Latest Stories

  1. Multi-million-pound makeover for five-star Durham spa hotel

    Multi-million-pound makeover for five-star Durham spa hotel

    We have recently provided over five thousand plants to a five-star luxury spa hotel in County Durham, as part of the venue’s £8.5million expansion plans.

    We were chosen to supply a range of plants and trees to Seaham Hall Hotel’s grounds, including its bungalow lodges, 44,000sq ft spa area and hotel terrace, as a project to develop a series of new luxury suites for the hotel also gets underway.

    Johnsons worked with Richard Porter of Garden Vision Ltd, supplied the plants for the project, providing a diverse range of plants and trees, ensuring a considered approach in keeping with the property’s Georgian heritage. The supply included Allium hollandicum plants, Allium nigrum, Betula jacquemontii trees, Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’, Lavandula ‘Hidcote’, Magnolia ‘Susan’ and Nepeta faassenii. Garden Vision completed the designs for the outside spa area, terrace and lodges as well as providing the soft and hard landscaping for the projects.

    Our three-generation family business has an excellent reputation for supplying the hotel trade. Previous projects include Grantley Hall in Ripon, The Torridon in Scotland and The Springs Resort & Golf Club in Oxfordshire.

    Seaham Hall Hotel, which was built in 1791 in Seaham, 25 miles northeast of Durham, was converted into a luxury hotel in 2012, with its owners committed to ensuring the future of the property as the finest five-star hotel in the region. From a WWI military hospital to a secret whisky bottling facility in the Prohibition era, the Hall has a rich history which is kept alive through the character and charm of the modern-day hotel.

    Today the hotel boasts 21 guest suites, an on-site spa and two restaurant concepts for guests to enjoy and has scooped a string of prestigious awards, the most recent being gold at the VisitEngland Awards 2022, the 2022 AA Inspectors’ Choice Hotel Awards and Good Hotel Guide Editor’s Choice Spa Awards in 2021. The hotel has also been named in The Times and The Sunday Times Best Places to Stay list 2023.

    Johnsons of Whixley marketing manager, Eleanor Richardson, said: “We are thrilled to work with the Seaham Hall Hotel team as their ambitious development plans get underway, in collaboration with our customer Richard from Garden Vision Durham, who delivered the hard and soft landscaping of the project.

    “This was a really exciting project that required incredible attention to detail to ensure that the plants and trees enhanced the property’s heritage and features, while maintaining the luxury coastal feel that guests enjoy, being so close to the beautiful Durham Heritage Coastline.

    Richard Porter Director at Garden Vision Ltd said: “Garden Vision have been proud to complete the design, landscaping & planting for Seaham Hall, a client that we have a great working relationship with. Throughout the design process, I was able to call on the knowledge from Johnson’s, when needed, to ensure the planting design and implementation delivered the quality required for this historic venue.”

    Ross Grieve, Managing Director from Seaham Hall Hotel, said: “The grounds around the hotel are as stunning at the hotel itself, and it’s something which our guests really enjoy – especially being out in the coastal air . Therefore it was important for us to work alongside a business who not only understand this, but have built its reputation landscaping in County Durham and the surrounding counties.”

    Posted 26th Jul 12:00pm
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  2. July Gardening Reminders 2023

    July Gardening Reminders 2023

    Keep control of soft, fast-growing weeds such as thistles; they harbour aphids and other problems.

    Now is the time to make yourself a good big compost bin, just before you really need it!  Ideally, use four stakes as corners 1 metre apart in a square and staple wire netting (1 metre deep) around the square. This affords easy entry when you wish to empty it, or it can be made bigger or smaller at will.  If you would like a really permanent one, use pressure-treated plywood or boards instead of netting.

    Treat shrubs which were cut back in the spring with a high Sulphate of Potash feed to encourage the production of flower buds for next year. Prune shrubs grown on walls and pergolas to remove some of the top growth and further stimulate growth from the base of the plant.

    Evergreen hedges can be clipped this month (and some deciduous ones), but ensure there are no nesting birds in the hedge or bush. Cut laurel, and Eleagnus hedges with secateurs to prevent cut leaves. In hot weather, spray newly planted container-grown hedge plant foliage with water as well as ensuring that the root zone continues to be kept moist.

    Lift tulip bulbs after they have fully died down and store them in paper bags in a dry and airy place over the summer.

     Keep hydrangeas well-watered, particularly those growing in containers, as they quickly show signs of drought, and it can be difficult to get them to fully recover.

     Check the moisture level of hanging baskets every morning, and water thoroughly if dry. Feed plants with a soluble or liquid feed once per week and remove flower heads which are going over.

     Divide established clumps of bearded iris immediately after blooming and plant in the ground or in containers and keep moist. Discard the older exhausted rhizomes, and cut back the foliage of the new plants to approximately 12-15cm.

    Lawns may have turned brown in the very dry weather we had in June, but if it rains significantly in the near future, the lawn will quickly green up again. If it remains dry, leave grass mowings on the lawn to act as a mulch. Remove significant weeds, as these will quickly outgrow the surrounding grass.

    Roses will appreciate a good soak in the dry weather, remove spent flowerheads and ensure that greenflies are not becoming established on the younger shoots. Apply a summer rose feed in mid-month.

    Before hose watering during the summer, ensure that your region has not had watering restrictions imposed, as water resources appear to have become under stress much earlier in the summer than usual.

    In dry weather, an effective way of reducing moisture loss on bare ground between plants is to hoe the ground lightly to maintain a loose tilth, but don’t hoe too deeply. Another good aid in very dry conditions is to apply a 2-3cm mulch of garden compost to the soil surface.

    Prune or tie in shrubs growing on walls or pergolas to secure some of the heavy top growth and further stimulate additional growth from the lower regions of the plant.

     Give the root balls of newly purchased container-grown shrubs and trees a really good soaking before planting and again 5 or 6 days later after planting. Ensure that stakes remain secure after the wind.

    July is a good month to take Heather cuttings, choose strong, young, half-ripe, non-flowering shoots, and dip the bottom 5cm in rooting hormone. Insert around the edge of a 9cm pot.  Keep in a closed-shaded area, and don’t allow it to dry out, but don’t allow drips from covering glass to fall on them!

    Posted 11th Jul 10:59am
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  3. Getting involved with York Cares Big Community Challenge

    Getting involved with York Cares Big Community Challenge

    As a proud Yorkshire business, we were delighted to get involved with the York Cares Big Community Challenge, a remarkable initiative aimed at transforming public areas in York.

    The Big Community Challenge (BCC) is an annual event that brings together businesses, volunteers and local organisations to create lasting improvements within the city. The challenge acts as a catalyst for positive change, uniting individuals with a shared vision of enhancing York’s green spaces for the benefit of all.

    Our aim was to help with the rejuvenation of three sites across the city – Foss Walkway, Hull Road Park and Rowntree Park.

    The three sites were chosen due to their links with the city’s river heritage, with the BCC team focusing on the maintenance and restoration of the river and wetland areas in the city, as well as preserving and improving biodiversity in York.

    Our wonderful team donated a selection of plants with a total value of £1,500 to the projects, resulting in the transformation of neglected beds into vibrant, pollinator-friendly havens. Check it out below!

    Hull Park Road

    Hull Road Park was in need of some TLC, with the site being overrun by invasive weeds such as bindweed, marestail and ground elder. Recognising the park’s potential, we joined forces with the York Cares Big Community Challenge to restore these neglected areas.

    First, the existing beds were dug out to remove the invasive weeds from their root. To prevent the return of these harmful weeds, a weed membrane was installed and backfilled with fresh topsoil.

    The roses that were in the park have been replaced with new planting that will tolerate tougher conditions, such as drought, and are not as maintenance-heavy as roses.

    The planting also offers increased benefits for pollinators, helping to support the biodiversity in the area. As the plants took root and flourished, the rejuvenated beds breathed new life into the parks, adding some much-needed greenery to the area. The formal entrance to Hull Road Park is greatly improved – we are so happy with the result!

    Holly Hennell, manager of York Cares, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Johnson’s for their very generous donation of plants for the Big Community Challenge. The plants have helped to transform three public spaces in York and will be enjoyed by many for years to come. These donations enable us to make a really visible impact.”

    If you’d like to learn more about how our plants can support your projects, please get in touch with our team today.

    Posted 11th Jul 9:54am
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  4. A new role for Ed Greaves

    A new role for Ed Greaves

    Congratulations to Ed Greaves, who was recently promoted to Plant Centre Sales Assistant here’s what he had to say about his new role below:

    1) What will your new role involve?

    Quoting customer orders, responding to customer queries via both emails or over the phone, putting orders through the till and taking payment along with general front-of-house duties.

    2) What was your previous role at Johnsons?

    I was primarily an amenity lifter but spent a bit of time in the cultural and potting departments.

    3) Have you worked anywhere previously that will help you within this role?

    Working at a pub as it helped me to develop how to engage with customers both face to face and on the phone. Also working at Johnsons as it has helped to develop my plant knowledge.

    4) What do you think the challenges will be?

    Initially, it will be just getting used to the processes of completing an order from start to finish, but after that, it would be dealing with any problems that come from customers and how to deal with their problems efficiently and in a timely manner.

    5) What are you most looking forward to?

    I’m looking forward to working with new people in a new environment. Along with this, I’m looking forward to learning more about sales, from sourcing plants from suppliers to prices and margins etc. but most of all I’m most looking forward to enjoying a cup of tea while I work.

    6) Tell us something we don’t know about you:

    In 2018 I was invited to Buckingham Palace twice to steward tea parties on behalf of The Boys’ Brigade. One was the Royal Garden Party and the other was for HRH King Charles’ 70th birthday celebration.

    7) Where would we find you at the weekend?

    Either playing/coaching football or cricket or in the pub.

    8)Dream travel destination?

    New Zealand or Norway.

    9) Favourite food?

    Mexican food – I Love fajitas, enchiladas, and burritos.

    10) An Item you couldn’t live without:

    As much as I hate to say it, it would probably be my phone.

    Posted 10th Jul 4:47pm
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  5. Collaborating with Askham Bryan College to create a bespoke horticultural training course

    Collaborating with Askham Bryan College to create a bespoke horticultural training course

    We have teamed up with York Agricultural and Horticultural College, Askham Bryan to create a new bespoke 12-week horticultural training course.

    We first contacted Askham in the early spring of ’23 regarding a training partnership to ensure our employees stay at the forefront of horticultural knowledge through specialised training.

    We have worked with the college since the 1970s and have provided work placements for students and the college has provided horticultural courses for its staff. Johnsons chairman, John Richardson was also a governor at Askham for twenty years.

    The course, ‘An Introduction to Horticulture’, will offer employees from Johnsons the chance to broaden their knowledge in various aspects of horticulture, from plant identification to planting locations and the impacts of plant choices, with a mixture of practical and theoretical tests.

    The weekly sessions will be held from July – September at the college, which recently celebrated 75 years of providing specialist education. The course will be repeated for future cohorts of Johnsons employees.

    Attendees put their own names forward to attend the inaugural course and were selected by their line managers. Course attendees include Adam Davis, Matt Campey, Gary Hardwicke, Ashley Robinson, Tomasz Kedra, Gergo Kontos, Chris Edgar, Chris Pearce, Matthew Goodwin, Elliot Green, Katie Burlingham, Dmytro Orlov, Filippo Pellizon and Louise Roberts.

    Askham Bryan Curriculum area manager, Steve Bassford, said: “The college is looking forward to having the opportunity to deliver the bespoke course and building on already formed relationships. Having a positive impact on a local business such as Johnsons of Whixley enables a commercial education partnership which will be mutually beneficial to all.”

    Johnsons of Whixley marketing and office manager, Eleanor Richardson, said: “It’s important to invest in our employee’s futures, to broaden and enhance their existing knowledge. This comprehensive learning experience will equip them with essential skills in the field of horticulture and is a good opportunity to get different departments working together in collaboration with our local college again.

    Posted 6th Jul 12:03pm
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