink and even white and contrast beautifully with oval glossy green leaves.

    ???? Flowers: June – July and then again in September

    ????Position: Full sun

    ???? Height: Dependent on variety

    ???? Soil: fertile, well-drained soil

    Butterflies that particularly love this plant variety: Monarch butterflies

    Other popular butterfly-friendly plant varieties include: Sedum, Echinops, Aster, Monarda, Rudbeckia, Nepeta and Salvia.

    Click here for our blog post on pollinator-friendly plants throughout the season

    Posted 1st Aug 11:15am
    Read more >