Beneficial bugs

Beneficial bugs

January 26th, 2024 by

Following on from the recent interest in the aphid mummy found on the nursery, here is some more information about predatory bugs and how they can be used in the nursery or a garden setting.

Biological controls such as parasitic wasps and nematodes are used by nurseries to control insect pests such as aphids and spider mites. In the garden, these beneficial bugs are less under our control, but that does not mean they are not effective. On the nursery, these predators are used in controlled areas such as in the glasshouse where the atmosphere can be controlled and all exits sealed. In these conditions, nematodes can be used to control sciarid flies, thrips and vine weevils. These microscopic worm-like creatures are supplied in a gel-like carrier and then applied to the crop in water as a drench.  The nematode then seeks out a host, enters the body and releases a bacterium, which will kill the pest. Parasitic wasps can be released into a controlled environment. They are applied to the crop as aphid mummies. The adult wasp, when it emerges, looks for an aphid to lay their eggs into and repeats the process. Different species of wasps attack different aphids, so correct identification is important.

We all do our best to attract pollinator insects into our gardens by providing insect hotels and planting areas that suit how they feed; unfortunately, this also attracts the bugs we don’t want to see, such as aphids and midges. So, before you reach for the chemicals, think about your first line of defence being the beneficial bugs found naturally in your garden. Don’t underestimate a Ladybird; think of these as the bouncers to your flowerbeds. They are voracious beetles that can eat 5000 aphids in a lifetime. This is due to the larvae and the adult being predators, which will also munch their way through midge larvae and small caterpillars.

Other beneficial bugs that you will come across are lacewing, the larvae, and the adults will predate on aphids. They will even go to great lengths to camouflage themselves with the carcass of dead aphids so they can sneak closer to their prey without being detected. Hoverflies, as well as being good pollinators they will predate on aphids and small prey. Another bug which will be familiar to those who work in gardens are the Flower bug (also known as the Pirate bug due to its markings) because as well as all the good work they do in the garden to feed off aphids, caterpillars and midge larvae, they do bite us too.

This use of beneficial bugs as a line of attack against pests is a good way to reduce our reliance on chemical controls. It encourages the food chain to develop in the garden as the beneficial bugs will themselves become lunch for birds and small mammals. It is also a less discriminatory method of dealing with insect pests than just blanket spraying the whole crop or garden with chemicals.

Why Plant Health matters to us

Why Plant Health matters to us

January 23rd, 2020 by

2020 is the International Year of Plant Health and it is a great opportunity for us to celebrate our healthy plants and to promote our responsible practices that reduce the spread of plant pests and diseases.

Here are some of the reasons why plant health matters to us:

Protecting our woodlands

Trees are under increasing threat from pests and diseases such as ash-dieback and oak Processionary Moth. We regularly review our Plant Health Policy to ensure that we operate to the highest of standards.

Creating beautiful gardens and landscapes

Healthy plants are fundamental to the creation of beautiful gardens and landscapes. We work to produce robust and healthy plants which will thrive after they are planted.

Safeguarding native flora and fauna

Non-native pests and diseases can be very damaging to our native plants and wildlife. We work closely with the plant health authorities and carefully source and inspect any imported plants to minimize risk.

Healthy plants are essential for life

Plants produce the oxygen we breathe and absorb carbon dioxide, they are essential for the food we eat and the environment we live in. Without them, we could not be here.

As well as working with plant health authorities and reviewing our policies regularly, we also employed our very own plant health specialist, Rebekah Robinson, you can find out all about her and her role in the following blog post > Plant Health Specialist

You can also find out more about the International Year of Plant Health on the Defra Plant Health portal here.

Johnsons brings a touch of Chile to Yorkshire

Johnsons brings a touch of Chile to Yorkshire

August 15th, 2019 by

We have recently added to our blooming repertoire with the launch of a new Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ plant line, just in time for our new catalogue in September.

The award-winning plant, which originally derives from Chile, has been carefully cultivated over the winter by production manager Ian Nelson and the rest of our team.

He put the plant through multiple tests, finding it able to withstand harsh conditions, require minimal care, as well as being suitable for use across a range of soil conditions.

‘Angel Wings’ is identifiable by its striking silver leaves and silky touch. It is also drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant, making it the perfect addition to a coastal garden.

We debuted ‘Angel Wings’ on our stand at the National Plant Show in June where it attracted widespread attention.

‘Angel Wings’, which has also been seen in the Falklands and Argentina, was first discovered by plant developer Lyall Fieldes on a trip to the Patagonia region of Chile. It has since made its mark on the European market, winning a bronze medal at the Netherlands Plantarium in 2016 and the Glee new product award in 2017.

Ian Nelson,  Production Manager said “We always strive to provide something unique and beautiful that will bring something special to a garden or larger-scale project.

“As ‘Angel Wings’ is a very robust plant, it is perfect for most growing conditions, while still maintaining its soft and delicate appearance. It requires very little care due to its durable nature and will add a gorgeous touch to flower beds and pots alike.”

Garden Centre Sales Assistant Manager, Paul Lamb, added:  “We are delighted to be able to offer the sought-after Senecio ‘Angels Wings’ to our customers. We are launching with a 5L version, and as we head into 2020 we will have the plant available in both a 3L and a 5L size.”If you’d like to find out more about Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ click here to contact a sales rep today


Patio perfect Pieris varieties

Patio perfect Pieris varieties

April 24th, 2019 by

 Pieris, also known as Lily of the Valley shrubs, are looking fantastic right now with their generous bell-shaped flowers that emerge at the end of March through to May in an array of colours. Best grown in a sunny or partial shade position with slightly acidic soil, they would make a great addition to a pot on the patio. With thousands available on our current stock list, we are sure there’s a Pieris for your next design or planting plan – but which one’s for you?

Pieris ‘Mountain Fire’

One of our favourite Pieris varieties, known for its decorative foliage that starts off entirely red and matures to green with age. Clusters of white flowers against the blood red and green foliage creates a dramatic effect between March and May.


Pieris Katsura

A great, compact evergreen shrub that provides pale pink bell-shaped flowers similar to those of Lily of the Valley. The flowers emerge in late March and are followed by deep mahogany shoots.

Pieris ‘Flaming Silver’

A variegated shrub with silvery white edges and elegant white bell-like flowers that flower from late March right through until May. Wonderful in a shaded spot in the garden or in a patio pot.

Pieris ‘Passion’ 

This is an eye-catching evergreen shrub with generous pink red bell-shaped flowers from March to May growing in full sun or partial shade. It’s the perfect addition to a large pot on your patio.

National Gardening Week Competition (27th April - 5th May)

National Gardening Week Competition (27th April – 5th May)

April 23rd, 2019 by

National Gardening Week Competition

  1. The promotor is Johnsons of Whixley Ltd
  2. Entrants must like the Johnsons of Whixley Facebook page and have liked and commented on the post as requested to be in for a chance to win.
  3. The prize is open to all UK residents aged over 18 and above.
  4. There is only one prize available (one hamper worth £30), the contents of which include: one pair of gardening gloves, one Johnsons travel mug, one Johnsons tape measure, one pair of secateurs, one Green Fennel, one Chamaecyparis Fernspray Gold and one Lewisia Rainbow.
  5. Multiple entries from the same applicant will be discounted.
  6. The prize is as stated, no cash or alternative prize is available.
  7. The winner will be picked at random from all eligible entries.
  8. The competition will close at noon on Monday 6th May
  9. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 7th May 2019 on the Johnsons of Whixley Facebook page.
  10. The winner will be asked for their details for collection.
  11. The winner will receive their prize on collection.
  12. The winner is allowed up to five calendar days to claim the prize from the date their name is announced. If the winner fails to come forward than the prize shall be forfeited.
  13. Those who entered but did not win will not be contacted.
  14. Johnsons of Whixley will not take responsibility for any failure to the plant once the prize is received, replacements cannot be issued.
  15. If you are a winner, the promoter may request you to participate in any publicity or promotion organised by the promoter including promotional photographs.
  16. The promoter reserves the right to withdraw this offer or amend these Terms and Conditions at any time without notice.
  17. In the event of any dispute regarding the Terms and Conditions, the conduct, results and any other matters relating to this prize draw, the decision of the promoter shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.
  18. By entering applicants agree to the above terms and conditions
Bee keeping to help prevent a declining population

Bee keeping to help prevent a declining population

April 23rd, 2019 by

Bee keeping and plant growing go hand in hand, and it should come as no surprise we have an ever-expanding apiary onsite.


Within the first few weeks of spring, we have grown our apiary with the addition of another 200,000 honey bees, with that set to increase once again to over 800,000 by summer.


During a single pollen collection trip, a honey bee will visit anywhere between 50-100 flowers, making our nursery’s main 50-acre site the perfect home for bees. In the surrounding area, we have another 75 acres that will also be utilised by the bees as they have been known to travel over 2,000 miles to collect pollen.


As we lead into the busiest time of the year on our nursery, we will have more and more plants for the bees to visit and feed from.


Knowing about the declining bee population figures due to industrial agriculture and climate change, we contacted the Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association back in spring 2017 to help with increasing the growth in our area.


We installed an onsite apiary where bee keeping could be managed directly from our site, starting with just a small number of beehives with the aim to increase this year on year. Since the launch of our apiary, we are delighted to have seen a substantial increase over the last two years, with thanks to beekeeper Keith Simmonds, vice president of Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association.


Keith commented: “The mild winter has meant more colonies of bees have successfully survived through to the spring season. A mild spring will ensure that a good number of strong hives help the UK honey bee population to recover from the losses of recent times. Everyone can do their bit to help by ensuring that their garden, or planting scheme, includes something for the bees to live off.”


We would like to remind everyone of the importance of bees; not only do they pollinate a third of our food, they pollinate 80% of flowering plants. Some crops rely on pollinators, for example blueberries are 90% dependent on bees, and most of all, honey must be produced by bees – all of which alone contributes millions to our economy.


With the recent study that announced the decline to a third of the British wild bee and hoverfly population, we are very proud to be doing our bit for the environment and bee population. Our nursery is the perfect location for bee keeping, and we would like to encourage businesses with a similar landscape to create a home for bees too.

Hebe Magic varieties that really are spellbinding

Hebe Magic varieties that really are spellbinding

April 15th, 2019 by

When we think of Hebes, we naturally think of Hebe ‘Pagei’, Hebe ‘green globe’ or Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’, which are all fantastic shrubs in their own right, but they aren’t as spellbinding as the fantastic Hebe Magic colours collection. Find out why we think so below:

The Hebe Magic collection includes Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’, Hebe ‘Magic Summer’, Hebe ‘Frozen Flame’ and Hebe ‘Wild Romance’. All these plants change colour depending on the temperature and light intensity they are placed in. The plants can go from green, bronze and variegated in the summer, to wonderful reds, pinks and purples in winter – but which one tickles your fancy?

Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’ was the first in the Hebe Magic collection, and it really is a fantastic variety that will put on a colourful display throughout the year. Its cream edged green leaves can be seen through spring and summer, with mauve flowers between June and August, followed by vivid pink displays when the temperatures drop.

Hebe ‘Magic Summer’ has a grey green variegated leaf that turns a purple-red in winter and spring, which intensify as the temperature drops. It also has purple-blue flowers that will appear in early summer. This plant will look fantastic in a mixed border adding year-round interest to your garden or landscape.

Hebe ‘Frozen Flame’ also offers year-round interest with subtle, pale green foliage that includes veins of cream and deep purple-pink. These colours then intensify to a deeper pink-purple as the weather turns colder. As a compact shrub, it would make a great addition to a patio pot.

Hebe ‘Wild Romance’ is a great evergreen shrub that is ideal for beds, borders and containers – particularly when in a full sun to partial shade position. This hebe magic variety has dark green foliage that turns to deep burgundy at the end of each stem, that turns even darker going into the winter months.

Photinia ‘Red Robin’ VS Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’: which is best

Photinia ‘Red Robin’ VS Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’: which is best

April 9th, 2019 by

We have been producing Photinia ‘Red Robin’ on our nursery for over 25 years, however, we are always on the lookout for new and developing plant trends in our industry for our team to test new lines. Over the last couple of years, we have trialled several of the new Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’ variety and found it to be a tidier, and much more compact plant, with stronger red colouring.

So what are the highlights of both varieties, and what makes Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’ one to watch?

Photinia ‘Red Robin’ is a versatile evergreen shrub that can be used for hedging, trained against a wall and even used as a ½ std tree once trained. It is happy in most fertile soils, in either a sunny or shaded position. If you wish to encourage its strong red growth and more flowers, it will be better planted in a full sun position. White flowers appear by April and into May once the plant is better established. We have found Photinia ‘Red ‘Robin’ to become ‘leggy’ over time if it is not properly maintained, and left to run away with themselves, they can grow up to 4m tall and up to 4 m wide.

Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’ is a new compact variety that has blood red growth and smaller leaves reaching up to 2.5 m tall -nearly half the size of its mother plant Photinia ‘Red Robin’, – making it a much more appealing hedging variety, and an easily managed landscape shrub. Its red colouring is much more intense than that of ‘Red Robin’, while also being more tolerant of hard pruning and shaping. Similar to ‘Red Robin’, it produces white flowers come April and May if sited in a sunny position.

Production Manager Designate Robert Richardson said ‘’Photinia ‘Carre Rouge’ stays red whereas Photinia ‘Red Robin’ fades to green. It is also compact where a ‘Red Robin’ tends to sprawl and become unmanageable. I believe it is a much more appropriate plant for most landscape and garden settings, and in time, I can only see its popularity increasing.’’

Why recycling in the horticulture industry is essential

Why recycling in the horticulture industry is essential

March 18th, 2019 by

When Global Recycling Day comes around every March, we are reminded about the importance of saving the planet – and why it is essential that businesses in our industry join the battle against waste by putting in place a recycling scheme.

The horticulture sector faces huge challenges when it comes to recycling, particularly in relation to the amount of plastic it uses.

Our chairman, John Richardson, recently commented: “Despite being a ‘green’ industry, the demands of the trade, including the correct storage of plants, means that an incredible amount of plastic is used and then discarded. Making a positive contribution to the environment is at the heart of everything we do as a company and this is reflected in our recycling strategy.”

The plastic crisis has been one of most high-profile items in the news throughout the past year, with figures showing that more than 90% – or 6,300 million tonnes – of plastic waste has never been recycled[1].

As retailers of plastic packaging, we are required by law to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling, with an obligation to present a certain number of Packaging Return Notes (PRNs) to the officials at the end of the year.

In 2018, our company reported a total recovery obligation of 348 tonnes, broken down into four tonnes of paper, 116 tonnes of plastic and 92 tonnes of wood, and costing them in excess of £18,000 in recycling costs.

As part of our commitment to the environment, we are currently undertaking a year-long trial of recyclable plant pots. Made from 98% recycled plastic, the pots can be detected by domestic waste separation systems, unlike standard pots that are often used in the industry, which contain a carbon pigment that compromises recognition, resulting in a huge amount of pots ending up in landfill each year.

Providing the pots have no impact on plant growth and quality, the project will be rolled out to all of our garden centre customers from 2020.

In the meantime, our team makes every effort to recycle their own plastic pots, returning used or damaged items or pots to our supplier Aeroplas Ltd, who recycle them through their own production process.

We have also invested thousands of pounds into additional recycling processes, including funding the separate collection of cardboard, paper, plastic, pesticides, computers and batteries. Waste food from the canteen is collected weekly by Harrogate Borough Council.

We take our commitment to protecting the plant very seriously through implementing environmentally-friendly processes in the horticultural industry, and we are very proud of our ISO Standard 14001, setting the standard for Environmental Management Systems.

Six reasons why you should love and protect bees

Six reasons why you should love and protect bees

September 7th, 2017 by

Here are six reasons why you should love and protect bees this National Honey Month.

1) 1 out of 3 bites of food is originally sourced from a bee-pollinated plant.
2) Bees pollinate 80% of flowering plants on earth.
3) Bees have been producing plants for over 100 million years.
4) Only bees can make honey.
5) A colony pollinates 4,000 fruit trees.
6) Some crops are 90% dependent on bee pollination.
7) Bees contribute millions to our economy.

Pupils get planting for National Tree Week

Pupils get planting for National Tree Week

December 4th, 2017 by

Pupils get planting for National Tree Week

Pupils from Kirk Hammerton C of E Primary School received a lesson in the importance of planting trees this week from our procurement manager Jonathan Whittemore.

We also donated 45 bulbs, one for each child at the school to plant as part of National Tree Week which is organised each year by The Tree Council.

National Tree Week which took place from 26 November – 4 December is the UK’s largest tree celebration annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season and a chance for communities to do something positive for their local treescape.

Jonathan Whittemore presented to pupils on Tuesday 29 November about the importance of trees in the environment and also gifted a tree and plant pot for the entrance to the school.
Jonathan said:

“As a socially responsible business and one of the very few net contributors to the environment it’s very important to us to work with the local community to promote trees more than ever and to help ensure a green future for everything from humans and wildlife to bugs.

“Without trees, our towns and countryside would look bleak and uninspired.

“We enjoy working with the school and know that by visiting this week it has helped develop the children’s appreciation of the importance of tree planting and the sustainability of the local environment.”

Class 1 teacher, Brogan Fraser said:

“Following the event, the children took time to notice the trees around the school grounds, admiring their beautiful shapes and qualities. In the classroom they have been more aware of all the resources in school which are made from wood. Great fun was had by all!”

Executive Headteacher, Elizabeth Mellor said:
“I would like to add my sincere thanks to Johnsons of Whixley for their support of the school. The children benefitted enormously from the whole experience and as a result have a better understanding of how important trees are and also how to care for our environment.”

As part of our continued work in the local community, we also delivered 32 miniature Christmas trees to every child at Kirk Hammerton Nursery School.

Why bees are so important to us

Why bees are so important to us

July 10th, 2017 by

Why bees are so important to us

1) Every third mouthful of food we eat relies on pollinators.
2) Approximately 250,000 species of flowering plants depend on other plants to help them pollinate.
3) Broccoli, Asparagus, Cucumbers, Apples, Cherries, Almonds and Watermelons are among foods that would no longer be available if bees ceased pollinating.
4) Bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 food crops we eat.
5) By keeping flowers pollinated, bees help floral growth and provide attractive habitats for other insects and birds.
6) Imagine a Summer’s day without flowers. Bees help beautify our planet.
7) Honey bees help contribute to our economy. Inn 2008, the British Bee Keepers Association estimated that they contribute £165 million annually.

8) And last but not least, bees are the only insect in the world that produces food eaten by man (honey).

Keeping your garden green is more important than ever before

Keeping your garden green is more important than ever before

July 27th, 2017 by

Keeping your garden green is more important than ever before

With the rise of low-maintenance gardens, and plant-free drives, it is important to remind ourselves just how important our gardens and green fronts are.

Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson shares eight reasons why you should be like us – and keep you garden green!
1) Trees and plants help prevent flooding by absorbing water
2) Gardens increase a feeling of wellbeing
3) Trees and plants filter air pollution
4) You will attract bees and butterflies, even if you don’t have a large garden
5) You will increase the aesthetic appeal of your neighborhood
6) Your trees and plants give nature a home
7) Your hedging and trees help create a sound barrier
8) Porous drives soak up 50% more rain then tarmac or paving

Johnsons plays key role in boosting UK tree population

Johnsons plays key role in boosting UK tree population

November 27th, 2017 by

Johnsons plays key role in boosting UK tree population

We’ve grown and supplied more than 2.5 million trees during the last 12 months, placing us as one of the UK’s biggest net contributors to the nation’s tree population.

This week is National Tree Week (25 November – 3 December) which is organised by the UK Tree Council to mark the start of the winter tree planting season and aims to encourage communities to do something positive for their local treescape.Just 13% of the UK’s total land area is covered in trees, compared with an average elsewhere in the EU of about 35%. In England, the figure is just 10%.

It is estimated that we have grown and supplied a total of 110 million trees and hedging plants since our chairman John Richardson purchased the business in 1964, and we are continuing to supply plants and trees to high-profile projects up and down the country.

The variety of trees grown ranges from forest trees and woodland plantings, to smaller hawthorn and fringe hedging species.

Our group managing director, Graham Richardson, said: “National Tree Week provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the many benefits trees bring, including improved air quality, flash flood prevention and shelter for wildlife, and acknowledges the importance of protecting and nurturing British woodland.”

“The benefits of strong woodland coverage in the UK are clear, not least of all because wood is an essential material in construction, and we are proud to play such a significant role in boosting the nation’s tree population.”


How to create a bird friendly garden

How to create a bird friendly garden

January 14th, 2018 by

How to create a bird friendly garden

Want to create a bird friendly garden but not sure how? Check out our guide below.

1) Grasses not only provide cover their seed heads provide food and material for birds’ nests.
2) Providing birds with a feeder encourages them into your garden. Once they know there’s a food source there they will be back again for more.
3) Why not add a bird bath or small pond to your garden to encourage birds. Birds love a good splash and can quench their thirst.
4) Certain shrub varieties provide great cover, nectar, attract insects and some even provide birds with berries.
5) Adding a bird house to your garden will provide birds with additional shelter and more options on when it comes to building their nest.
6) Trees are great as they provide a natural location for birds to build a nest, some provide nectar, berries and trees often attract insects.
7) Ground cover like Ivy provides cover for birds and also attracts insects.

How to create a Dog friendly garden

How to create a Dog friendly garden

April 6th, 2018 by

How to create a Dog friendly garden

1) There are lots of plants in your garden that are potentially harmful to your dog if eaten including daffodils, Tulips, foxgloves, delphinium and yew. Either replace them with more suitable plants or make sure you keep an eye on your dog when they’re out in the garden.

2) Make sure your fences are safe and secure along with keeping your gate locked to make sure your dog can’t escape. Remember they can jump quite high if they want to so ensure your hedge and fence is at a good height.

3) Keep your dog away from slugs and snails as they can catch lungworm if they eat an infected slug or snail.4) Do provide a shaded area for your dog in summer, dogs have fur and often get too hot during summer.

5) Do keep chemicals and pesticides away from your dog as it could make your dog very sick.

6) Do choose robust and sturdy plants. Dogs are known for digging and running through plants so do choose robust shrubs and established perennials.

How to create a bee friendly garden for summer

How to create a bee friendly garden for summer

April 9th, 2018 by

How to create a bee friendly garden

1) Add nectar and pollen rich flowers to your garden including varieties such as Lavender, eryngium, heather, Ivy, Mahonia, Geranium, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Salvia and many other varieties.
2) Small garden? No problem, plant up seasonal containers that will encourage bees, they will particularly be drawn to plants in the sun.
3) If your garden is big enough, a natural meadow provides additional nectar and pollen and encourages different species of bees.
4) Make a bee bath using low water and stones they can land on. Don’t fill it too deep as it may drown the bees.
5) Avoid using pesticides as these could be harmful to the bees.
6) Think about the different seasons, particularly spring and late summer, where the bees need a boost.
7) Do provide bees shelter by leaving stumps or creating your own ‘bee hotel’.

Tips for your allotment

Tips for your allotment

August 14th, 2018 by

Check out our allotment tips for national allotment week.

•Crop rotation – this is a great practice to follow which helps with soil fertility, weed control and pest and disease control. Split your plot into sections depending on how much of one group you want to grow then each year rotate by one plot. This is normally done over 3 or 4 years
3 Year
• Year one
Section one: Potatoes
Section two: Legumes, onions and roots
Section three: Brassicas
• Year two
Section one: Legumes, onions and roots
Section two: Brassicas
Section three: Potatoes
• Year three
Section one: Brassicas
Section two: Potatoes
Section three: Legumes, onions and roots
4 Year
• Year one
Section one: Legumes
Section two: Brassicas
Section three: Potatoes
Section four: Onions and roots
• Year two
Section one: Brassicas
Section two: Potatoes
Section three: Onions and roots
Section four: Legumes
• Year three
Section one: Potatoes
Section two: Onions and roots
Section three: Legumes
Section four: Brassicas
• Year four
Section one: Onions and roots
Section two: Legumes
Section three: Brassicas
Section four: Potatoes

• Clear weeds from the site 1st. Do not use a rotavator as this can spread the roots of weeds such as Nettles and Bindweed which will then re grow. Instead cut down to a manageable height and use a fork or spade to dig out. This may seem labour intensive but worth it for great soil.

• Consider what you want to grow as some crops can be in the ground years or take up large amounts of room. Soft fruit bushes will require cages with netting to protect from birds.

• Weeding between rows with a hoe in dry weather will help keep weeds under control.

• Watering – plants need to be encouraged to search for water deeply, so water well once a week instead of a light sprinkling every day. If you have a shed on your plot, invest in a water butt. This helps create a convenient supply of water.

• Sun – Ideally a plot should be in sun which is ideal for most crops. If you have a more shaded location, then hose crops wisely. Currents and berries along with chards, kale and lettuces will grow well if planted out with an established root system.

• Soil – some crops won’t grow in particular soil so get dirty and test your soil. It is also worth doing a pH test as you may need to add soil improvers. Ideally you are looking for a pH level between 6.1 and 7 as most plants will grow in this as it is high in nutrient. It is always worth adding good rich organic matter each year.

• Pest and Diseases – the most common issue is with slugs and snails. They can devastate a crop over night so try and use organic control such as Wool pellets or go on a hunt overnight and pick them off. Watch out for diseases such as Allium Leaf Minor, Potato and Tomato Blight and Club Root.

• Make you own compost – from 1 simple compost bin to 3 large crates, there is a way to make your own compost for every size plot. Starting in the spring mix green, nitrogen-rich material with brown, carbon-rich material. Keep adding to the pile, breaking up larger items and if it becomes dry spray with water. Turn regularly with a fork as it starts to cool down. This method should see compost ready in 4 months.

• Mulching – one of the best for nutrients and cost effective is leaf mulch. Simply take a black bin liner and put a few holes in the side and bottom. Collect your leaves and put them in the bag along with a spray of water. Tie the back and place it in a shaded area until the following autumn when you can apply to the plot. Try to exclude conifer and evergreen as these take several years to decompose. If you have a larger area and a lot of leaves to collect, make a leaf bin out of stakes and chicken netting.

• Wildlife friendly plots – help to encourage bees, butterflies, hedgehogs and frogs especially in more urban areas. Avoid using harsh chemicals buy using companion planting or manually removing pests. Think about creating a wild flower section which may also include a small pond. Set up bee-boxes, hedgehogs-homes and log piles.

Why Butterflies are important to the world

Why Butterflies are important to the world

May 31st, 2018 by

To mark National Butterfly Awareness Day on Saturday, Johnsons of Whixley shares six reasons why we should all try to protect our winged friends:

1. Butterflies are great for educational purposes. Their life cycles are fascinating and watching them go from egg to caterpillar to butterfly is incredible.
2. Butterflies have been used scientifically for centuries to investigate many areas of biological research.
3. Butterflies play an important role in pollinating flowers. Pollen collects on the butterfly’s body as it feeds on a flower’s nectar. As the butterfly moves on to a new flower, it carries the pollen with it.
4. Thousands of people travel abroad each year looking for butterflies. Eco-tours bring valuable income to many countries.
5. Butterflies are sensitive to climate change. Scientists monitor butterflies as a method of watching for warning signs of the more widespread effects of the phenomenon.
6. Butterflies are an important part of the food chain, particularly to birds and bats.


How we are helping the bees

How we are helping the bees

July 16th, 2018 by

How we are helping the bees

1) Our plants and trees provide pollen and shelter throughout the seasons.
2) We grow 100’s of varieties of plants that are good pollinators including lavenders, Echinacea’s, Buddleia and many more.
3) Our onsite apiary houses up to 400,000 bees during the summer months.
4) Bees travel up to three miles for pollen, meaning all of our local sites will be used by our bees.
5) Our onsite ponds and reservoirs provide water for bees to keep hydrated.

Why Johnsons are net contributors to the environment

Why Johnsons are net contributors to the environment

June 4th, 2018 by

Why Johnsons are net contributors to the environment  

To mark World Environment Day on the 5th June, Johnsons is proud to list some of the ways we help make a positive contribution to the world around us:

• We achieved BS8555 ‘Development of Systems leading to full Environmental System’ in 2006
• We are accredited to the international quality standard ISO 9001:2015, and the environmental standard ISO 14001:2015, making us one of the few true net contributors to the environment
• No non-conforming activities have been identified for the past three years
• Our irrigation system uses rainfall and water wastage from the reservoirs
• We were identified as having the best UK nursery management systems by the MOD prior to their Aldershot refurbishment
• Our recycling for all waste, including plastic pots, is audited externally
• Our long release fertilizer included in all potting composts to ensure a nutrient reserve after planting
• 240 nursery stock growers have been inspected as potential suppliers of the widest range of available nursery stock
• The use of peat in our compost has been reduced by 40% by using crushed bark and wood fibre as alternatives
• Seven of our internal managers act as internal auditors of the environmental system
• All of our commercial vehicles now conform to the low emission standards
• All of our articulated truck trailers are low loading high volume spec
• All stores of liquids are fully bunded to prevent leakage to ground
• Our drainage systems have been upgraded to reduce scouring and silt erosion
• We are a member of the Ethical Compliance Scheme
• We have introduced a plant bio-security policy
• We have improved water oxygenation installed in irrigation ponds
• We have installed a bio-mass boiler installed to heat our propagation glasshouse and four staff houses
• We have erected many bird boxes erected and nesting birds are always protected
• We drilled an additional at Whixley to reduce use of mains water
• Our environmental systems work in tandem with quality and health and safety
• Our 200Kwh Biomass boiler has reduced the use of heating oil and provides winter protection for 1000s of plants
• The plants we supply embellish their surroundings

Our guide to outdoor watering in dry weather

Our guide to outdoor watering in dry weather

June 26th, 2018 by

Our guide to outdoor watering in dry weather

Drought (the definition for a gardener): drought is considered to occur in a garden when the soil moisture in the plant root zone is exhausted and the plants wilt. A continuous period of 15 days when there has been no measurable rain.

1) In hot weather, water in the cool of the early morning, in the evening the soil and the atmosphere will still be very warm and applied water will quickly evaporate.

2) Frequent light watering does not penetrate deep into the soil, soak the soil to a good depth from time to time. This will encourage deeper rooting and the tapping of water at lower levels.

3) After a heavy watering apply a mulch around the plant or tree, leaving 4-6 inches around the main stem to prevent fungal attacks. Remember that fine water absorbing roots are not under the trunk, but towards the edge of the plant canopy.

4) If water is not available it has been traditional to hoe the surface soil, but not deeply as you may be cutting surface roots. A crumbly, hoed surface will prevent transpiration from lower depths and facilitate the rapid absorption of rain, or water, which is applied.

5) When watering with a hose, use a rose in the end so that there is no solid water stream as this would contribute to water run-off and erosion.

6) There are now many good water sprinklers on the market which have a wide range of spray patters for efficient watering in a round or rectangular pattern. A sprinkler in conjunction with a water timer in the hose line will make the whole process so much easier.

7) Seep-hoses are particularly useful as they can be wound amongst plants that are susceptible to drought and left down all year.

8) Whenever possible, use rainwater (collected in a rainwater butt) for watering lime hating plants. such as rhododendrons, camellias, etc.

9) It’s worth noting that, half an inch of rain equals approx. 13,600 galls/acre or 2.8 gall/sq.

10) Remember, waterlogging can be as bad as drought!

Johnsons Landscape Architect training day 2018

Johnsons Landscape Architect training day 2018

October 12th, 2018 by

Johnsons Landscape Architect training day 2018

We hosted our Landscape architect training day on Thursday, 4th October, where we invite landscape architects and garden designers for a free one-day course to help broaden their knowledge of plants, planting and to gain an insight into what we do.

The full course date was taken up by nine members of Macgregor Smith, a landscape architect and award-winning practice, based in Bath that consists of landscape architects, urban designers and architects.

This is our third course, having first started in 2016, and the in-depth training day was led by our production manager, Ian Nelson, who has 40 years’ experience in the horticultural industry. Ian holds a HND in Horticulture and is a panel member on the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The session covered topics including natural hybridisation, basic propagation, planting and after care, contract grows and new plants.

Ian was assisted by Johnsons’ key account sales member, Andrew Barker.

Andrew said: “This is a great learning experience for new and experienced landscape designers and architects to help build knowledge of what we do and why we do it. It also provides an effective opportunity for a two-way discussion between the nursery and landscape architects.”

There are limited spaces available to attend our courses which are free to attend. To register your interest, or to book onto a course for next year, contact Ian Nelson on: or Andrew Barker on:

Johnsons trial plant pots aimed at reducing landfill

Johnsons trial plant pots aimed at reducing landfill

November 2nd, 2018 by

Johnsons trial plant pots aimed at reducing landfill.

We are excited to be trialling a revolutionary new type of plant pot to fight the industry battle against plastic waste.

The new taupe-coloured plant pots, in collaboration with pot manufacturer Aeroplas UK, are made from 98 per cent of recycled plastic and are detectable by domestic waste separation systems which means they can be put back into the recycling stream.

They are distinct from standard pots, which feature a carbon pigment that compromises recognition, and results in millions of pots ending up in landfill every year.
The new product is set to be tested throughout 2019 to identify any impact on growing performance. If no issues are found, the new pots will be available to the company’s garden centre customers across 2020.

Mark Reynard, Johnsons of Whixley’s Garden Centre sales manager, said: “As an industry we need to work together on ways to reduce landfill to keep our environment thriving.
“This innovative way is a small part of a much wider issue so we are really keen to find out how the tests go and hopefully this can be the beginning of various ways we, as a business and industry, continue to keep taking care of our surroundings.”