Monthly Archives: April 2019

Millais Nurseries visit

Millais Nurseries visit (David Millais in black)

Millais Nurseries, situated in a lovely quiet setting near Churt, specialise in Rhododendrons, growing and supplying more than 800 varieties of Rhododendrons, as well as Camellias and Azaleas. The Millais family boasts a long-standing interest in Rhododendrons, going back to the early decades of the last century, but the plant nurseries were established in 1970. They have grown into what today is a thoroughly modern and impressive setup, with business conducted largely online.

A sizable group of Grayshott Gardeners were lucky to visit their colourful Plant Centre and extensive Nurseries on Wednesday. Owner David Millais and Dan, a member of his team, each headed one half of the group, taking us round the propagating tunnels with their fully-automated systems for heating, watering and ventilating the thousands of healthy-looking cuttings. It takes three years for a cutting to be turned into a rhododendron ready for sale.

Millais Nurseries generate most of their environmentally-friendly compost with the aid of a gigantic machine, which shreds and mixes a variety of plant materials into a mixture of currently 45% peat-free compost, which then gets measured out into pots, still by the same machine. There is even a machine for cleaning plant pots, based on the design of a mechanical car-wash!

A special treat was the walk around the woodland garden, full of mature rhododendrons and azaleas, flowering in many different colours and shapes. A particular striking example was a large yellow-flowering Camellia called Lois. The woodland garden is closed to the public this year for redevelopment, but is well-worth bearing in mind for a visit in May 2020.

Throughout the tour David commented and explained the different processes for propagating and growing rhododendrons, which come in a great variety of colours and sizes, and offered many useful tips for pruning and looking after these plants in our gardens.

On our way back to the Plant Centre we passed an area sheltered from the sun behind some sheeting in order to postpone their flowering. This contained plants being grown for the Chelsea Show towards the end of May. Millais Nurseries hope for a repeat of their 2016 success in gaining a Gold Medal.


For more information, including opening times and directions, please refer to the Millais Nurseries website and remember to take your membership card for a discount to Grayshott Gardeners when visiting!

Spring Show

Tulips class

The 2019 Spring Show organised by Grayshott Gardeners again proved a great success, with many entries, despite the period of freaky weather preceding the show. A total of 139 persons enjoyed the the exhibits and other attractions presented by the teams. Results and a brief report on the Shows page here, photo gallery to follow soon.

Keeper of the Queen’s gardens

Grayshott Gardeners had been looking forward to John Anderson’s talk on Royal Gardens and we were not disappointed: with nearly 5000 acres comprising the Savill Garden and the Valley Gardens as well as the private garden at Frogmore House, there was plenty to talk about, including the Park’s history and royal connections going back several centuries, John’s travels in India, Chile, Australia and South Africa to search out plants, and the highlight of having to provide the greenery decorations for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

We heard about the difficulty of balancing stress placed on the park by the 6 million visitors annually, climate change forcing the team to seek out suitable plants for future planting, and threats such as the Xylella fastidiosa bacterial pest currently devastating olive orchards in Southern Europe.

However, a series of beautiful photographs of the Woodland Gardens, seasonal garden pictures, Valley views and individual plants provided evidence of how well the gardening team is coping with the aforementioned difficulties. The opening slide of the Long Walk and Deer Park was particularly striking, and on its own sufficient temptation to visit Windsor Great Park.

John wound up his entertaining and informative talk by answering questions from the audience. More information, including opening times, is available at