Could you start with some background on the company itself?
Readyhedge is a wholesale nursery growing instant hedging, in ready-bags and troughs. We have a 17-acre site, growing about 20 kilometres of hedging per year.
We are affiliated to companies in Ireland and the Netherlands. Here, we have 18 people full time, the firm has been going since 2003, and we have been building it up since then.
What sort of order size is normal for Readyhedge to deal with?
We can take an order of three or four right up to the hundreds. We deal with the public a little bit, but it is mainly on a wholesale basis.
Could you explain how the production process is managed?
We do all our potting in February, and the varieties come in to us as bare root. We can be selling a 1-year product, for sale in August and September. But we keep some back for a 2-year product, which means a trough will be growing for the best part of two years, and then it goes into a ready-bag. It does very much vary according to what the client wants.
From a management perspective, what are the challenges?
Keeping products clean and pest-free is the main task. Getting the growth we need by feeding and with the right amount of water, trimming at the right times, trimming at the right heights. Also, you have to deal with the weather! If you don’t have a warm, dry summer, or the winter season is the wrong temperature, you don’t get the right amount of growth.
When a customer gets in touch with you, how long does an order take to execute?
We deliver whenever suits the client. If they want it quickly, and the order is in before lunchtime on a certain day, we can deliver it the next day, providing it is in stock. It can be sent out at any time, and we tend to hold a lot of stock for each variety. People want stock ever quicker these days. Contractors, if they complete a phase of their project a bit earlier than expected, will sometimes call in the hedging earlier than planned. Sometimes we have big orders that are put in for a Wednesday in three weeks time and they require it precisely on that date – it really depends on the project.
Are there trends in terms of customer demand?
Well not really, but we have to do a lot of guesswork, becasue we have to get everything planted a year in advance. We do know roughly how much of each variety we can expect to sell each year. We produce about 5 kilometres of hedging, and it all goes every year – that is our most popular variety.
What’s your daily routine?
Good question! I’ve got staff supervisor, and I will discuss with him the night before what the plan is for the day. He will arrange the staff as he feels that he needs to. My job is to oversee everything that goes on, including quality control, the standard of the work being done out there, looking forward to plan for new potting ahead of time, making sure all the right stock comes in on time.
Is 17 acres large for this type of this business
Yes it’s very big – for the whole area to be covered in hedging. As a standard, troughs are 70cm centre to centre, and ready bags are 1.4 metres centre to centre.
This article first appeared in the February 2017 issue of Landscape Insight