RHS Master Grower: Hillview Hardy Plants

Discover the family-run nursery taking centre stage as Malvern Spring Festival’s 2023 Master Grower

Hillview Hardy Plants has been going to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival since 1988 and the family is thrilled to have their plants in the spotlight in 2023.

“Auriculas aren’t difficult to keep at all. People think they’re going to be difficult and mollycoddle them, but it’s really not necessary”

Ingrid Millington from Hillview Hardy Plants said: “We’re really proud to be asked by the RHS to be a Master Grower. We’ll be putting on a bigger display than normal and are delighted to be recognised for our knowledge and expertise.”

The RHS Master Grower scheme singles out nurseries that offer excellent customer service and propagate a high percentage of plant material themselves. Hillview Hardy Plants are focused on ethical and sustainable plant production and breed their own varieties.

Owned by John and Ingrid Millington and their daughter Sarah, the nursery has two National Collections of Auricula. They also produce border, double, show and striped cultivars, with more than 1,000 varieties of stock plants at their nursery and more than 640 available for sale.

All about auriculas

Victorian-style auricula theatres and clay pots are traditionally used to display the colourful flowers, but the Millingtons’ display at RHS Malvern Spring will have a modern twist and the family will also be on hand with lots of practical advice to help gardeners get the most from their plants.

Ingrid explained: “Auriculas aren’t difficult to keep at all. People think they’re going to be difficult and mollycoddle them, but it’s really not necessary. Generally, auriculas don’t like the summer sun or winter wet. They should only be put in an auricula theatre for showing and not for growing because they need lots of air movement. Clay pots look lovely but we advise growing auriculas in plastic pots, which can be dropped into a clay pot when they’re being displayed.” 

The seeds of a family business

John and Ingrid met while studying horticulture and set up their nursery in 1987 when daughter Sarah was five.  Their interest in auriculas started after they were approached by an elderly gardener who was giving up his collection.

“To be honest we had no grand desire to grow auriculas, but things happen for a reason and now we have rather cornered the market,” said Ingrid.

Alongside their auriculas, the Millingtons also hold National Collections of Albuca and Acanthus. They also have a wide range of other plants, including herbaceous perennials, and are well known for giving talks to gardening clubs.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.