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, and we strive to grow plants in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Rhododendrons love growing in acidic, low pH soils which can only be achieved with some peat, but to conserve natural habitats we try to reduce our peat consumption every year. This year all our plants are grown in 65% reduced peat mix. Our peat is sourced from Bulrush, a responsible company that has pledged to extract peat only from non-designated land and to leave at least half a metre of peat in the ground after extraction to enable rehabilitation of the bog. Our latest mix includes 25% bark and woodfibre to aid aeration and drainage, 25% coco coir fibre  which aids rooting, 10% dried vegetable waste from anaerobic digesters and 5% shredded softwood top dressing which prevents weed growth and reduces watering requirements. This must be the lowest percentage peat use of any rhododendron grower in Europe! We are also extensively trialling several peat-free composts, but more research is needed first.

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 superior plant compared to cheap European imports which have been forced and can have a habit of dying during the first year.

The nursery has eliminated most chemical sprays by adopting organic principals where possible. 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 on 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 add both nematodes and garlic extract to our compost to kill the eggs and larvae. Another natural fungus, Bacillus subtilis is proving excellent for botrytis controls under polythene.

We use 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. Minute doses of copper feed and protect our plants naturally without nasty chemicals.

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 silent electric buggies to collect customer orders. We use no greenhouse heating other than our insulated propagation benches.

We have changed from black to 'taupe' plastic pots which can be recycled through many local authority waste collections. On the nursery, all pots are recycled, either back into production after sterilizing, or returned to the manufacturer for remoulding. You are welcome to return any clean 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 18 months 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.

While some of our packing boxes are recycled from other uses, all new paper and cardboard is to FSC or FSC mix standards. Our despatch boxes are recyclable, so please place in your domestic recycling bin, and our biodegradable poly bags can be re-used or composted at home.