Mark Straver and Robin Wallis developing plant centre of excellence in Hampshire

60,000 Chelsea plants ready for loading
60,000 Chelsea plants ready for loading

Plant and tree experts Mark Straver and Robin Wallis are developing a plant centre of excellence in Hampshire.

Hortus Loci is the brain child of horticultural heavy weights Mark and Robin who between them have over 50 years experience working in UK horticulture and both of whom are 3rd generation nurserymen. Situated on a 17 acre site near Hook in Hampshire, Hortus Loci began trading in October 2011 and is a totally unique place for professional gardeners, landscapers, designers and their clients. The top 30 European landscape architects are amongst their first clients because the nursery will have the largest available range of trees, perennials, shrubs and other plants, all selected from the most expert and prestigious growers across the UK and Europe.

Mark Straver spent the past 12 years at Crocus and was responsible for a team of buyers sourcing over 5,000 plant varieties and 2,500 garden products and all aspects of profitability. Robin Wallis was company sales manager at Chichester Trees & Shrubs for 16 years, where he secured prestigious and large plant supply contracts for top UK Landscape architects and garden designers. Between them, they have sourced and grown on the plants for 36 Chelsea Flower Show gardens and their reputations within the industry speak for themselves.

This dream team have extensive and ambitious plans for their site and plan to continue to expand their team to 26 by the end of 2012. With Mark and Robin’s expertise, enthusiasm and global network of contacts the future looks not only rewarding but is also an exciting addition to the UK horticultural landscape. This unique centre will benefit not only the high end designers and head gardeners but a retail nursery for the general public will open its doors in June 2012. The trade nursery will grow plant material for the retail nursery and so quality will be guaranteed.

The site development will encompass four distinct phases:

Phase 1: From the outset the remit is to be a ‘one stop shop’ for landscape architects

Phase 2: The nursery has been set up to grow 400,000 perennials, roses and fruit trees and this will increase annually. The plants being grown are all based on landscaper’s orders and Mark and Robin’s knowledge and instincts. Mark travels continuously, scouring nurseries and plant fairs In search of interesting plants and trees and personal plant shopping for high end clients. Robin makes it all happen back at the nursery and ensures logistics run smoothly with the help of a highly skilled and hand-picked team.

The young plants are sourced and contract grown from the very best nurseries in the UK and Europe. Mark and Robin then grow these on into 3 a litre pot as a minimum size, perfect for show plants and six specially developed Hortus Loci composts will be available to ensure optimum plant health and growth. Exporting plants will be a significant part of the Hortus Loci business and currently plants are going to Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Ireland and France.

Despite just setting up business in October 2011, Hortus Loci secured contracts to source, grow on and make perfect the plants for four main avenue show gardens, a medium show garden and 10 major trade stands at Chelsea Flower show 2012. In addition to flower show gardens, large private gardens and working with designers the Hortus Loci nursery is now also supplying top garden centres including RHS Wisley and Clifton Nurseries in London.

Phase 3: Whitewater Nurseries is the retail side of Hortus Loci and by end of June 2012 it will be fully incorporated into the Hortus Loci business. Already Hortus Loci has taken over a significant part of the supply for the retail nursery.

Phase 4: Centre of Excellence (Plant Arena) building Autumn 2012 and launching Spring 2013. This concept is unique, nowhere in the UK offers this range of quality plants and products at a single site. Most nurseries and high quality growers specialise in one or two types of plants and but if a designer or landscaper wants to view and source all of the plants for a particular job, they have to visit a multitude of different suppliers which is time consuming, impractical and expensive!

Stock is supplied by a select group of approximately 40 partner nurseries on a sale or return basis, with the growers topping up or replacing stock as necessary. Agreements are in place with leading growers in each plant category. These partnerships are testament to the reputations and long standing relationships built up by Mark and Robin over many decades in the plant business.

In addition to the state of the art ‘Plant Arena’ for the trade and the retail nursery Hortus Loci will introduce a carefully selected, design-inspired range of related products such as pots, stone, lighting, and fencing -elegant and stylish additions to ensure Hortus Loci becomes a ‘one stop shop for industry professionals’