Millais Nurseries and the Environment

We are proud to be in the horticultural industry, growing evergreen plants which turn carbon dioxide into oxygen every day of the year. But we do so much more than that. For the last few years we have embarked upon a journey to grow plants in the most environmentally friendly way.

Rhododendrons love growing in peat, but to conserve natural habitats, we grow all our plants in a 40% reduced peat mix. Almost all our peat is sourced from the huge reserves in the Baltic where it is regenerating faster than it is harvested. Our latest mix includes 20% composted bark to aid aeration and drainage, 15% humic compost which is rich in beneficial biological and fungal organisms, and 5% coco coir fibre top dressing to aid root aeration and to eliminate chemical weed control. This must be the lowest percentage of peat of any rhododendron grower in Europe! Recently, peat-free compost has been trialled with surprisingly good results.

Apart from  INKARHO  lime tolerant Rhododendrons which are grown in Germany under licence, all our plants are British grown, and we grow nearly all here on our extensive nursery. This reduces 'plant-miles' and we grow a far superior plant compared to cheap European imports which have a habit of dying during the first year.

Over the past few seasons, the nursery has eliminated most chemical sprays. This starts with good plant selection to ensure that we only propagate healthy trouble free varieties which will perform well in our nursery and well in a garden situation. We keep plants healthy by reducing stress with many different organic products including Compost Tea which we brew fresh every 14 days or so at the nursery, Iron rich seaweed, Citrus seed oil, garlic barriers, beneficial microbes and fungi, and a range of natural plant tonics, bio-stimulants and plant invigorators. For vine weevil control we use both nematodes and a natural fungus metarhizium to search out and kill the larvae in the containers. Another natural fungus, Bacillus subtilis is proving excellent for botrytis controls under polythene.

We have switched to an organic fertilizer for all plants grown under protection, and this gives a balanced slow release feed without any scorch during spells of hot weather. We also use organic mineral fertilizers as additional liquid feeding through the growing season.

We make minimal use of expensive chlorinated mains water, as we have our own spring fed supply with its natural slow sand filters and bio-beds for improved water quality.

Our machinery consists of modern efficient diesel tractors, and a silent electric buggy to collect customer orders. We use no greenhouse heating other than our insulated propagation benches.

All old plastic pots are recycled, either back into production again, or returned to the manufacturer for remoulding. You are welcome to return any empty pots for recycling, but they must have been supplied by us originally.

We have a large operation composting green waste such as old compost, plant trimmings and leaves. This is mixed with a little horse manure and is composted and turned for more than a year before re-using in the nursery and garden where it is of huge benefit on our thin sandy soils. Successful composting means we have virtually no waste going to landfill. Our cardboard packing boxes are fully recyclable.