Johnsons of Whixley, one of the UK’s largest commercial plant nurseries, opened its doors to the Yorkshire School of Garden Design (YSGD) last week for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.
Fifteen students and two lecturers from the accredited Society of Garden Designers (SGD) school visited the nursery, situated in the Vale of York, on 22 February to gain operational insight into a horticultural nursery, including its production and despatch functions.
The students were given a full guided tour of two of the nursery’s sites, incorporating the potting shed, despatch yard and nursery beds. They were also given demonstrations and advice on how to shop with the trade nursery once they have completed their course.
The visit culminated with a presentation on the history of Johnsons, which celebrated its centenary in 2021. Johnsons also provided gift bags, lunch, tea, and coffee for its guests.
The Yorkshire School of Garden, based at Harewood House and 16 miles from Johnsons’ nursery, opened its doors to students in September 2022. Earlier this month it was granted ‘Educator Status’ by The Society of Garden Designers (SGD) in recognition of its high standards of garden design education and ‘best practice’ teaching. It is one of only two educational providers in the north of England to hold SGD accreditation.
The School offers a Diploma in Garden Design, a Diploma in Planting Design from January 2024 and numerous short courses. Students at the School have access to over 100 acres of gardens filled with trees and plants from around the world.
The School’s Founder and Principal Tutor Alistair Baldwin has lectured internationally, delivering courses in China, North America and throughout the UK. He has over 25 years of experience and an international reputation as a garden designer and educator. Alistair has worked with Johnsons throughout his career and has used their plants in numerous designs.
Liz Rawlinson, principal tutor and garden designer at The Yorkshire School of Garden Design said: “What an amazing visitor experience the Johnsons team curated for the YSGD students! We cannot thank them enough.”
“Everything was supremely efficient, organised and professional, from our initial communication to the programming and the smooth running of the day itself. It really did feel like a tailor-made visit for the YSGD and we could tell just how much effort went into the logistics of our large group ‘interrupting’ a normal working day at an incredibly busy time of year.”
“The hospitality was very much appreciated, and we thank them for the personalised lunch boxes and gift bags. We especially loved the opportunity to pot up Pachysandra for the Peat Free Compost trial with Tom, it was a really lovely touch.”
“The students commented on the overwhelming sense of the scale of the operations at Johnsons and what a valuable and insightful visit it had been. They left feeling reassured they could approach Johnsons for potential future projects and more informed on how to go about doing so. “
Eleanor Richardson, marketing manager at Johnsons, said: “It was a pleasure to host students and lecturers from The Yorkshire School of Garden Design. We gave them behind-the-scenes access to the nursery, and a better understanding of production, operations and despatch as well as knowledge of the company’s history.”
“It gave us the opportunity to sell our products and service to fifteen potential new customers. We wish them every success with their course and welcome their trade applications on completion.”