Latest Stories

  1. Brexit impact - Q & A with head of Procurement and Production

    Brexit impact - Q & A with head of Procurement and Production

    The Brexit transition period is fast approaching as new controls come into effect from the 1st January, we asked our head of Production and Procurement, Jonathan Whittemore, some questions about the challenges the nursery faces ahead.

    What challenges will the new changes bring?

    We will have to have stock inspected and a phytosanitary certificate issued prior to dispatch, so this will add additional cost and time into the dispatch process. We are often asked for the stock by our clients that will have to be procured in the EU, in terms of plant health inspections this could mean an inspection in the EU prior to collection, an inspection on arrival in Great Britain, an inspection prior to dispatch from Great Britain and an inspection on arrival in Northern Ireland – four inspections in one week.

    How are we preparing for these new checks and controls?

    Much time has been spent trying to understand what we will need to do – conversations with DEFRA, APHA, the HTA, and customs agents in the UK and EU. The process is complex but preparations for EU exit have always been presented to UK businesses as ‘Just get an EORI number and a customs agent and everything will be fine’ that is far from the reality of the situation.

    What are your concerns about the increased cost and health certificates?

    Plant health and biosecurity are critically important to UK horticulture, but we are finding it difficult to see the value that the required process of inspections will bring to us. The majority of the additional cost in what we are required to do will come from the phytosanitary certificates and inspections around them. We need proportionate systems, clarity of operation, administrative burden and costs kept to a minimum.

    Do you envisage issues after the transition period?

    Really difficult to say. Until we get into next year, we won’t know for sure, but we are preparing for the worst-case scenario and hoping things are better. There has to be some disruption but who knows how damaging that will be. Supply chains will definitely be slowed down and imported plants more expensive.

    Any other issues around BREXIT that are of concern?

    I am sure that in Brexit the industry will find opportunities but at the moment they are not evident, and rather than being able to focus on finding them, we seem to be scrabbing to understand what we need to do to keep trading.

    We have not been given sufficient time to prepare properly, I feel compromised and like we have little support in navigating our way through the unknown. The uncertainty of our predicament is, at times, crippling.

    Posted 11th Dec 11:44am
    Read more >

  2. Employees reach 185 years of service combined

    Employees reach 185 years of service combined

    Six members of our staff have reached 185 years of service combined.

    Head of Production and Procurement, Jonathan Whittemore, Sales Manager, Tony Coles and Spray & Irrigation Controller Wayne Atkinson have all reached 25 years of service each. While Operations Manager Steven Green and Assistant Senior Production Manager, Ian Nelson both reach 35 years.

    Our retail Sales Manager, Mark Reynard, pictured below also celebrated his 40th anniversary at the company back in June.

    To highlight their combined anniversary of long service at Johnsons, each staff member will receive a certificate and vouchers valued between £750 and £250.

    An additional 27 members of staff have racked up over 830 years combined with Johnsons Directors and Chairman having served 157 of those years between them.

    Steven Green who joined the company from leaving School said: “The variation, the chance to learn, the opportunity to travel, the people I have worked with over the years and the relationship I have with the Richardson’s who I grew up with in Whixley have all contributed to my length of service at Johnsons.”

    Ian Nelson also commented “I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to grow my career alongside the growth of the company itself. I genuinely love plants, but ultimately it is about the people you work with, and there’s always been a good team here. Retaining that spirit is precious.”

    While Jonathan Whittemore added “I have always enjoyed the people at Johnsons – we are a good bunch. The constant challenge that the company has been able to provide me has always given me enjoyment, but mostly it is working for a company of which I am incredibly proud.”

    The company’s chairman, John Richardson, said: “It is with pleasure and sincere thanks that we enjoy the real contribution made by such long-serving staff. We look forward to them being with us for many more years to come.”

    To find out more about Jonathan and Tony’s 25 years at Johnson’s click here

    You can also read about Marks 40 years here and Ian and Stevens 35 years, here

     

    Posted 11th Dec 8:50am
    Read more >

  3. 50 combined years at Johnsons, Jonathan Whittemore and Tony Coles

    50 combined years at Johnsons, Jonathan Whittemore and Tony Coles

    Congratulations to Jonathan Whittemore and Tony Coles who have reached a combined service of 50 years, see what they had to say about their time at Johnsons below:

    Jonathan Whittemore

    1.What was the date you started at Johnsons? 

    2. What was your first position within the company? 

    I came in as a management trainee – one of the first two –  I remember the interview process well; it was over two days and included meeting the whole board during the first afternoon, and then two interviews the following day.  Two highlights of that process were feeling completely out of my depth because I knew nothing about Leeds United and in one of the interviews I described bedding plant production as immoral!  I spent my first three months in the field at Endfield lifting and grading stock.

    3. What have you enjoyed most during your 25 years at Johnsons?

    I have always enjoyed the people at Johnsons – we are a good bunch – and the constant challenge that the company has been able to provide me has always given enjoyment, but mostly it is working for a company of which I am incredibly proud.

    4. Greatest career achievement? 

    If you speak to Dave Bramley he may say my greatest career achievement is still being here – he didn’t think I would last a month!  I am not sure there would be one single achievement and whilst I am still focused on developing the people and the areas for which I am responsible, I hope the best is yet to come.

    5. Looking back, what’s your favourite memory from your time here?

    Managing the production unit at Roecliffe.  I loved being responsible for that unit and being in the heart of growing plants.

    6. What do the next 25 years look like?

    Crickey, don’t ask me that now!!  With Brexit on the Horizon, it looks incredibly challenging at the moment, and to be honest, until we can get Brexit done it is difficult to look too far into the future.

    Tony Coles

    1.How did you come about working for Johnsons?

    I was working at Thorpe Tree at the time and I saw an advert in the local paper for a Sales Assistant and applied.  I remember being interviewed by Andrew and Steve Jones, and at one point they left me in Board Room with a typewriter to type a letter, one of the old metal clunky typewriters, how things have changed!

    2. Tell us about your careers pre Johnsons:

    I left school at 17 and followed my father’s footsteps and joined the Royal Navy and served 14 years, I was lucky enough to see a lot of the world, one of my Sons has also joined the RN so I am proud that 3 generations of my family have served.  I left he RN and moved up to Yorkshire with Sandra and got a part-time seasonal job at Thorpe Trees at Thorpe Underwood, before being taken on full time by the late Alistair Taylor, I was there about 1 year before I started at Johnsons of Whixley.

    3. First position at johnsons?

    Sales Assistant, in Amenity sales at that time there was only 3 of us, and quotes would normally arrive by post and sometimes fax.

    4. What are you most grateful for during your career?

    Looking back over my working life, being able to see the World whilst in Royal Navy has to be a highlight particularly 1 trip where we circumnavigated the globe visiting a variety of places.  Working at Johnsons has been a pleasure, to be still here after 25 years says it all really!

    5. Most memorable day at Johnsons?

    Some of the trips we take our customers on can get quite eventful, with customers let’s say, letting their hair down a bit!!!

    6. How has the company changed over the years?

    Wow! Massively – Everything from IT systems, Production, even sales. When I first started almost everything was paper-based, now we are using less paper, things have become more automated in lots of areas, and still evolving,  I think over the years the sales side has got a lot more demanding, we are dealing with a lot more customers, we are having to find a lot more variety of plants.  It’s great to see that some businesses are still going strong that have been using Johnsons for years, way before my time– Brambledown, S&S, Deerness (formerly Sones), Whitings. Plus I have certainly got greyer and have less hair!

    Staff members Steven Green and Ian Nelson both reached 35 years service recently also, you can find out more about their time at Johnsons here

    Posted 4th Dec 11:13am
    Read more >

  4. 70 years service between two Johnsons employees

    70 years service between two Johnsons employees

    Two members of staff have reached 70 years service combined here at Johnsons.

    Operations Manager, Steven Green and Assistant Senior Production Manager, Ian Nelson have both reached 35 years service.

    The company will highlight their long service with vouchers and certificates.

    Find out what they had to say about their time at Johnsons below:

    Ian Nelson

    1.What have you enjoyed most about your 35 years at JOW? – I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to grow my career alongside the growth of the company itself. I genuinely love plants but ultimately it is about the people you work with and there’s always been a good team here. Retaining that spirit is precious.

    2. Tell us about your career at JOW, what was your first role etc? – I remember Day 1 as a ‘middle-year’ student. Jim Bryan & myself weed-spraying – with trainers on I think….don’t tell Terry & Dave. I guess I found a niche once the then Prod Mgr, Danny E, asked me to put my brains into weed-control programmes & pest & disease control. I wanted to have the Production Manager role and was lucky enough to do that for 18 years. It has been nice to pass the role onto Rob Richardson and feel assured it’s in good hands.

    3.What has motivated you to come to work each day? – Keeping people in a job, seeing staff develop their own roles.

    4. What has your greatest accomplishment at Johnsons been? – That’s really for others to judge!!   Perversely my best (and most personally rewarding) work is probably when we’ve been struggling, having more challenging years. Perhaps those difficult times brought the team closer together and played to my strengths of ‘winging it’.

    5. Most memorable day at JOW?  – it seems funny now but at the time it wasn’t. We are going back 30+ yrs, the nursery was very different, I was driving the planting machine & right in front of the Boss (I’ve always called JMR the boss) I managed to squash the end of a 10m long aluminium irrigation pie which was hiding in the weeds. He gave me such a roasting              Those irrigation pipes were near god-like & I recall Pete Jacques burying one he’d squashed to avoid John’s wrath!!!

    Another memorable day has to be the time I was in charge of taking some staff abroad, I checked to make sure they all had their passports in the car and at the check-in desk realised I’d picked up my girlfriends passport and had to get the next flight out.

    6. If you could have chosen any other career, what and where would it have been? – a misspent youth where study and work were not part of the plan didn’t help a career. Looking back I would like to have been an architect (buildings not landscapes), have something that would be there for years & my kids could say ‘My Dad did that’ – but the only architect I know personally specialises in toilet and shower cubicles. Wouldn’t aspire to that.

    Steven Green

    1.How did you come about working for Johnsons?  I followed my Fathers footsteps, he worked for Mr Johnson in the 60s, and latterly Mr Richardson.

    We also had just short of an acre of land at home which my Father grew Roses and cut flowers for resale as well as fruit and veg, I spent what seemed like hours de-budding chrysanthemums and digging the garden, Though I expect it was much less. I worked school holidays at Johnsons nursery through the summer so knew a little of what I was letting myself in for.

    2.Did you work anywhere else prior to Johnsons?

    I worked on Alistar Taylor’s (Thorpe Trees founder) farm picking potatoes during half term, it paid really well. I also worked most weekends from 15-16 years old with a friend, we a had a window cleaning round in Whixley village which was a good cash earner but was hard work as we had to carry ladders, step ladders and buckets to every job.

    3.First position within the company?

    I started the day after I left school at johnsons and was sent trimming trees with Chris Umpleby. This did not last long as I had to wear wrist support due to breaking my wrist playing football a number of weeks earlier.  I was then sent to Whixley to work for a couple of weeks hand potting with Paul Lamb. I then spent my first years tying trees for John Walker and Dave Bramley both were excellent trainers of all aspects of life at Johnsons and horticulture.

    4.If you could have chosen another career, what would it have been?

    Other than a sports superstar I did try and get a Job with T Backhouse and Son at Hunsingore prior to leaving School as one of the few lessons I attended was woodwork, Backhouses were the local undertakers and supplied fencing posts, sheds benches as they still do now.

    5.What has made you stay at Johnsons for all these years?

    The variation, the chance to learn, the chance to travel, the people I have worked with over the years and the relationship I have with the Richardson’s who I grew up with in Whixley.

    6.Favourite memory from working here?

    Trips abroad with groups of colleagues, On one particular trip I remember Adrian Shippey looking after me on the roadside after a particularly rough crossing on the ferry.

    The company’s chairman, John Richardson, said: “It is with pleasure and sincere thanks that we enjoy the real contribution made by such long-serving staff. We look forward to them being with us for many more years to come.”

    Posted 2nd Dec 3:24pm
    Read more >

  5. December 2020 Gardening Reminders

    December 2020 Gardening Reminders

    Check out our gardening reminders for the month of December put together by chairman and horticulturist John Richardson.

    1.After long periods of November rain, often heavy, fallen leaves have become a congealed mass on lawns and many garden corners,  try and clear them away to the compost heap before they start to rot and affect so many plants such as herbaceous, alpines, low growing shrubs and plants in containers.

    2.Any plants which are now too big for their location or ‘in the wrong place’ can be safely moved, and 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.

    3.Place undercover any tender plants which have been overlooked earlier in the autumn and ensure that such plants growing in the ground are wrapped in straw and hessian, polythene is not the best material as it prevents air from getting to the plant.

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

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

    6.Lower temperatures and frost is forecast, make sure your bird feeding stations are clean and regularly refilled.  The same applies to an accessible water supply. Remember, cooked food as opposed to birdseed may well attract vermin.

    7.with long periods of rain expected, don’t forget to put a glass or plastic sheet over your alpine plants to keep off the majority of the rain.

    8.Now is a good time to plant roses, heel then in if soil conditions are not suitable for immediate planting.

    9.Before planting trees and shrubs ensure roots are moist by soaking in a bucket or similar.

    10. This month is a good time to prune Birch and Acers.  Trim the lawn edges for a quick lift!

    11. Check apples and other stored fruits for signs of rotting and throw out damaged fruit for the birds. Remove mummified fruits from the apple trees.

    12. Start Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs into growth urgently if required to flower by Christmas.

    13. Tidy up the greenhouse during inclement weather, and also prune glasshouse grown grapevines.

    14. Be ready to plant tulip bulbs after the middle of the month to reduce tulip disease (Tulip Fire).

    15. Insulate with bubble-wrap and hessian those plant containers which are to be left outside over winter, in order to prevent the pots cracking in frosty periods.

    16. Thoroughly clean and grease the lawnmower and sharpen or replace the blades.

    17. The earlier any winter digging can be done, the better, as this allows rain, snow, frost and ice to break down clods of soil and make cultivation in the spring so much easier.

     

    Posted 2nd Dec 11:07am
    Read more >

Countdown to our centenary 77 Days 17 Hours 55 Minutes 51 Seconds
See our Heritage