Opening Statement

'We live plants, we love plants'; we are passionate about the environment and what we can do to enhance wildlife and reduce the negative impacts of business operations. Together with our customers, we work towards a sustainable future for our benefit and future generations.

In a nutshell

  • Adhere to and exceed all legislation relating to environmental policy and codes of practice.

  • Reduce energy and resource consumption where the business can practicably and reasonably comply with yearly reviews.

  • Minimise all forms of wastage and recycle all possible materials, thereby sending as little to the landfill as possible.

  • Use all sustainable growing media and provide information regarding this topic to our customers.

  • Stock items are sourced ethically, are beneficial to the environment, and are presented to customers in an informed manner.

  • Adopt alternative IMP strategies for controlling pests and diseases and for all operators to be highly skilled.

  • The business operators have positive influences on local biodiversity and beneficial impacts on the local and broader ecology.

  • Water stewardship and efficiency are fundamental principles we hold at the business and impart throughout the family.

  • Langthorns operates with an equal-opportunity approach to employment, and this ethos is demanded throughout the supply chain.

  • The efficiency of all matters relating to the environment is of utmost importance to the business and is expected with whomever we operate.

  • Langthorns Plantery is committed to high-quality plant growth and will endeavour to undertake all reasonable research to produce those plants in the most sustainable way possible.

  • Make a reasonable effort to stock UK-grown plants and to propagate in-house for sustainably produced plants.

  • We pledge to strive for all and any improvements outlined in our sustainability policy.

  • 'We live plants, we love plants!' and will support all those who do as well.

A collage of a garden

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And now, the depth and breadth…

1. Environment

I. Pollution

The organisation and its employees consistently review actions to reduce any possible discharge or emissions to land, watercourses, and air during the company operations.  Our telehandler has been obtained as a favourable, more efficient replacement to the previous machinery and where possible employees share commutes to minimise overall journey times.  Langthorns Plantery complies with all relevant legislation relating to environmental management and aims to exceed these targets.

II. Waste and recycling

Langthorns endeavours to recycle all materials possible with a local waste contractor, thereby minimising waste sent to landfills.  Senior management and staff aim to deliver a high standard of recycling relating to all growing materials, office waste and the staff break room.  All customers and parties in the supply chain are encouraged to reuse, repurpose, or return any non-recyclable plastic where it is fit for purpose. The Plantery policy is such that all pots are reused within the business or made available to local schools and gardening clubs for free.  This ensures that the maximum possible recyclable waste is processed with our contractor and that all pots have been utilised thoroughly in their operational lifespan.  Additionally, all plants arising and spent growing media are composted on site, and no organic material is sent to landfill. Viable composts are used within the grounds to ameliorate the land and cycle nutrients back into the local environment.

Figure 1: Langthorns waste by volume and recycle progress

III. Sustainable procurement

Materials for sale and used in production are sourced from sustainably conscientious suppliers. As a preference, wood and cardboard products bearing the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification are sourced. All cardboard used in the processing of deliveries is 100% recycled material. In addition, cardboard materials from a local supermarket are utilised to benefit customers during the transit of their purchases. Any surplus materials are recycled, and our customers expect the same behaviour.  Langthorns Plantery utilises the suppliers' consolidated shipments, where stock is held and sent out as fewer larger deliveries to limit emissions.  Plants from the supply chain are from countries with no water scarcity, as outlined by the United Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA, 2015), and preference is given to any UK-produced and sustainable products.  As far as reasonably practicable, Langthorns endeavours to produce cuttings and seed-raised stock in-house and favours UK-grown produce to increase the business sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint.

IV. Education

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff aim to share our wealth of information with customers, helping them make correct plant choices and be informed about the best methods for aftercare.  This serves the customer reasonably by enhancing their gardens and should also assist patrons in minimising their consumption of resources by adopting the best aftercare practices.

V. Resource consumption and carbon footprint

Langthorns Plantery uses very little electrical light and natural gas:  all-natural light is utilised throughout the growing structures, and supplementary heating is only provided to those plants requiring extra protection to survive the British weather in the winter period.  From a longer-term perspective, to reduce environmental impact, the business follows the guidance from the Defra' Small Business User Guide: Guidance on how to measure your greenhouse gas emissions' (Defra, 2012).

Figure 2 – Energy & emissions for Langthorns Plantery years 2015-23

Figure 3: Equivalence in Carbon (kg) per employee

Langthorns Plantery installed a solar power renewable energy source in 2023 as part of its investment to reduce its carbon footprint and reduction programme.  Further improvements & investments are under review, and introduction would be considered if conditions meet the company policy for capital return on investment.  Furthermore, items stocked for resale are made from renewable sources as much as they can meet market demands.

VI. Water efficiency

Overall, water stewardship is a crucial mindset embedded in our philosophy, and water efficiency is a fundamental cornerstone of the business, which is instructed to all of our staff.  Langthorns Plantery draws water from a borehole on site to irrigate crops. As such, rainwater collected from surfaces can soak back into the natural aquifer.  The primary method of watering is by hand by highly skilled staff; this individual watering method is labour-intensive but does mean each plant receives the correct amount of water. This minimises wastage and is an additional opportunity for crop inspections, thereby identifying and remedying any issues at the earliest stages possible.  Langthorns use automated irrigation systems to irrigate the tree lines via drippers; however, this is only done during the mornings and evenings.  This allows for better soil infiltration and water loss through evaporation. Transpiration rates are at their lowest at these times of the day (Barley, 2018).  Overhead sprinklers can also be adopted on the Plantery but only as part of the watering process for those crops or as a leaf hydrating exercise.  This is also subject to the time of the day and only if the wind speed/direction allows for its practical use.  Any leaks in the irrigation facilities and hoses are also repaired upon detection, and the watering of specimens around the site is managed on a priority basis.   Mulches are applied throughout the year, and only those trees and shrubs which could suffer are watered by hand; similar guidance is given to our customers.

2. Growing media

I. Peat

Langthorns Plantery, over the past twenty years, has conducted many experiments with suppliers on the use of peat-free composts; this has now seen us move to a selection of peat-free growing media.  However, this is still an area of concern to Langthorns and the industry, where increasing research and development is still being undertaken.  Senior management is aware of the horticultural industry's commitment to the 2030 target of being peat-free (Gov, 2010) and how this is a commercially sensitive topic.  Since 2016, we have extensively tested with various suppliers to provide peat-free composts, and we now use peat-free mediums to grow all our plants on-site. We are also making it available with a range of other peat-free products.

II. Trials

At Langthorns, we are committed to high-quality plant growth and, through conducting trials, have found many positive results.  The range of new growing materials shows many positive signs, and we believe that it is the case of finding which plant is best suited to what growing medium.  Most recently, Langthorns Plantery has decided to trial a new source of growing medium for internal use and retail sales based upon a composition of UK bracken and sheep wool  The hydroscopic properties of the compost result in better water conservation (Dalefoot Composts, 2018) and being sustainably managed in the UK will have a significantly lower ecological footprint.

III. Suppliers

Many of the composts used on-site and available for purchase are locally sourced, adding to our approach to reducing the company's carbon footprint.  Field Compost is a local Cambridgeshire-based business with whom we have a good relationship whereby we use, sell and promote their products, and all of their produce is 100% peat-free (Field Co, 2018).

3. Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Langthorns Plantery annually reviews the use of pesticides and aims to exceed legislation regarding synthetic chemical approaches to weed, pest and disease management.  The number of physical, cultural and biological controls has grown considerably over the last ten years. It will always be used as a preference and a first line of defence. In the last two years, numerous products have been used in our approach to IPM:

  1. Amblyseius andersoni (ANDERLINE) – predatory mite used to protect against two-spotted spider mite, broad mite, russet mite, carmine mite, European red mite, cyclamen mite, as well as thrip larvae (BiolineAgro, 2018).

  2. Heterohabditis spp. (EXHIBITLINE H) – nematode used in plant production against black vine weevil larvae and other soil-living larvae (Fargro, 2018)

  3. Steinernema kraussei (NEMASYS L) is a nematode used in plant production against black vine weevil larvae and other soil-living larvae, particularly effective at low temperatures (Fargro, 2018).

  4. Phytoseiulus persimilis (PHYTOLINE) is a predatory mite that actively hunts and attacks all stages of red-spotted and two-spotted spider mites (BiolineAgro, 2018).

  5. Aphidius colemani (APHILINE) is a natural parasite, a Braconid Wasp, used to protect against aphids (BiolineAgro, 2018).

  6. Bacillus subtilis (SERENADE) – Bio-fungicide containing beneficial bacteria (GrowOrganic, 2018).

  7. Encarsia formosa (ENCARLINE F) – Parasitic wasp used to control whitefly (Fargro, 2018).

  8. Aphidoletes aphidimyza (APHIDIOLINE) – Predatory midge that protects against aphids at different stages (BiolineAgro, 2018).

  9. SB INVIGORATOR – Environmentally friendly plant pesticide, mildewcide; physical mode of action (SBPI, 2018).

  10. Exhibitline Hb – nematodes - Herorhabditis bacteriophora

  11. Nemasys L – nematodes - Steinernema kraussei

  12. Nemaslug 2 – nematodes - Phasmarhabditis californica

  13. Aphidoline AA – Gall midge predator for aphids – Aphidoletes aphidimyza

  14. Aphiline Flower (FLW) Mix – a mixture of aphid parasites containing the following species: Aphidius colemaniAphidius erviAphidius matricariaeAphelinus abdominalisPraon volucre  and Ephedrus cerasicola

  15. Nematop Weevil Stop is a vine weevil trap containing nematodes on a gel of the species Steinernema carpocapsae.

  16. Chrysoline C  - predatory larvae – Green lacewing larvae Chrysoperla carnea

  17. Romeo – a yeast extract-based biofungicide

  18. Maxicrop Original – a seaweed-based biostimulant. They are usually allowed in organic production.

  19. Sluxx HP (slug bait) would generally be allowed in organic plant production.

Langthorns Plantery constantly contacts its suppliers and forums to review the best practices for controlling pests and diseases affecting product lines. It also manages IPM strategies as dictated by governing bodies.

4. Biodiversity and local ecology

Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked, and for successful environmental management, these issues need to be tackled together: It is not just a matter of helping the fauna and flora survive the changing weather, but we also need to resolve carbon footprints, recycling issues, the use of chemicals, our resource consumption and emissions all simultaneously (UNFCC, 2018).  The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2016) reported that domestic gardens account for 18% of urban land use (UK NEA, 2016), a significant figure demonstrating how different elements of horticulture will unquestionably be significant facets in preserving our ecology in the control of climate change.  

I. Encourage wildlife

Langthorns Plantery has been striving over the years to use naturalised hardy plants that attract, feed and combine to give a more biodiverse environment to benefit a wide range of birds, butterflies, bees, insects and invertebrates.  The Plantery actively increases the number of native species of trees and shrubs throughout the grounds and borders to enhance the habitats and improve the ecology.  Developing a second pond ecosystem is underway and will provide an additional natural reserve for wildlife in years to come.   Where many different genera and species are present in the nursery, we can support a rich diversity, which can be seen in the many different organisms and pollinators present at the site.  Additionally, many organic feeds are used on the grounds and in production to maintain the health of species and soils at Langthorns. Numerous bird feed stations are also present throughout the year, and we stock a range of products to enhance the ecology further afield into customers' gardens.  An approach that benefits everyone in the supply chain and local wildlife all at once.

II. Gardeners' beehives

In 2017, we saw the installation of 5 Gardeners Beehives in response to growing concerns about bee populations (DEFRA, 2014).  This has numerous advantages: pollination of plants at the nursery, the potential of honey to be harvested after year 3, the opportunity for another local business to gain access to a broader market and most importantly, help declining bee populations  (Kevin, 2018). 

5. Social and economic

I. Support of businesses, charities, and local organisations

Langthorns Plantery looks to help local schools, businesses and gardening clubs by supporting horticultural initiatives, helping to recycle, reuse and share resources, and acting as a conduit for complementary businesses, working closely with organisations such as Dunmow Fencing, actively promoting their products to our customers and who share the same ethos in sourcing sustainable materials (Dunmow Fencing, 2018). Over the years, Langthorns has also been successful in aiding the development of many young horticulturists from Writtle University and continues to support local charities with plant donations to help local good causes.

II. Training and community engagement

Each year, Langthorns invites the public to spend a weekend at Langthorns to enjoy the gardens and learn about the plants and business.  We find this a very successful method of benefiting our customers and promoting the things we aim to achieve.  Every year, we also provide pruning and masterclasses for customers to improve our customers' understanding of vital garden maintenance, and both opportunities should serve well to enhance the sustainability of the business.

III. Inclusivity

As a rural business, Langthorns Plantery is aware of rural isolation and endeavours to be where the customer is seen as part of the family and where all can upskill knowledge.  Langthorns aims to pay higher than the minimum wage and is moving towards a living wage for all its workers.  As an employer, a love of plants, trees and shrubs is the only pre-requisite to joining this horticultural business, as seen by the tagline "We Live Plants, We Love Plants".  A desire to embed yourself with the horticultural community is the only genuine commitment. 

6. Supply chain resilience

Langthorns Plantery has undertaken enquiry with all of its major suppliers, company policy relating to eradicating modern-day slavery, if any, from their supply chains and that companies are actively meeting the International Labour Organization (ILO) protocols and conventions concerning forced labour.  For organisations that come under UK regulation, we will require statements that comply with the Modern-Day Slavery Act 2015.  We will also be asking our suppliers about their use of gang masters and the policies and procedures that they have in place to ensure that they are abiding by ILO standards at a minimum.

Langthorns has reviewed and will ensure that it consistently exceeds the base code expectations set by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). A copy is available on file.

Reference List

Barley, R. (2018) Water. Or the lack of it. (Blog) Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Available at: (Accessed 10 September 2018).

BiolineAgro (2018) Amblyseius andersoni. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 8 September 2018).

BiolineAgro (2018) Aphidoline. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

BiolineAgro (2018) aphiline. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

BiolineAgro (2018) Phytoseiulus persimilis. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 8 September 2018).

Dalefoot Composts (2018) Our Products. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 10 September 2018).

Defra (2012) Small business user Guide. (Document) Defra Available at: (Accessed 10 September 2018).

DEFRA (2014) National pollinator strategy: for bees and other pollinators in England. (Publication) DEFRA Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

DunmowFencing (2018) Environmental and Sustainability Statement. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

Fargro (2018) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: (09 September 2018).

Fargro (2018) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: (09 September 2018).

Field Co (2018) The environment and our ethos. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

Gov (2010): The government calls for peat to be phased out. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 10 September 2018).

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

GrowOrganic (2018) Serenade Garden Disease Control Biofungicide. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

Kevin (2018) Welcome to 'Gardeners Beehive'. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

SBPI (2018) SB Plant Invigorator. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

UK NEA (2016) Report from the UK national ecosystem assessment: key findings. (Report) UK NEA Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

UNDESA (2015) Strengthening National Capacities to Manage Water Scarcity and Drought. (www document) Available at: (Accessed 10 September 2018).

UNFCC (2018) "Life Depends on Climate, Biodiversity Inextricable Link; Let's Defend It". (Speech) United Nations for Climate Change Available at: (Accessed 09 September 2018).

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Nematodes Direct (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Bioline Agrosciences (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Fargro (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: 

Agrigem (2024) Integrated Pest Management. (www document) Available at: