Great trees, great clients, great landscapes: 10 years on
Ten years since we pulled on our allgrowth boots and one thing remains the same – our aim to support, advise and offer the best options to our clients when they are considering plant selection for their gardens, estates and landscapes.
A heart in horticulture
We started our allgrowth journey in 2008. First and foremost, we wanted to put our own stamp on the world of plant supply. Too long we had seen growers and suppliers offload the stock they wanted to sell, clearing fields they continued to replant with the same species, forms and sizes they had planted since time began. Peter Middlicott, the helmsman at allgrowth, “retired” from the nursery business in 2007, leaving with a heavy heart and a head of disenchantment. But people very rarely leave horticulture for long and the news that the lease on an established nursery plot was up for renewal was an offer too good to miss – particularly when it was a plot that Peter himself had worked on in his previous tree life 25 years’ prior.
Finely-tuned array of trees
Fast forward a few years and the allgrowth tree hub in Sandy on the Cambridgeshire/Bedfordshire border – for it is less of a nursery and more of a “tree hub”, filled with a finely-tuned array of tree stock selected and specifically sought after by clients – has been consolidated, refined and refocused to house stock across 60 acres from its original 120 acre base. Semi-mature trees and topiary, in Airpots and field-grown, flanked by trees growing under contract for prestigious planting schemes on home soil and further afield; allgrowth is a truly unique tree company.
2018, ten years on and we await the arrival of three new delivery vehicles to replenish and expand our existing fleet. We are collating daily orders full of our own large trees and topiary, complemented by shrubs sourced from our tried-and-tested network of suppliers across the UK and Europe. Contract growing, sourcing, holding specimens at our partner site in Bedford, it’s a great opportunity to stand back…..take a deep breath…and marvel at how far we’ve come. And where we’re headed, bolstered by our specialist tree team and supported by our administration back at base, is a new phase of development with new clients, new prospects and an exciting avenue of private, commercial and estate landscapes in our scope of vision.
Who’s with us for the next 10?!
All too often, we hear of nurseries and plant suppliers simply offering the varieties and plants they have readily available in production rather than the RIGHT PLANT FOR WHAT THE CUSTOMER WANTS. At allgrowth, we apply plant logic from the offset. We look at the best plants for the end game, make sure they’re available in the numbers you need and at the price that fits. We don’t just push our own stock, either. If we haven’t got the plants that fit, we’ll source the ones that do. That’s pretty unique in this game.
Often a customer will make a certain plant request, assured that what they’re asking for is the right plant for the job. We would always query why that plant has been selected – why not? There may be other alternatives that are less expensive, better suited and more likely to achieve the end result quicker and more effectively. No harm in asking, right?
For example, we were asked recently for hornbeams for a hedge at more than 1.5 metres in height, ready planted into an instant hedge in troughs. Sounds perfect? Great. Except this option was REALLY expensive. We asked: Why at this height in troughs? Answer: Because that’s what’s been specified? OK. We made them think, we planted the seed of doubt. So, they countered with an alternative. What about cutting the cost by buying in 5 litre pots? Hmm. Just two things to note here: 1) YOU try sourcing this plant in a 5 litre in the UK; 2: A bigger plant in a smaller pot? It would fall over! Instead, we thought outside the box (or the hornbeam in this case!). Why not purchase 3 no. hornbeam in 3 separate 10 litre pots? End effect – the same: A bushy instant hedge. End price? A fraction of the insta-trough solution originally sought and widely available to source at a competitive price.
Always ask WHY.
Taxus topiary at its best
Selecting, prepping and nurturing our taxus topiary is never taxing. But it’s a precise business, shaping, trimming and lovingly fine-tuning our specimens ready for lifting and potting into airpots. This allows further healthy growth, ready for their selection as grand statements in any top quality garden over the next few seasons.
Across 60 acres, our topiary troops are sturdy, dense specimens, growing in sandy soil – some 3 metres high,ready for shaping, some already trimmed into pyramids, balls, cones, layers…..chairs. Our plant range extends into Airpots and with all plants containerised on site or supplied in rootballs, options are really endless.
Should you think outside the box blight?
Box blight. A headline grabber? A scaremonger? Yes, if you plant box hedging, you might be at risk of falling foul to box blight (which is treatable, by the way). But if you choose another plant species, you might just be opening yourself up to other dilemmas. So why not think differently when you’re considering what to plant, where to plant and why you’re planting – at allgrowth, we always do.
It’s simple to avoid planting box and substituting say, Pittosporum. But one hard winter? That’s the end of your hedge. A box hedge, planted correctly, watered sufficiently and in plenty of soil, stands a great chance of thriving and creating what the customer originally planned – a wholesome, hearty hedge boundary.
How about Ilex Crenata? All well and good, but not if your hedge is in the South Eastern quarter of the country – it won’t grow on clay soil. Besides, there are less of these available and they’re more expensive.
Back to the box hedge then? Why not? Even if blight becomes a factor, this can be sprayed and controlled. Reduce the stress in the plants and feed them, and the hedge will flourish.
“How about Prunus lusitanica? We’ve got loads of these on the nursery.”
Aah yes. The Portuguese Laurel. No box blight there. But hang on….there’s still the chance of shothole, vine weevil and don’t get us started on the plant passporting and health of this and other rosaceae varieties.
We’re not obsessed with box, but we will always offer the best plant to suit what the customer is trying to achieve – and if it’s box, it’s box. Cornus could be a good hedge proposal; it’s easy to trim and coppice, it grows tightly, gives great Winter stem colour and pretty Summer flower colour. It’s vigorous. You can plant it in swathes. It’s cheap. It’s available. It works.
Keep it simple. You want an evergreen hedge? Box. A fast growing but manageable border? Box. Widely available and affordable? Box. Alternatives? Yes, plenty. Better than box? Probably not.
When we say we supply big trees, we mean REALLY big. For a landscape that wants to look finished, established and stunningly impressive from the day it is completed, large semi-mature trees are really the best option. Highly sought after, particularly as there are very few growers and suppliers of these most spectacular specimens in the UK, large trees require specialist growing knowledge, treecare, machinery, lifting equipment and trained personnel. Not only that, their selection and supply must be planned to perfection – when a large tree arrives on-site, it’s definitely a job you want right-first-time.
And that’s us. Big trees. Fantastic varieties in full splendour, here in the UK. Selected, nurtured, managed, maintained, lifted, delivered and planted – to perfection. All with the allgrowth sparkle and support throughout. The right trees, in the right place, from the right grower, for the right purpose, when and where you need them.
These big, beautiful birch trees are a case in point. Betula ermanii to a private estate in Hertfordshire.
Shrubs: A new cash and carry collaboration in Bedfordshire
Just 8 miles away from our tree nursery in Gamlingay is Savin Wholesalers, a family-run horticultural wholesaler. Fuelling the wholesale florist fraternity with cut flowers on a cash-and-carry basis since 1988, the similarities between Savins and allgrowth are immediately apparent. We both thrive on swift, comprehensive service and that good ole one-stop-shop philosophy. And guess what? We needed extra space and they’ve got space. It’s sheltered with great irrigation and it’s ideal for both Savins and allgrowth. It adds shrubs to Savin’s armoury and gives allgrowth that extra wriggle room for plant stock, extending by over 2000 shrubs as 5 and 10 litre specimens.
So, if you’re a gardener local to Bedfordshire and want to dip into allgrowth plants on a cash and carry basis, you’ll be off to Savin’s, right?! (and don’t forget it’s Valentine’s Day soon [nudge, nudge])
Trees grow in soil. They grow in the ground or you can grow them in a pot, too. You may have even seen some growing in bags. But a plastic sleeve with a texture like an egg box? Are you sure?
Yes. The AirPot. A growing system that has been in the marketplace for tree producers for over 15 years. We pride ourselves on being somewhat of a pioneer in this area and have been huge fans, promoters and growers of trees in AirPots since they first featured on the treescape in those early days.
The tech bit
The AirPot is made from recycled and (recyclable – the pot that just keeps giving!) HDPE – that’s high density polyethylene to you or I. The sleeve has dimples like an egg box and each of the dimples has a small hole at the tip of it. A tree is planted (or transplanted) into an Airpot and as the outward-growing root tips reach the dimples, their cone shapes coax them towards the holes. Once they reach the air outside, they dry off. A constant, gentle air-pruning. This teaches the root system to send out more troops in the form of oodles of lateral roots.
Why do we love ‘em?
Simple. The rate of growth and the healthy, generous and plentiful root system. Quick-growing, strong, healthy trees. Good for us – great for you.
The roots are:
- Keen to absorb water
And that means your tree is:
- Guaranteed to thrive
- Easy to establish
- Primed to grow and flourish
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what a tree grown by Allgrowth in an airpot has to say:
I was repotted in the first week of June into an AirPot. My branch troops set on their way towards the dimples and the fresh air, with lateral roots in reserve for wave after wave of healthy root growth. Peter and the allgrowth team had a quick peek inside my AirPot after 3 weeks – and LOOK! Just THREE WEEKS.
Think back a couple of months and you’ll have marvelled at one of our private gardens, a rockery to beat all rockeries and this waterside haven. Well, it’s now complete and, as we do with all of our projects, we’ve been back to check all is in order and to ensure our homeowner is happy (HINT: they are ecstatic!)
Most of our clients come to allgrowth with a canvas – sometimes blank, sometimes with part of the picture already painted. Sometimes there is a problem to solve – screening, sound-proofing, shielding. But there is always a purpose and reason – make a statement, fill a gap, create a masterpiece. And that’s where the allgrowth journey begins.
Waterside Landscape | The Customer Journey
We first learnt of the homeowner’s garden plans through a local landscaper, renowned for his garden construction in the Hertfordshire region. A knowledgeable, experienced artisan of landscaping, the landscaper reached out to allgrowth after the homeowner of the property in Letchworth shared with him his vision for a waterside landscape alongside his beautiful home.
The homeowner’s vision had key elements:
- Large trees
Large trees? That’s where we came in. The landscaper pitched his design and interpretation of the brief to the homeowner and we arranged to meet with them all at allgrowth to start their journey with us.
In the homeowner’s words, they “knew in 10 seconds” that the allgrowth birch trees would be the crowning glory. Aided and abetted in the choice of structured planting, alpines, shrubs and the birch trees by Peter at allgrowth, the landscaper had his client’s solution – all in one place.
Organically, the project developed, supported by the allgrowth team throughout.
Landscaper: “We need some herbaceous”.
allgrowth: “We’re on it”.
Herbaceous plants in colour, size, form and foliage were sourced, ordered and delivered and the ornamental planting completed.
Landscaper: “The old hedge has to go.”
allgrowth: “We’ll sort it.”
The homeowner favoured an instant taxus hedge. Sourced. Ordered. Delivered. Planted.
That’s the allgrowth way. Happy homeowners all round.
The difference a tree makes at Longsands Academy Memorial Garden
The students, staff and visitors at Longsands Academy in Cambridgeshire are in agreement – this paved area has been transformed by adding an allgrowth tree or two. The birch trees were planted as a lasting reminder of two staff who have recently passed and will serve as a great memorial to sadly-missed colleagues and mentors.
An important gesture in the School’s healing process, we received a personal message of thanks for our part in creating the memorial garden:
“The trees arrived safely and almost to the minute. They have made a very significant impact within the memorial garden. The numerous comments are best summed up by the reaction of one young pupil “They look like they’ve been there forever”. We are all sincerely grateful for your generosity and kind spirit. You did us proud.”