The Art of Good Packaging

trees ready for collection

We don’t just stuff our plants into a bag…

This is a pictorial guide into how we prepare your order of trees or shrubs for despatch with our carriers. As you will see, we don’t stuff our plants into a bag or a box and hope for the best. Instead, we go to some lengths to make sure that they will unpack in perfect, undamaged condition and still nursery-fresh.

By following the packing process here, you will also be adequately prepared for what to do when you receive one of our parcels, as the unpacking process will be a straight reversal of this sequence.

trees being checked ready for packing

Check In

The plants have been brought in from the nursery and assembled against the picking list. Here the plants are ticked back against the picking list as they are about to be parcelled up to make sure that they are all there and are what they are meant to be.

bagging roots in moss

Keep Moist

The roots are bagged up and damp moss , gathered from around the nursery, is added around the roots to prevent them from drying out.

sealing the root bag

Seal Bag

The neck of the bag is now sealed to keep in the moisture and hold all the roots tightly together.

selecting a packing stick

Select a Packing Stick

A packing stick is selected that will act as a splint in the parcel to prevent branches or trunks being damaged by any trauma in transit. The packing sticks are harvested from around the nursery from stool beds or from within the shelter belts. Some were once nursery stock that did not make the grade or have become otherwise un-saleable.

packing in straw

Add Straw

Before tying in the packing stick, an initial cushioning layer of straw is distributed along the plants in the bundle.

laying packing stick in

Add Packing Stick

The packing stick is now laid into the bundle

tie in the base of the packing stick

Tie in the Base of the Packing Stick

The main role of this stick is to make sure that our customers don’t receive a parcel with the trunks in one end of the parcel and snapped off roots in the other half. That would be rather a waste of all of our efforts. To begin with, the stick is tied in tightly to the lower trunk and roots.

tie in the branches

Tie in the Branches

Now, working up the parcel, the branches are folded up and into each other over the underlying straw and then tied in. You’ll get used to seeing a lot of twine. We used to use sisal twine, which made excellent knots, but it's nigh-on impossible to find and so is all polypropylene nowadays. Very colourful though…..

continue to tie in

And Repeat

By now, the branches are hard to spot amongst the straw.

nearly there

Nearly There

The last few twiggy shoots need just as much care and often require even tighter spacing of the girdling twine.

packing a Berberis


Alongside, another order is being prepared by Bernard and this one contains a big, bushy Berberis plant which, being a Berberis, is super-prickly. It’s therefore getting an extra “overcoat” of a jute sack over the straw to prevent the spines from penetrating the packaging and stealthily stabbing an unwitting delivery man.

cutting a stick

Cut to Length

The packing stick can now be trimmed to length. We have to be very careful so as not to exceed the carriers’ maximum parcel lengths.

add a sack

Add a Sack

The bagged roots are entered into an outer protection sack. These are from a local coffee merchant/importer and are perfect for our purposes, being made from heavy-gauge jute.

add more straw

Add Straw

More straw is now added to the sack, where it will protect the roots from mechanical damage in transit (things do fall over in the backs of lorries and so we need to protect against that inevitable risk). It also provides vital thermal insulation from sub-zero air temperatures which could otherwise harm the roots and threaten the establishment of your new trees.

adding more twine

More Twine

Now the sack is tied up tightly to compress the straw and prevent the sack slipping off the parcel.

adding paper

Add Paper

This is proper brown kraft paper; you know, the original brown paper parcel paper. It’s tough, it breathes and is still perfect for our job, 65+ years on.

adding more straw

Add Straw

By now, you can write the script. Straw is added onto the paper to be the next layer of protection between the plants and the paper.

adding trees

Add the Trees

Now the bundle of trees is laid onto the paper and (repeat) more straw added.

closing parcel

Close the Parcel

Now the process can start to close up the parcel. Here extra paper is added over the top for a larger bundle of trees. This particular bundle contains 6 trees. New customers frequently receive just the one parcel for their order of say, 8, trees and wonder when the other parcels will arrive, not realising/believing that all of them could be in one parcel. Just one of the beauties of bare-root trees.

the top

The Top

Here the top of the parcel is closed in a way that contains all the straw and gives extra layers of paper to the end which might get bashed most during handling.

the bottom

The Bottom

Back to the other end now to continue closing up the paper.

back to the top

Back to the Top

You can now see the final shape taking form.

the middle

The Middle

Nearly there. Matt’s moving so quickly, his arm’s a blur. He really does have fingers – you saw those earlier.



Just one more twine wrap to go.



It’s easier to measure its length when it’s lying down on the bench than its height when it’s standing up……. We need to tell the carriers how long each parcel is.



The address label is tied on. Apart from the customer’s name and address, this has other useful information such as how it’s travelling and how many parcels are in the shipment. (It says, for instance, no. 2 of 5 parcels – very important to know that you have received everything that we sent.)



Last job is to weigh the finished parcel on the scales. If it’s over 30kg, we’ll add a warning sticker advising care when lifting but, wherever possible, we keep individual parcels down under 30kg.

courier collects trees


The parcels are then moved to the loading bay in the despatch area awaiting collection by our very helpful carriers.

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