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Interview with John Massey of Ashwood Nurseries

Earlier this month when Tettenhall Gardening Club’s editorial team visited Ashwood’s Nursery, we asked Tony Cartwright if he could write an introduction to support Howard Drury’s talk. Tony wrote this testimonial about Howard Drury:

“Howard has had a long association with Ashwood Nurseries and has given many lectures at our gardening club. They are always of the highest standard with superb images, as well as being highly entertaining and packed full of fascinating facts.”

So, we were more than delighted when we received this wonderful exclusive Q&A from no other than John Massey himself - enjoy!

TGC John's Garden is striking for showcasing many stunning trees and conifers. What trees or conifers do you recommend as being particularly suitable for a smaller garden?

John Massey: Acer griseum is one of my favourites, beautiful peeling bark and good autumn colour. Sorbus Autumn Spire, a narrow fastigate tree golden berries and superb autumn colour. Malus Indian Magic, purple-green foliage, deep pink flowers followed by red cherry like fruits which are very long-lasting. I love conifers, Picea omorika Bruns a wonderful very narrow cultivar. Abies koreana Kohout's Ice Breaker a wonderful slow growing conifer with curled needles, a stunning silver underneath. Abies normadiana Golden Spreader, a soft golden slow growing conifer which always looks good and is trouble free.

TGC: Woodland planting features in John's Garden. What advice would you give to someone wishing to create a woodland environment. What planting would you recommend?

John Massey: Lift the canopy of your major trees so that you can underplant with smaller trees and shrubs. In turn you can lift the canopy of the shrubs and smaller trees so that you can plant bulbs and herbaceous as ground cover. With this method you are gardening on three levels which is what you tend to find in woodland. Cornus kousa cultivars, Hamamelis and Acers make excellent shrubs for the second layer, cyclamen, primula, snowdrops, winter aconites and many ferns especially Polypodiums.

TGC: What planting schemes would you recommend for year-round interest?

John Massey: Almost impossible to answer, it is so personal there are no rights or wrong in gardening. I think that every part of the garden need a time when it is stunning then you try and create interest for the rest of the seasons.

TGC: John's Garden is stunning at all times of year but is there a particular personal favourite time of year or plant that you can tell us about?

John Massey: My answer to this is always ‘Today', because I am alive and there is always plenty of exciting plants to enjoy. Always grow the plants you love, because they will grow so much better for you, don’t be afraid to move plants or rejig a bed if it doesn’t work.

Happy Gardening



Photos below courtesy of Howard Drury: Ashwood Nurseries win Gold at Chelsea Flower Show. Ashwood Nurseries pulled off a magnificent feat and delayed the flowering of their famous Hellebores by storing them in a refrigerator unit for several months and then rushing them down to the Chelsea flower in May, winning them several awards in addition to a gold medal.

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