Latest Stories

  1. A warm welcome to Catherine Cowling

    A warm welcome to Catherine Cowling

    A warm welcome to Catherine Cowling who joins our cash & carry team – see what she had to say about her new role below:

    1) What will your new role involve?

    Caring for the plants and their environment within the cash & carry team.

    2) Where have you worked previously to Johnsons?

    I have owned my own business for the last 22 years. Time for a change and new adventures.

    3) What makes the horticultural industry attractive to you?

    As a keen amateur gardener, I am as happy talking to the plants as I am to my colleagues, customers and inquisitive robins alike.

    4) Tell us something that you have learnt during your time at JOW that you didn’t know before?

    The plants around me have more up-to-date passports than I do.

    5) What would we find you doing at the weekend?

    Rebuilding, restoring and renovating an old cottage in the Yorkshire Dales using heritage materials and methods. A labour of love and a thief of time.

    I am also writing a novel.

    6) Favourite cuisine?

    Keralan (South Indian).

    7) Have any hidden talents?

    Many hidden talents I harbour well, but am reluctant to share, show or tell. Concealed for a reason, I’m sorry to say. You’ll have to wait for another day.

    8) Name an item you couldn’t live without:

    A camera.

    Posted 5th Dec 1:16pm
    Read more >

  2. A new role for Elliot Green

    A new role for Elliot Green

    Congratulations to Elliot Green, who has been promoted to deputy amenity operations manager from Cattal senior nursery worker. Find out what he had to say about his new role below:

    1)What is your new role, and what does it involve?

    Deputy Amenity Operations manager.

    I cover for the Amenity Operations manager when he is not present. Day to day, I help train new lifters and am involved with progressing the department.

    2)How will this differ from the last role?

    At first, I thought it would be very similar to my last role deputising to Ned at Cattal, where we would organise the daily lifting of orders. Here at Newlands, the role is involved with other departments, and the role itself covers a much larger scale and a bigger team that changes regularly.

    3)What have you enjoyed from your role so far?

    The opportunity to work with two different Managers in a short time has been interesting. As the scale and complexity are much larger, I have enjoyed learning and gaining knowledge of new plants and processes.

    4)What do you think the challenges will be?

    Gaining enough knowledge to add and develop a well-run department.

    5)Do you have hobbies outside of work?

    I enjoy Gaming, music and sport.

    6)What is your favourite food?

    I like Enchiladas, Steak or Salmon.

    7)Tell us something your colleagues don’t know about you?

    Jack Witham my cousin knocked me out, I was taken to Hospital by Ambulance and had to stay overnight, I suffered concussion for a fortnight.

    8) If you could live in another country, where would it be and why?

    Australia for the outdoor lifestyle.

    Posted 5th Dec 1:10pm
    Read more >

  3. Meet our management trainee - Adrian Smith

    Meet our management trainee -  Adrian Smith

    Welcome to the team, Adrian Smith, who recently joined the team as a management trainee. Adrian, like Charlotte, will work at different sites within the business and learn about how each site runs.

    1) Have you had any previous experience in horticulture?

    I have spent the last 20 years in various nurseries/garden centres starting as a nursery assistant, then as assistant manager and finally as a nursery manager involved in the production of plant stock to sell within the nursery.

    2) Did you study anywhere?

    I haven’t studied horticulture other than gaining an HTA Diploma in Garden Retail which allowed me to utilise what I learnt within the retail environment of horticulture I have come from. But carrying out the job I have for the time I have done it within different places has enabled me to learn so much.

    3) Where did you previously work?

    I started my career in horticulture after being made redundant from the Post Office. My first placement in horticulture was a year in a garden centre as a plant area assistant. Then came an opportunity to work within a retail nursery where I spent ten years and learnt a lot about growing, not just selling plants, and widened my plant knowledge considerably. During that time, I also set up my own garden design business along with a friend and would carry this out on my days off. After ten years, the company I worked for had to be sold, so I moved on to be an assistant manager in a garden centre for a couple of years, then had the opportunity to become a growing manager back at the nursery I started at after being taken over. I was then given the opportunity to become a nursery manager at a garden centre near Rutland Water, where I was able to grow many varieties of plants to sell within the shop.

    4) What will your training at Johnsons involve?

    While carrying out the management course, I will have to spend so many weeks within each department of Johnsons to enable me to understand a little of how the whole business works. This will go on for a period of 2 years, and some departments will go back for a second time. During this time, I have to complete sections of a file of work. I have to show what I have learnt about each particular job every few weeks.

    I will have meetings with my mentor Rob along with the particular manager of each department to discuss how I am getting on and any concerns I may have.

    5) What have you enjoyed so far?

    Having just spent five weeks at Roecliffe, I have been allowed to learn a variety of things that are done within the company, which has made it enjoyable. I also spent a day at Newlands with my partner Charlotte, learning Tractor and Dumper Truck driving. We had a great day with Martin teaching us despite him constantly getting my name wrong. Ha ha. Plus, it fell on the same day that we had ‘Burger Day’, so it was a good day all around.

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

    I am hoping to gradually gain more confidence in my own abilities as I struggle to have self-belief in what I can do. Also, as both my partner and I are very interested in the propagation and growing plants, we hope that in time we will be able to use what experience we have in this field to get the business to look into more of this if the opportunity arose.

    7. What do you think the challenges will be?

    Having come from a smaller retail growing environment, I think for me the challenges will be working for such a large wholesale company with many different departments and separate locations that work in a completely different way than I am used to. Along with this, getting to know so many different people each time I move onto a new department and hope that they will be able to work with me. It’s always a big challenge moving to a new job, but also moving to a new area and working in a field I am not used to can sometimes become a little overwhelming.

    8. Tell us a random fact about yourself?

    In between my roles within horticulture, I took on a role within the Ambulance Service as an Emergency Care Assistant for a short time. This was quite a challenging job but one which I am glad I had a go at despite the stresses. In the end, Horticulture came calling again, and I went back to looking after plants rather than people.

    9. Do you have any hobbies?

    I haven’t done any since moving to Yorkshire, but I have done various half and full marathons and find running a great activity for clearing the mind. I also like to do quite a bit of hill walking and, in the past, have done the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

    Posted 5th Dec 1:02pm
    Read more >

  4. Meet our management trainee - Charlotte Smith

    Meet our management trainee - Charlotte Smith

    A warm welcome to Charlotte Smith, who recently joined the team as a management trainee. Charlotte will be working at different sites within the business and will learn about how each site runs.

    1) Tell us about your past roles in horticulture:

    I worked as a nursery assistant and then progressed to a deputy manager at a retail nursery. I also spent time propagating at a specialist conifer nursery, learning from conifer expert Derek Spicer.

    2) What will your role as a management trainee include?

    Learning all aspects of the business and how each site runs.

    3) What have you enjoyed most about your time at Johnsons so far?

    The day spent tractor & dumper training and my time spent at Roecliffe, especially when I was put in charge of the lifting.

    4) What are you most looking forward to in your role?

    The potential to expand on my propagation trail of Mahonias and to perhaps propagate more plant varieties on site.

    5) What do you think the challenges will be?

    Understanding departments well enough to be able to assist in managing them.

    6) Favourite plant variety?

    We have quite a collection of trees at home, all currently in pots; however, my favourite would have to be Cercis ‘Ruby Falls’.

    7) What do you like to get up to outside of work?

    Going for long walks in the Yorkshire dales and along the coast. I enjoy visiting small independent nurseries to expand our plant collection. Also, spending time working on our new allotment.

    8) Tell us something your colleagues won’t know about you:

    I have just had a new tattoo, meaning I now have seven.

    Posted 5th Dec 11:53am
    Read more >

  5. Ranked as Yorks 40th top business

    Ranked as Yorks 40th top business

    We are delighted to have been crowned as the region’s 40th top business.

    We have now appeared in the York Top 100 Businesses report for five consecutive editions.

    The list is compiled jointly by York Business School at the city’s St John University, Make it York and The Press newspaper.

    Placings are calculated using an algorithm devised by York Business School that includes critical performance factors such as turnover, profit, growth and staff numbers.

    Group Managing Director Graham Richardson said: ” We are extremely proud to have been crowned York’s 40th leading business, alongside so many elite businesses in our region.”

    Posted 5th Dec 11:41am
    Read more >

  6. Getting into the Christmas spirit - wreath workshop

    Getting into the Christmas spirit - wreath workshop

    Twenty-four staff members recently came together for a wreath workshop hosted by Johnsons employee Rachael Richardson on the 30th of November.

    The wreath workshop was organised by Rachael and Ellie Richardson and paid for by the company.

    Rachael owns Folium Floral Design outside of work and provided the wreath workshop, where staff enjoyed making their own Christmas wreaths to take home.

    The evening was a huge success and got everyone into the Christmas spirit; the staff enjoyed mulled wine, hot chocolates and mince pies while making their wreaths.


    Posted 5th Dec 11:35am
    Read more >

  7. December gardening reminders 2022

    December gardening reminders 2022

    Want to keep busy in the garden during December? There’s plenty to do, from clearing leaves, cutting back overgrown hedges, pruning Acers and Betulas, planting new fruit trees and bushes and more… check out our full hints and tips by our chairman and horticulturist, John Richardson below.

    After the heavy November rain, fallen leaves are becoming a congealed mass in many gardens Try and clear them to the compost heap before they begin to rot and affect many of the plants, such as herbaceous, alpines, low-growing shrubs and plants in containers.

    Ensure that outside taps and taps in unheated buildings are well insulated, and turn off the stop taps to prevent the possibility of them freezing.

    Clear leaves off the lawn and replace any damaged areas of turf with new turfs from a less obvious location on the lawn.

    Take the opportunity to cut back overgrown hedges, either mechanically on deciduous plants by the use of a saw or secateurs on large-leafed evergreens such as laurel or rhododendrons. Wait until growth starts again in the spring before pruning conifer hedges.

    Clean moss and lichen from paths and walls. There are several brands of commercial cleaners available, but bleach is equally as good. A power washer will make light work of the job, which is impressive when completed!

    If you intend to get on with early winter digging, cover a suitable area with polythene so that the ground is not waterlogged when you wish to dig.

    Lower temperatures and snow are forecast; make sure your bird feeding stations are clean and regularly refilled. The same applies to an accessible water supply. Remember, cooked food for birds instead of bird seed may attract vermin.

    If heavy snow falls, try and make some time to brush or shake it off trees and shrubs where it is likely to cause breakage to branches due to the weight of the snow.

    If rabbits are a problem in your area, protect newly planted shrubs with rabbit guards or wire netting to prevent them from damaging the stems.

    Prune Acers and Betula species before mid-December to prevent wounds from bleeding.  Do not prune Hamemellis, Chimonanthus, Forsythia etc., until after flowering.

    Plant new fruit trees and bushes in clean fertile soil and stake as appropriate for the plant and subsequent growth intention.

    Take hardwood cuttings of a range of woody trees and shrubs as recommended.

    Thoroughly clean and oil all garden tools, and sharpen those with cutting edges. Change the oil in the lawnmower to be ready for next season.

    Check stored fruits for signs of rotting and throw out damaged fruit for the birds.

    Any plants which are now too big for their location or ‘in the wrong place’ can be safely moved. The soil in December is usually warm enough to stimulate the production of new roots. Stake tall new plants to prevent wind rock until well-rooted, and reduce their size if appropriate.

    Move permanent container plants such as Camellias into the shelter in the lee of walls.


    Posted 5th Dec 9:45am
    Read more >