September 14-15, Walberton

UK: Bedding and pot plant study tour

This study tour has been developed as part the AHDB funded project PO 019 ‘The bedding and pot plant centre – new product opportunities for bedding and pot plant growers’. Its primary aim is to expose newer nursery technical staff members to a wide range of businesses to provide them with an appreciation of the protected ornamentals sector within the UK. The overall theme for the two day event is resource use efficiency and will include automation in production, efficiency at dispatch, energy generation, environmental control and structural cladding materials.

The following businesses will be visited:

Cobbins Nursery is a fourth generation family run business with a mix of modern and old glasshouses and a production area of 22,000m2. The business produces a range of pot plants (begonias, cyclamen, gerberas, hydrangeas and poinsettias) and pot bedding (dahlias, fuchsias, geraniums and New Guinea impatiens). The main business customers are garden centres which are supplied product via a fleet of business owned temperature controlled vehicles.

Farplants Sales is a grower co-operative with five member nurseries, Binsted, Fleurie, Star Plants, Toddington and Walberton. Farplants is the biggest single supplier of UK container-grown outdoor plants into the garden centre sector. The Finishing Centre was opened in 2011 and covers 8,000m2. It contains 11 production lines to clean and label pots and a customer packing grid that can hold 1,500 trolleys. This scale is required to deal with the peak few weeks of the season when daily numbers can reach 1,500 goods in trolleys, 225,000 pots processed and packed and 1,800 customer bound trolleys sent out on up to 60 vehicles. The necessary IT infrastructure is all written in-house.

Roundstone Nurseries is one of the largest propagators and producers of protected ornamentals to retailers and growers in the UK. The business has developed and invested in highly mechanised production, dispatch and distribution systems over many years. The six production sites total over 18 ha with the head office Newlands site covering 9 ha. The business produces 190 million young plants and transplants 82 million plants into packs and pots to produce finished products ready for delivery into store as well as plug sales for other growers.

Hill Brothers is a fourth generation family run business dedicated to the production of high energy flowering house plants. Having moved to its current location in 1974 the business changed direction in the early 1990’s to focus almost entirely on the supply to UK supermarkets. The business produces a range of crops including begonias, flowering patio products, phalaenopsis orchids and poinsettias. The latest production facility was completed in 2014, continuing the investment programme into modern, twin walled, plastic houses. The heat requirement on-site is 60% renewable and 93% of the water used is harvested from the roofs and re-cycled.

Pinetops Nurseries Jean and Derf Paton started this family run business on the original site just outside Lymington over 40 years ago, growing crops under 1.5 ha of mobile glasshouses. Today the business has transferred to a new glasshouse unit of 2 ha on the old Efford EHS site. Within the glasshouse, crops such as poinsettias and pot lilies are grown on mobile benching while hellebores are grown outdoors. The new glasshouse unit is heated by a biomass boiler. The use of mobile benching has resulted in reduced labour costs and crop production times while improving crop quality.

Double H Nurseries is a family owned and run business. The business currently produces 1.5 million begonias, phalaenopsis orchids and pot mums and over 140,000 poinsettias and is investigating pot rose production. The site consists of over 6 ha of glasshouses with almost 3 ha of high tech glasshouse structures producing the 12cm and 9cm orchid crops. In 2015 the business commissioned a 4.9 mw biomass (wood) burning boiler large enough to heat the whole nursery most of the year round. The business turn over in total is £22 million which includes a small amount of trading.

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