James Bruce was a Fellow of the Institute of Horticulture, having previously been a member of the Horticultural Education Association since 1934, the forerunner of the Institute of Horticulture and Chartered Institute of Horticulture. James Bruce was the Head of the Department of Horticulture at East of Scotland College, and endowed an Institute of Horticulture prize in September 1988, and an annual academic lecture, normally given at the AGM. The James Bruce Memorial Lecture takes place each year after the Institute’s AGM.

In recent years the lecture has been delivered by: David Gwyther CBE, CEO Horticultural Trades Association; Dr Simon Thornton-Wood, Director of Science & Learning, RHS; Roy Lancaster OBE, VMH, FI Hort, FLS, Lord Taylor of Holbeach CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary, Defra, the RHS Director of Horticulture and Head of Science; Linda Lennon CBE, Chief Executive and in 2015, Richard Barley MCIHort as Head of Horticulture for Kew Gardens.

We are delighted to announce that this year’s speaker for the Lecture will be John Richardson of Johnsons of Whixley Ltd.

John Richardson, Johnsons of Whixley

John grew up on a relative’s market garden near Wakefield. He was motivated to develop his interest in growing by undertaking the 2-year Diploma Horticulture course at Writtle College in Essex. There followed 6 years of practical and advisory experience in East Yorkshire, Surrey and Scotland before purchasing the 6-acre retail nursery, Johnsons of Whixley Ltd., in 1964.

The wish to increase production encouraged him to drop retail sales in 1971 and concentrate solely on sales to trade customers. Production areas jumped from 9 acres at the outset, to 65 acres in 1973, and 150 acres by 1985.

John’s 3 sons joined the company after significant work experience in the UK and Europe, each developing specific areas of the business by customer, location and format. Personal relationships were developed with landscape architects and contractors to ensure customer satisfaction. This required the increased purchasing of plants from Europe to satisfy the expanding requirements of landscape specifiers. And the move away from traditional hardy UK species.

The family are staunch supporters of the HTA and other industry promoting activities but, as garden centre groups became more assertive, Johnsons developed their own promotional activities, supported by our next generation.

John slowly handed over the reins to Andrew, Graham and Iain, assuming the title of Chairman in 2000, which enabled him to concentrate on Quality and Environmental systems, which are a fundamental activity of the company.

The company is now one of the largest suppliers of plants to the UK amenity sector.