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  1. Winter Interest Plants - five of our favourites

    Winter Interest Plants - five of our favourites

    Winter is full of hidden gems in the plant world from bright coloured stems to attractive buds, so we thought we would share five of our favourites.


    Cornus varieties offer great interest throughout the year but in particular during the winter months when their bare stems are visible in fiery shades of red-orange and yellow.

    For best results plant in moist moderately fertile soil in a full sun position to attain the best colour.

    Popular varieties we sell include Cornus alba ‘Sibrica’, Cornus  ‘Flaviramea’ and Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ we have a great selection from a 2L to a 10L pot.


    Skimmia Rubella is a firm favourite with their fantastic dark green elliptic leaves with panicles of redbuds showing in winter and fabulous white fragrant flowers in early spring.

    Plant in partial shade in neutral to acidic soil for best results. Avoid planting in full sun, which can cause yellowing to the leaves. A perfect addition to a patio pot or border.

    Choose varieties such as Skimmia Rubella, Skimmia Finchy and Skimmia reevesiana.


    Hellebores are compact, clump-forming perennials with dark green, leathery leaves and stunning flowers.

    A tremendous shade-loving border plant that will brighten up your garden when little else is flowering from December – March.

    It would help if you planted in partial to full shade for best results and cut back old leaves in January – February to show off new flowers.


    Hamamelis plants are covered in branches of distinctive, spider-like, fragrant flowers in red, yellow, and orange shades from January to early spring.

    Whilst slow growing this plant variety can become a large spreading shrub or small tree. A fantastic specimen plant that will make a great addition to the middle or back of a border.

    Plant in well-drained, neutral acid soil in full sun to partial shade for best results.

    Evergreen Viburnums such as tinus are a great shrub for winter interest with dark green leaves and clusters of tiny white flowers from December to April.

    A great low maintenance easy to grow shrub which can brighten a part shaded area of the garden when little else is flowering.

    Happiest in fertile, moist, well drained soil positioned in full sun – partial shade.

    Posted 18th Jan 1:58pm
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  2. Johnsons shortlisted for Family Business of the Year Award 2021

    Johnsons shortlisted for Family Business of the Year Award 2021

    We are proud to have been shortlisted for Family Business of The Year in the 2021 Family Business United Awards.

    Our 100-year-old company will have the chance to scoop the Yorkshire, regional and supreme champion titles for 2021.

    Family members who work at Johnsons include Chairman John Richardson, Group Managing Director Graham Richardson and Directors Iain and Andrew Richardson. Also on the team are Tracey Richardson and John’s grandchildren Luke, Robert, Eleanor, Paul, Shaun and Jonathan Richardson, who perform a variety of roles.

    Despite the challenges the company faced in 2020, including COVID-19, a break-in that destroyed thousands of plants and Brexit, turnover reached a remarkable £13.2 million, the second-highest figure on record. In 2020, we sold 5.3 million plants, welcomed 495 new customers, made 25 donations, completed over 10,000 quotes and made 11,000 safe deliveries throughout the UK.

    We are one of the largest commercial nursery businesses in the UK, supplying stock for high-profile schemes including the Forth Road Bridge, HS1, Royal Parks, the Athletes’ Village at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the five-star hotel Grantley Hall.

    Chairman John’s eldest grandson Luke Richardson oversees the running of the cash and carry side of the business and is a senior member of both the commercial sales team and senior management group. Thanks to Luke and his team, the cash and carry side of the business celebrated a record-breaking 2020. Since Luke took charge of the unit in 2018, sales revenue has increased by 35%.

    Robert Richardson runs the production operation, with responsibility for growing more than three million shrubs and trees annually, managing a seasonal team of up to 150.

    John’s granddaughter Eleanor Richardson is Johnsons’ first full-time staff member for marketing. She has been instrumental in raising the company’s profile via traditional and modern marketing methods, while managing the company website, social media platforms and PR.

    The company is no stranger to awards success, taking two titles at the 2019 York Press Awards – Family Business of the Year and the overall Business of the Year award.

    Graham Richardson commented: “It’s great to start 2021 with some positive news. We are incredibly proud to have been shortlisted amongst many other fantastic family businesses. It would be a great result to win, especially during our centenary year. We wish all the other businesses the best of luck and look forward to the awards evening in June.”

    Posted 7th Jan 10:51am
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  3. Helping to keep the nation planting - lockdown III

    Helping to keep the nation planting - lockdown III

    After the recent news of another lockdown in England, we would like to confirm that we remain open under the Government’s guidelines. We will continue helping the nation to keep planting, supplying shrubs, hedging, herbaceous and trees safely.

    Our business is a key supplier into the construction industry, operates as a manufacturing entity within the Agricultural Sector and supplies Garden Centres that are remaining open and are classified as ‘essential retail’.

    We are continually monitoring the Government’s advice and continue to undertake measures as recommended for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers.

    We thank you for your support and custom in 2020 and assure you of our best intentions at all times in 2021.

    Should we be able to assist in any way please do not hesitate to speak with your usual contact or any member of the Johnsons team.

    You can read our full Covid-19 notice here

    Posted 5th Jan 10:55am
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  4. What to do in the garden this January - 2021

    What to do in the garden this January - 2021

    Another year has been and gone and with another lockdown just announced there’s plenty of jobs you can be doing in the garden this month.

    Check out our January garden reminders put together by horticulturalist and Chairman, John Richardson.

    1) In rock gardens and raised beds to ensure that fallen leaves have been removed in order to prevent Botrytis as they rot down.

    2) Brush snow off conifers and heathers if there is heavy snowfall, in order to prevent branches being broken.

    3) Plant some lilies in deep pots and keep in the greenhouse ready for transfer to the flower border when the flowers develop.

    4) Make sure the hellebores have been tidied up with the removal of all the old leaves to make way for the new flowers, which will arise very shortly.

    5) When the weather is too cold to do much else, turn the compost heap sides to middle and top to bottom in order to ensure the compost is evenly rotted down.

    6) Continue to plant new fruit trees and bushes when conditions allow and apply a 12cm thick mulch of well-rotted compost to the root zone, allowing a 10cm space between compost and the trunk or stems to prevent future stem rot.

    7) Take root cuttings of a wide range of plant species by lifting the root system and selecting a few roots the thickness of a little finger and 8-10cm long. Cut the top horizontal and the base diagonal to prevent confusion. Plant in the compost a couple of cms. below the surface and cover with approx. 2cm of sharp sand. Place in a cold frame or frost-free glasshouse for the rest pf the winter. New shoots should begin to appear in early spring.

    8) Spray fruit trees and bushes with a tar-oil winter wash to kill overwintered aphid eggs. Do not spray in frosty or windy weather and protect evergreens or lawns in the area as they are subject to being burned by the spray. It will also kill moss and lichen.

    9) Prune wisterias, cutting back all but required extension shoots. The reason for the 2-stage pruning is to concentrate nutrients in the shoots to aid the formation of flower buds.

    10) Mid-winter is the best time to take chrysanthemum cuttings as they root easily.

    11) Prune established fruit trees other than damsons and cherries. Prune newly planted fruit trees to shape and reduce leading shoots by half.

    12) Dead-head winter flowering pansies to ensure they continue to flower freely.

    13) If you need to move a shrub which has outgrown its space, dig around the plant with a vertical spade to a depth of 45-60cm and then use the spade to cut under the roots from all sides until the rootball is free. Ease a piece of thick polythene under the root system and drag it out of the hole, to its new location. Once firmly in place, fill backspace around the rootball, firm the soil by treading it in, and water thoroughly to eliminate air pockets.

    14) Prune out old fruiting canes on autumn fruiting raspberries down to soil level. Remove a quarter of the old branches to the base to encourage strong new growth.

    15) Before you start clearing leaves or forking over bare areas check for bulbs which have started growing and are just below the surface.

    16) Check the plant labels on plants around the garden, many will have faded or broken.

    17)Now the garden is bare, take an objective look around from all angles and consider if an ornament, seating or a structure of some sort would add to the interest.

    18) If hard weather is forecast, wrap up tender plants such as Agapanthus in bracken or straw for added protection.

    19) Mark areas in which bulbs come into flower with twigs so that future cultivations can be made safely. They will be easier to find if you wish to move them at a later date.

    Click here to view other hints and tips for the rest of the year

    Posted 5th Jan 9:34am
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