A comprehensive new growing media solutions package – Levington Advance Solutions – optimises the design and production of quality customised mixes to suit customers’ individual requirements.
For simplicity, it is neatly divided into three areas – grow, nurture and protect.
- Grow - the growing media structure.
- Nurture - the precision nutrition element.
- Protect - choice of conventional and biological plant protection products.
Amethyst – stunning displays offering lasting colour & low maintenance
Nigel Fox and his team at Amethyst Horticulture in Kent produce, supply, install and maintain an impressive array of premium quality free standing floral planters as well as fixed containers and hanging baskets. With a loyal customer base, the company supplies local authorities through England, Scotland and Wales. These long lasting floral displays are a regular feature of the upmarket borough of Wimbledon and brought colour to a number of boroughs surrounding the Olympic Park in 2012.
Providing constant colour through to the first frosts of autumn, Nigel has designed his floral displays to be low maintenance through the careful selection of varieties, nutrition and water management programmes. The planters and containers are a registered design manufactured from tough high quality recycled plastic with integral reservoirs offering simplicity and efficiency.
Nigel started the business in 1990 on rented land at Lynsted and 25 years on has built a thriving business operating from his Sittingbourne nursery and operates throughout the UK with distributors in North America and Europe.
He remains loyal to Levington growing media citing its reliability, consistency and quality as the reasons. Working with Jackie Hall, ICL area sales manager for the South East, the Amethyst production team relies on three mixes, one for bedding, another for making up baskets and planters and a third for shrub production.
Quality bedding production
To get the 2 million bedding plants off to the best start, the team rely on a Levington Advance Solutions programme.
Grow: The peat based growing media is diluted with coir and Fibagro wood fibre.
Nurture: Providing a complete nutrition programme, the customised mix contains Osmocote Bloom at 2kg/cu metre. “With 2-3 month longevity, Osmocote Bloom provides total nutrition for fast turn around crops such as bedding,” says Nigel. “The small granule size makes it ideally suited to small pot, cell trays and polystyrene packs. For bedding production, Osmocote Bloom is more cost effective than other products in the Osmocote range.
“The results have been very good, the plant uniformity and quality is excellent and the plants have matured more quickly than usual.”
The nursery grows a vast range of bedding from plugs grown in the UK and the Netherlands. The range includes Geraniums, Petunias, Surfinias, Verbena, Begonia and Marigolds. To keep the floral displays interesting the team constantly trial and assess new varieties - this year has included Verbena EnduraScape from Ball Seeds and Bidens from Delamore.
“We trial for vigour and flowering time and prefer self cleaning varieties which look after themselves,” says Nigel. “Like our Levington Advance Solutions growing media and nutrition programmes, we select varieties that will last well in to the autumn with minimal maintenance.”
Quality planters offering season long colour
Planting up starts in April.
Grow: The planters are filled with a Levington Advance growing media mix comprising 80% of a blend of medium coarse peat plus 20% Fibagro – ICL’s quality wood fibre product offering cost effective peat reduction without compromising quality.
Nurture: Following careful analysis of the water supply, and taking in to account Amethyst’s objectives, ICL’s AngelaWeb precision nutrition programme recommended switching from standard Osmocote (5-6 month) to Osmocote Hi.End with 8-9 month longevity. A fourth generation Osmocote product, 25% of the granules are dual coated offering programmed release. The delayed start encourages strong early rooting. Nutrient release then increases through subsequent months delivering more when plants’ demands are higher.
With low maintenance a key objective, the need for supplementary feeding is minimised. Amethyst provides flexible and bespoke maintenance options for customers. In the SE region, taking in to account the hard water, the team relies on Peters Excel ‘Acidifier’ for hard water and ICL’s new Universol Hard Water pH Control water soluble fertilizers.
Protect: Inclusion of H2Gro water management granules in the Levington Advanced Solutions mix ensures water spreads evenly throughout the growing media, promoting good early establishment. H2Gro helps to minimise nutrient leaching and confers a range of benefits though the season, including providing an additional 24-48 hour buffer to the two-weekly watering regime. Amethyst planters, containers and baskets feature design registered integral reservoirs - once filled and saturated they only require topping up every two weeks.
Staying with the theme of high quality but low maintenance, Amethyst chooses to simplify aphid control using Exemptor, ready mixed in to the growing media – another option in the growing portfolio of Levington Advance Solutions.