GTN March 2020

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gtn MARCH 2020

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Artificials on the up Winning ways Discover what’s prompting a surge in sales

gtn MARCH 2020

GCA Conference Report & Pictures

The future of compost Steve Harper on finding a sustainable solution

The future of horticulture Spotlight on new initiative to drive interest


“What I don’t want is the industry to move to something that is at least as bad if not worse than peat”

The future of compost As garden centres do all they can to be more sustainably responsible, the hottest potato of all is growing media and peat. Steve Harper reveals what the garden industry is doing to ensure the continued supply of quality compost in these ‘Blue Planet’ enlightened times. GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer met with Steve Harper, Head of Commercial Sales and Marketing at the Greener Gardening Company (formally Bord na Mona UK), who is the lead for the industry’s Responsible Sourcing Scheme. Steve started by giving some background to the scheme. “In June 2011, the National Environment White Paper was published in which the government set a series of voluntary targets to ban the use of peat. They’d set a target for local authorities and governments to stop using it in 2015, which didn’t happen, consumers to stop by 2020 and growers to stop by 2030. A task force was set up and from that came a number of projects. Project Four, which has been developed into the Responsible Sourcing Scheme, was a way to get the industry to make sure the products we were using were responsibly sourced. “I always had a concern that we were going to replace peat with something else without knowing how good or bad that something else was. That was always the problem: It was ban peat, use peat-free products. But nobody had any real idea how good or bad those peat-free replacements were going to be. “The easy analogy is that 10 years ago we were told to switch from petrol cars to diesel cars because diesel cars did far more miles to the gallon and therefore the carbon footprint was much lower than using petrol cars. Now we’re being told to move back to petrol cars because the diesel particulates that come out of diesel cars are bad for human health, and that’s worse than the carbon difference. “What I don’t want is the industry to move to something that ultimately in 10 years’ time is at least as bad if not worse than peat. The project looks at how we measure all products equally. It doesn’t matter if it’s peat, coir, composted bark fibres, wood fibre, green compost, or whatever the raw material might be. Every time we use a different raw material, we can measure them using broadly the same criteria against each other to understand how responsible it is.”

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Steve says there are seven criteria that each product is measured against. Energy If you are harvesting peat, you’ve got tractors and machinery plus the energy that’s used in getting the product to the factory and the energy used in the factory. It’s taking all of the energy use up to the point you bag the product. Water As a planet, we’re becoming more and more water constrained. We are inside the UK but these products come from other parts of the world as well. So water becomes a big issue. Social compliance Are we producing the product in a socially compliant way? In terms of looking at how people are involved in the process. Is everybody paid a proper wage, we’re not using child labour?





Habitat and biodiversity We haven’t opened new bogs for 10 or 20 years at least. So the damage we’re doing to the habitat and biodiversity is more limiting now, but the release of carbon coming off those bogs has become more of an issue. So, biodiversity is measured and it has become part of the process. Pollution Are any of the products we are using creating pollution downstream? Renewability How renewable are these products? You go from green compost which is renewable arguably on an hourly basis within a five-year window, to peat which is renewable over a 10,000 year period. Resource Use Efficiency That’s about using recycled or by-products as opposed to using virgin products in the first instance.

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Happy Compost multi-purpose is badged as Vegan friendly as it only contains mineral plant feeds. Happy Compost Veg Growing bags are 100% organic but have animal by-products as plant feeds.

“Initially when this whole project was kicked off, carbon footprint was going to be a separate project but it was agreed by everybody at the time that it was almost impossible to be able to drill down to the carbon footprint of all the specific products. So, the energy use has become a kind of de facto alternative to the carbon footprint. It is not perfect by any stretch imagination. “It’s an industry scheme and the entities involved are manufacturers, retailers, growers, non-government organisations such as Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Plantlife, and DEFRA. “DEFRA are absolutely involved in this project. Judith Stewart, DEFRA’s Soil and Peatland Policy Specialist, has to go to the ministers and give them options in terms of which way they can go. So, she is keen

that the industry has put forward an option. The government is currently going through consultation, which got paused because of Brexit and the election, but the government wants to look at everything from the extremes of: Let’s ban peat, let’s tax peat, let’s go and educate consumers about why there are issues with peat and why they should perhaps look at other things. “The Responsible Sourcing Scheme is a different way of looking at things and I believe we should opt into that and set a responsible limit and then make that public knowledge so consumers can make an educated decision about what products they buy. “From the consumers’ perspective there aren’t necessarily enough raw materials out there to replace peat if they did introduce a blanket ban tomorrow. Even if there were the price would be so much higher than the price that we’re paying now. If compost was £10 a bag are consumers radically going to use less compost? “In some ways, it’s a crazy situation because somebody might walk into a garden centre and they’ll spend £20, £30, up to several hundred pounds buying a specimen plant. They might spend £30 or £40 buying the pot they’re going to put it in. And then they will want to spend less than a tenner to put the stuff in the pot that’s actually going to grow this plant for the next few years. The consumer’s mindset is out of kilter with how they should be thinking about this, because that growing media in the pot is arguably the most important part of this. If that doesn’t work, the pot may look great, but the plant will die. “If you go back 20-30 years ago, when multi-purpose compost was invented, all of a sudden that became the cheaper alternative to us buying a seed compost, then a potting compost, then a tub and basket compost, or a Rose Tree and Shrub compost, which all cost more because they’re the right things for doing the job as opposed to multi-purpose, which with the best will in the world is a jack of all trades because it has to be everything from seed sowing to growing a mature plant. But we’ve moved the consumer into this world where because peat was so cheap to source it’s just become Continued on page 4

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News, Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 Fax 01733 775838 THE GTN TEAM Editor: Neil Pope Associate Editor: Mike Wyatt Director: Trevor Pfeiffer Publisher: Mandy Davies Advertising: Alan Burdon Ben Greenwood HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Tel 01733 775700 or email Subscription rates UK: £145 Subscription includes a password for full access to GTN Online plus a weekly copy of GTN Bestsellers OUR PUBLISHERS GTN is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd, who also publish: * website * Weekly GTN Xtra and Pet Trade Xtra newsletters * Garden Radio * Official Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News Online – the only official guides to the garden industry’s leading annual trade show SMALL PRINT All material © Potting Shed Press 2020. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information contained in this publication is published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Potting Shed Press Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on information contained in this publication or in the event of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cessation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.

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Baytree Garden Centre’s ‘Steps to Success’ with growing media help customers choose the right compost for the right growing activity.

When you’re using any of these other raw materials. They all have individual levels of nitrogen, phosphate, potassium inside them, which they release at different rates. They also have different salt levels and different PHs. “Green compost, fantastic as it is, has a higher level of nutrients in it. It’s got a higher electrical conductivity and because it’s got a higher PH, you can only ever use say 20% in a multi-purpose. If you were producing a soil improver, you could put 100% green compost in because it’s being dug into the soil and blended, 50/50 or more with soil. It’s good organic matter. “When you focus on the big issues about peat it is renewability but then you look at other raw materials. If you look at creating wood-fibre, the process uses a huge amount of energy. Is that better than the carbon that’s been released by peat when it is dug up? When you’re using coir, it’s coming from a country where it has to be washed heavily using possible drinking water in a country that has scarce resources for its local population, for drinking water and then you have potential social compliance issues because of it’s about a third world country. Green compost possibly doesn’t have too many issues down the track. There is energy used in it, but it’s not huge. It’s completely renewable it’s a recycled product, so it should score relatively well. “Each product has issues and the whole point of the Responsible Sourcing Scheme is to measure each one of these products alongside each other and then give them a score. Since November, a number of manufacturers have started scoring their raw materials. They have to go through a calculator which is available on the Growing Media Association website and they have to score each one of their raw materials versus this calculator, create all the evidence to prove that their scores are robust and then we will go to a third party auditor, one who also audits FSC, who will come in and audit all of those scores. Once a number of companies have had their product audited the benchmarking committee inside the Responsible Sourcing Scheme will decide what is going to be a responsible score. Products that score above that can be deemed to be responsible products, scores below that can’t be deemed to be responsible. “By early summer 2020 we’ll have that responsible score. And that will allow manufacturers to then look at putting something on their bags for the season 2021. What we’re trying to do is mimic some labelling that’s regularly used in the market now and the favourite at the moment is something like the energy rating where you buy a fridge or even a house. The other thing the industry is working hard to try and do is the big question of what’s in the bag? We want to move forward by listing the core ingredients in the bag in order of percentages as with the food industry.”

we use peat as a compost it is dead simple. Peat has nothing in it, so you alter the PH, you alter the amount of nutrients available to the plant, you start with a blank canvas.

4If there are any other growing media and peat issues coming up with your customers let us know by emailing

Steve had two tips to pass on: Check what customers are planning to do with their growing media as they may well get better results and therefore more customer satisfaction by buying a product designed for a specific task at a premium price. After all the rain we’ve had this winter the best thing we should be offering multi-buys on is soil improvers. Our customers need to be digging that in to get structure and aeration back into the soil.



a commodity product. If we move into a world where we must go peat free we are going to have to pay more money. “And the problem is, other industries have started to latch onto some of the raw materials we need to access. So if you take bark as just one example, when we first started using bark as a raw material, the wood mills saw it as a waste and the fact that the horticulture industry was taking it off their hands and it wasn’t very much money to buy the bark. Over time, they’ve begun to realise that, oh, actually, they want this product and so their prices have moved up. But then over the last five to 10 years, biomass has come along and biomass wants to burn anything it can lay its hands on and bark is as burnable as anything else. Because most biomass plants that have been built over the last 5-10 years have received government subsidies in terms of the energy that they produce they can afford to pay more for the material than horticulture is prepared to pay at this point in time for that same material. “A lot of people say there’s plenty of green compost as a raw material in the UK and lots that we don’t use for growing media. When

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Spring pruning from GARDENA From hedge clippers to loppers to grass shears, GARDENA has an extensive range of cutting tools, all with a 25 year warranty, for every Spring pruning task. PRUNING HEDGES AND SHRUBS New for 2020, the GARDENA 2in1 Energy Hedge Clippers allow you to make quick, accurate cuts and also tackle tough, thick branches with just the switch of a gear, giving up to 2,5 times more cutting power. The new and improved GARDENA NatureCut Hedge Clippers have been designed for maximum comfort and convenience without compromising cutting power. The waved, non-stick steel blades guarantee a perfect cut and the ergonomically designed European beech wood FSC® handles, complete with soft buffers ensure comfortable handling at the perfect working angle.



GARDENA’s Comfort long handled grass shears make tidying lawn edges easier than ever. The long, lightweight aluminium handles allow you to cut your lawn edges without bending close to the ground. For raised lawns and beds, simply turn the cutting blades 90° to trim along the edges.

The GARDENA Starcut Telescopic lopper allows the user to prune branches up to a height of 6.5m. With an adjustable cutting angle for precise cutting of individual branches, and an innovative hook for easily removing cut-off branches from the tree crown. The 12-speed gear ratio provides noticeably more cutting power and the internal pulling strap and compact cutting head prevent tangling when cutting.

The GARDENA Battery Grass shears AccuCut Li powered by an innovative, high-performance Li-ion battery technology can help you achieve precise, neat lawn edges. Also available in a set with boxwood shrub shears, it has a battery run time of 40mins and can trim up to 700m of lawn edge per run time. The ClassicCut Li model has a tiltable handle for ergonomic trimming and can be combined with a telescopic handle and wheels for trimming in an upright position.

PRUNING DENSE UNDERGROWTH The GARDENA Slimcut pruning lopper with integrated transmission ensures optimum cutting power for both thick and thin branches. It has a zero degree opening angle for easy cutting in narrow spaces, and a lightweight height-adjustable handle for a comfortable working position.

For more information, or to view GARDENA’s range of cutting tools visit:

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Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire won outline planning permission to further extend its growing business. Work is due to commence in 2020 and is estimated to represent an investment of £2m for the Greenway family which founded, owns and runs the business. The next stage in the organisation’s development will boost the number of restaurant covers up to 500 inside and out. Extra retail space, new planteria areas, expanded kitchen facilities and 120 more car parking spaces are also included in the plans.

People News


Haskins Garden Centre confimred the acquisition of Forest Lodge Garden Centre, Garden Style and Birdworld, in Farnham. This acquisition is part of a long-term plan for Haskins to expand its group of four garden centres across the south. Forest Lodge is an award-winning garden centre and retail offering, with an impressive 300 seat restaurant. The business is located three miles south west of Farnham, directly off the A325, providing an extensive catchment including Guildford, Reading, Southampton, and Andover. The site also incorporates the retail and wholesale business, Garden Style Plant Centre.



A bid to build almost 200 homes at a garden centre site in Clacton, Essex, was unanimously rejected by councillors. The proposal to demolish St John’s Plant Centre, in Earls Hall Drive, and build new homes was shelved by Tendring District Council’s planning committee. Members raised concerns about a number of issues including the character of the homes and access issues from St John’s Road. The existing nursery buildings and glasshouses would have been bulldozed and 24 apartments, 163 homes and eight mixed commercial/residential spaces created. However, St Osyth Parish Council and angry residents opposed the development, and all nine district councillors voted to reject it.

The Klondyke Group Limited announced the acquisition of Garden Wise Plant and Garden Centre in Dumfries from Alistair and Gillian Bertram who are retiring after a long career at the site. The award winning centre in the south west of Scotland celebrates its 40th year in 2020 and becomes Klondyke’s 22nd garden centre. The centre will continue to trade under the Garden Wise name and all of the staff will be retained by Klondyke. Commenting on the acquisition David Yardley, Chief Executive of Klondyke said: “Garden Wise has been long admired by Klondyke and is a great geographical addition to the group, becoming our sixth trading centre in Scotland.”

elho has appointed two new members to its UK sales team to help the company continue its growth into 2020, as well as creating another new position. Molly Cordall joins as the new Area Sales Representative for the South East. She will be managed by Louise Hoskins who has returned from maternity leave to the position of Account Manager, where she will be managing regional sales representatives as well as overseeing key accounts.

Vitax has recruited a garden centre retail specialist to bolster its sales team as the company appoints a new area sales manager to cover Avon, Wilts, Hants and Dorset. Ross Baldock joins from Woodcote Green Garden Centre where he has spent the past 14 years as a senior manager responsible for managing the horticulture and pet care divisions.


Westland Horticulture will launch the biggest ever advertising campaign for peat-free compost this spring, investing £1.5million in a New Horizon TV campaign. Westland’s New Horizon campaign, developed under the theme “Greatest Grow on Earth”, is a celebration of growing. The campaign, which is set to reach 20 million households from April this year, forms part of Westland’s commitment to lead the move towards more sustainable growing media products and promote peat-free or heavily peat-reduced products across all its communication channels in 2020. As part of its peat reduction strategy, Westland has invested £35 million into developing peat alternatives over the past 18 years and has also spent £5 million promoting peat-free and peat reduced alternatives to consumers since 2007.

Full versions of these reports first appeared in GTN Xtra, our weekly e-newsletter mailed direct to registered email addresses to keep readers in touch with industry news as it happens. To register, send your email address to: and put ‘GTN Xtra’ in the subject line.

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PlantWorks UK, which produces biological solutions for gardening and horticulture, specialising in mycorrhizal fungi, has expanded its UK team ready for a busy 2020. Neil Acton joins the team as field sales manager for the Empathy brand in the North of the UK, his strong background in garden centre merchandising and sales makes him a great choice for working with new and existing customers, delivering advice, training and support to maximise sales opportunities for the product range.


Sustainability agenda to boost sales for Primeur Find out more from Jenny Douthwaite, Sales Director

With sustainability becoming a hot topic and setting the long-term agenda for garden retailing, 2019 was a year that saw unprecedented growth for Primeur and rightly so. The company’s garden product range made from recycled rubber tyres won multiple awards and met the needs of the ever-increasing eco-consumer. The success of 2019 culminated at Glee where Primeur showcased its full Eco-Garden range to the industry which, in turn, brought about many new sales opportunities, an overflowing order book, and more awards for its Tierra Verde planters in the Glee New Product Showcase: Best Growing Container category. The icing on the cake was Primeur becoming the first company to win the newfor-2019 Glee Eco Initiative Product Award. It is clear that the demand for recycled materials and Primeur’s products will not be going away anytime soon, and sales in this area are expected to remain buoyant as Jenny Douthwaite, Sales Director, explains: What were the 2019 highlights for Primeur? 2019 was an amazing year for our new recycled rubber garden range. We were thrilled to be awarded our second GIMA award, as well as the Sword of Excellence for our Tierra Verde Recycled Rubber Planter range. It was an amazing achievement for the team and has really helped to introduce us as a new supplier to the garden market, as well as introduce our wider Eco-Garden range. Gaining this recognition has helped us to achieve 50% year-on-year growth across our existing ranges. We are looking to build on this momentum throughout 2020 and to help us achieve our goals, we are pleased to now be working with Stax who will help us distribute our products to more customers and keep our ranges well stocked throughout the season.

How will Primeur capitalise on its 2019 success in 2020? 2020 will see the continued promotion of the Eco-Garden range which includes the modern and contemporary Tierra Verde recycled rubber self-watering planters. Available in an assortment of silhouettes, these planters offer a practical, robust and sustainable solution for the home and garden. We want our Eco Garden Border Collection to continue to push boundaries as a lightweight, environmentally friendly alternative to the standard wooden, stone and concrete borders normally seen in stores. The borders come in a range of attractive designs and colours, and as well as being really durable these borders have the added benefit of being flexible to allow the edging to adapt to the contours and curves of a garden. We will also be giving a push to our Eco Garden Stepping Stones which offer a much lighter alternative to the usual stone landscaping options, as well as being chip, crack, and mold resistant. What is Primeur’s outlook for 2020? With an increasing demand for products which are greener and more environmentally sound, we have a positive outlook going into 2020 as retailers embrace and encourage more sustainable gardening practices. Over the next year, we plan to increase our marketing directly to the consumer, to highlight the eco-friendly credentials of all our ranges. New POS will help retailers to educate their customers on how the rubber tyres are repurposed into durable, long lasting products, as well as focusing on the benefits, including being lighter, more flexible and indestructible in the garden. Retailers can also now take advantage of our new display stands which allow us to deliver these ranges fully merchandised, complete with POS allowing these to be put straight into store. We are also, as always, working on new and innovative ways to incorporate recycled materials into our products and will look to showcase these at Glee 2020, ready to launch next year. However, these products are currently under wraps, so we invite customers to come to the show in September to find out more! What do you think the future holds for the garden industry and how is Primeur rising to the challenge? The eco revolution is massive and most certainly here to stay. Mass action on climate change and pollution has become mainstream as more and more people become aware of the issues our planet faces and want to do their bit to help lower their impact. There is a new generation who are even more focused on this and we as an

Made from recycled tyres. industry must make a conscious decision to recycle, create less waste and reduce the carbon footprint. Primeur has brought to market a full range of garden products made from waste tyres which offers retailers a unique selling point when it comes to sustainability. We will constantly be developing new products to grow the range and we are always looking at ways to reduce waste out of the business. We are already focused on converting many of our doormat ranges to environmentally friendly versions, with the introduction of recycled backings and recycled materials on the mat surface. We will look to use only recycled materials for packaging where possible.

It was an amazing year for the Tierra Verde Recycled Rubber Planter range, winning major awards like the GIMA Sword of Excellence and the Glee Eco Initiative Product Award.

To find more about Primeur’s Eco Garden range, as well as how to access its new merchandising displays, please contact the team on 01274 518800 or email

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Are you sitting comfortably? In the first of a new series on LOFAssured, Richard Lewis from Hertfordshire Trading Standards explains how his organisation worked alongside LOFA to develop the scheme. “Many people are under the impression that outdoor furniture does not need to comply to standard furniture regulations,” says Richard Lewis. “UK regulations are very different to the rest of the EU – we have tougher standards in terms of fire safety than other European countries. Historically, some people have assumed outdoor furniture does not need to meet the same requirements that indoor furniture does. However, many properties these days will have outdoor furniture that is also used indoors part of the year, so it does need to comply.” The scheme that LOFA has developed in partnership with Hertfordshire Trading Standards (HTS builds on the idea of having a regulatory check specific to the outdoor furniture industry. It sits under the national Primary Authority Scheme, which was set up with a view to enabling businesses to have easy access to a single point of contact for advice and guidance on regulatory issues. While being LOFAssured is not compulsory, the laws within the upholstered furniture industry apply to everyone equally. Sadly, there is no guarantee that all manufacturers are complying with those laws. Richard continues: “It’s always worth checking with manufacturers and importers whether their outdoor furniture is fully compliant, particularly if it is noticeably cheaper than competitors’ products. Tests on imported products are not always as comprehensive as they should be; furniture should, by law, have markings on it letting consumers know it has passed UK legislation. “Retailers who want to make an informed choice can buy from LOFAssured members with the confidence that they have had third party audits to check that they are complying with regulations. Consumers who then buy those items from the retailers also get the same reassurances.

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As we step into the full swing of summer, our outdoor furniture makes a welcome reappearance. However, startling new statistics revealed that only 20% of outdoor furniture cushions sold in retail outlets conform to Fire Safety Regulations. As the industry’s trade association, the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA), in partnership with Hertfordshire Trading Standards (HTS), launched an initiative with the aim of helping retailers and consumers easily identify which cushions comply with the UK’s Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations. It’s called LOFAssured.

“The LOFAssured scheme is very much about making sure that its members are doing the right thing, and that their products are compliant with the regulations and are safe – it is a very pro-active way of going

about proving that your product does comply. If consumers aren’t 100% sure about a product, the LOFAssured tag tells them that they can be confident that there has been an independent audit of that manufacturer and their products are safe and compliant.” In order to become LOFAssured, members must undergo a strict audit. LOFA, in association with the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), approached HTS to assist in designing the audit scheme; independent experts then carry out the agreed tests. Auditors will attend manufacturer or importer’s premises, check products, materials, paperwork and records, and do a thorough examination of all procedures in place. “The process is not a one-time audit – it is repeated and is usually dependent on how easily the member passed the audit the first time. If they ticked all the boxes, there will be a slightly longer period before they are re-audited. If a few non-conformities were discovered during the inaugural audit, businesses will be given the opportunity to put them right.” Richard explains that one of the main reasons for businesses failing to comply is ignorance; not realising that both the fabric and the filling needs to be compliant. Other reasons include a lack of awareness of the difference between UK Regulations and those that apply in the rest of the EU. “In an ideal world, all furniture on the market would be compliant.” In addition to the partnership that HTS has with LOFA, there are other trading standards across the country who perform checks within their own local authorities. Much of what they find is reported to the Office for Product Safety and Standards, which then enables local authorities to investigate and, if necessary, remove the items from sale. 4For more information on obtaining LOFAssured accreditation, visit


Vision of brighter future for horticulture Last month the formation of the Young People in Horticulture Association was announced with a flurry of publicity, but what is the YPHA and what is it aiming to achieve? GTN caught up with one of the founders, Natalie Porter of Happy Plants. First of all, what you’re trying to achieve? “What we would like to achieve is a horticulture in the future which engages with a younger demographic, both in terms of its staff force and its consumers – in other words, the people who want to shop in garden centres and the people who want to work in horticulture. It is collaborative thinking across the industry, implemented step by step as micro changes in hundreds of businesses, leading to a better horticulture with a brighter future, and having a bit of fun along the way. How did the idea of the Association come about? “It was the result of a couple of conversations over a couple of years. One was from Ken Hughes who spoke at Cultivating Retail in 2018 about how the consumer that we are about to get as our shopper is a very different person who has been affected massively throughout their life by technology. They’re a person who sees themselves as a blue dot on a map and the whole world revolves around them. With the brand of horticulture that we have, and have had for a while, we can’t just assume that is going to appeal to someone whose upbringing has been so different and hasn’t had any exposure to gardening. If we look at my father’s generation, he learned from his dad. Then there are people slightly older than me, who learned from their grandfather. We can’t rely on people learning gardening from their great grandparents anymore, so we are about to hit the end of the inherited gardening hobby if we’re not proactive. “At Contact 2020, Dave Denny of the HTA presented a statistic that in a couple of years we’ll have more over-60s than we have had for a long time, and how that’s a

10 March 2020

great news for gardening because over-60s love plants and love gardening. But can we assume that everyone has this day where they wake up and turn 60 and a week later they want to plant rhododendrons? And does that continue to happen in the younger generations where they haven’t had that parent or grandparent led experience to gardening? We can’t just assume that our current brand of horticulture, that we’ve all engaged with and nurtured for a long time, is going to appeal to these people who’ve been raised so differently. “So how do we go about bringing this brand of horticulture to this person if we don’t intervene? Instead of being a 20 year old that posts pictures on Instagram, they will be a 60 year old posting pictures on Instagram, and they probably won’t look any older because the Instagram filters will get better.” Who are the other founding members? “Mollie Higginson from New Leaf Plants and Liam Cleary from The Old Railway Line Garden Centre. Molly is very sociable and came into the industry as a young person – in fact there are a lot of similarities between

us. We said: why don’t we try and get everybody together? And that was last June. “And then Liam Cleary got involved. Liam is very much in the loop with GCA activities and we knew from day one we didn’t want this initiative to be just growers – we wanted retailers involved and it to be a collaborative effort across all corners of the industry.” Who can join the Association and what are the benefits? “The Young People in Horticulture Association is open to anybody who’s working in any part of horticulture, growing or retail up to and under the age of 35. That includes restaurant managers, social media managers, market researchers and a lot of people that wouldn’t necessarily be able to indentify any plant put in front of them but still have a huge input into how we evolve the industry. “Looking at how we move the industry onto a level to appeal to a younger generation needs to involve younger people. We need the people that aren’t going to be defined by conventional thinking of how we do horticulture. We need the people that aren’t afraid to think about it differently.


“When it originally formed, we thought it might just be a network of contacts and it has already become that. We’re around 80 members now. Within that, if you asked me a question about compost, I’ve got four new people I could contact. If you ask me a question about the botany of a certain plant or the pathology of a certain plant, there are five people I could ring. “Selfishly as someone who came into the industry through my family, having contacts that are mine, that I didn’t inherit, is massively empowering. It can be a lonely place for young people if you’ve just joined the industry, especially if you’ve found your own way and you haven’t already got family contacts. “We can talk about what the problems are from our point of view. Take the weather this month. It has caused growers, retailers and social marketers different problems, and we can touch base on current issues. “It has already become more than that with the support we’re getting across the industry and with the support from within the group. People are stepping up and saying I want to take responsibility. Between Molly, Liam and I it was always going to be a bit of a stretch to man something of the size that it’s now become. Quite quickly we’ve all found people that we trust to take on other elements of the project.

“We’ve got a social media marketing manager. We’ve got a school liaison team manager, a bulletin’s team manager and a website manager, someone that’s going to post job adverts and bursery listings on the website. People have quite quickly come forward and taken on roles that have elevated the group to. a level further than we dared to dream it could be. “And then in terms of the people that we’ve attracted, in terms of Ambassadors – Pippa Greenwood, Boyd Douglas-Davies, Michael Perry the Plant Geek. The publicity that we’ve already been given on the back of having those people involved has risen the expectation.” If readers of GTN want to join how do they go about doing that? “Just send an email to yphassociation@ They don’t have to pay to join. They just need to be under 35 and in UK horticulture.”

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JOE DENHAM CEO VEGTRUG – CHAIRMAN GARDENEX What does it mean to become chairman of Gardenex? I was very humbled to be asked! When I came into the industry in 2009 I knew very little about the lawn and garden markets. My background was solidly in information technology. Gardenex were very supportive of the VegTrug business in the early days and a big part of that was filling in the gaps of my lack of knowledge! The industry has been very good to me and to be able to give back to smaller up and coming companies in the export arena is a real pleasure. The Gardenex team work extremely hard to support British business with major budget constraints. A lot of the time, the good that they do is difficult to quantify which means it is difficult to fund. If I can do anything to help, then I am really happy to do what I can. How has Gardenex helped your company VegTrug in the past? In the early days of VegTrug the support of Gardenex was crucial. Being a seasonal business we knew we had to export from day one. Gardenex organised TAP grants and support by enabling us to exhibit at key international exhibitions which we would otherwise not have been able to afford. To have seasoned industry professionals available on the next booth or on the end of the phone was invaluable to us. If we had an inquiry from a distributor or retailer, we could count on the fact that Gardenex knew who they were and could advise us on their suitability as a business partner. We had an opinion that we could trust and that is priceless when you are starting out.

With Brexit happening, you’re taking over at an interesting time for Gardenex. What are the challenges that lie ahead ? To be at the helm of a ship sailing through very stormy waters is always scary. It’s also exciting though! The reality is that for some time now nobody could predict with any certainty what was going to happen in the near future, with trade deals, border controls, tariffs, duties or exchange rates. Although the picture is just about starting to become a little clearer now it is still far from certain. Add to that the upheaval of retail disruption, shifting of business models and an uncertain consumer confidence and you have a perfect storm of uncertainty. All this means that companies need to keep a steady course and take decisions with the best available advice and information that they can get at that time. Gardenex and other trade associations are best placed to firstly gather true and trusted information and then distribute that information in a readable, understandable and succinct format that business management can understand and utilise. Amanda Sizer-Barrett and her team have more experience between them than I care to guess at and in my opinion are such a reliable source of key information that they are essential to any British business in our industry wanting to export. The Gardenex Board is a very small part of this, acting as a sounding board for ideas and to keep updating and modernising how we communicate to our members. In times of government service cuts we must try and maintain the Gardenex service to British business on ever-tightening purse strings.

Have you got some great plans for VegTrug in 2020? VegTrug continues to grow and we are introducing new and innovative products to our offerings in 2020. The National Hardware Show in the USA in May and GLEE in September are always good targets for us to show what the future holds for our product ranges. From an export perspective we still have plenty of new markets to target and we are looking forward in 2020 to signing new partners in Europe and Asia particularly. America is a massive growth region for us and we will continue to develop products that suit that market. Look out for a selfwatering VegTrug coming to market later this year!

VegTrug CEO Joe Denham took over as Chairman of Gardenex at the beginning of the year.

12 March 2020

What qualities will you bring to the role? My handsome features! Other than that a level head and an eye to future communication methods, utilisation of social media and to encourage change that reflects how modern business operates. I run three international VegTrug businesses now for the Takasho Group and I hope that I can bring that experience as a ‘hands on’ business manager to the Gardenex Board. Amanda, Charlie and the team at Gardenex do a brilliant job, but to be on the end of the phone for them as a sensible sounding board in the current economic and political environment is always helpful. I have also taken some member companies under my wing and acted as a direct mentor to them where I have been able. This is really satisfying to see young businesses in our industry thrive in very difficult times. I recently spoke at a House of Commons event for Gardenex when lobbying for the government not to cut TAP grants further than they already have. Speaking as a business owner directly to them with passion and real world experience had a direct impact on their thinking. I could tell that we were making a difference and that is priceless to our industry.


Organic way to clean patios and paths Algon Organic Path, Patio and Decking Cleaner is the organic way to clean paths, patios, and more. It’s safe for pets, wildlife, and children, and is non-toxic. It is a well-known product that customers buy repeatedly throughout the year because it’s simple to apply, works effectively and is cost effective. Algon was established in 2001 by Michael Catterall to keep exterior surfaces clean and presentable without using harsh chemicals, and quickly became a success with garden centres stocking the product. Sales have grown year on year and it regularly appears in the GTN Bestsellers charts – in fact it became the No 1 bestselling product at the end of January 2020. Algon is currently stocked in over 700 garden centres across the country and Ireland. There is a wide mix of independents from big centres such as Longacres to small outlets and buying groups such as Strikes, Blue Diamond, British Garden Centres and many more. “Our focus is always to provide a safe and natural product for the consumer,” said an Algon spokesperson. “The ingredients in Algon are high quality and organic. There are no nasty chemicals so customers can use it safely and not worry about pets or even themselves when applying.” There are many uses for Algon. It can be used on a driveway or to brighten up the exterior of a house and garden. It works wonderfully on fence panels, brickwork, patio flags, conservatories, roofs, artificial grass

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Safe for pets, wildlife and children and a wide range of materials. Application couldn’t be easier. You simply apply the non-toxic liquid to the surface with a garden sprayer, soft brush or watering can and walk away – no scrubbing or rinsing necessary. Results can last for up to

12 months and it is best used on a dry day, so it has time to soak in. Algon can prevent surfaces from becoming slippery when wet and maintain them from attracting general build up on stone, brick, wood and much more.



More information can be found on To contact Algon Ltd call 01772 823370 or email

March 2020 13


Artificials are on the up! Sales of artificial flowers, plants and trees are on the up in garden centres. Data provided from garden centre Epos systems for GTN Bestsellers indicates sales volumes grew by at least 12% last year, mainly fuelled by an ever-increasing number of product lines that are attracting sales. At Perrywood Garden Centre, Simon Bourne told GTN last year: “Every time we add to the range we increase sales. And they look so good within the displays.” Traditionally, silk artificials were aimed at indoor decoration with roses, sweet peas and poppies the flowers most often appearing in sales data. But over the past few years artificial hanging baskets, topiary, grasses and trees have really started to sell through in high volumes as customers use lifelike plants to decorate their gardens through the bleaker months of the year, without the maintenance too. How are you making the most of artificial floral decoration sales? Do you keep them all in one area or do you mix them in with other products to sell the dream? Send us your innovative merchandising ideas and we’ll feature them in future issues of GTN and GTN Xtra as we monitor this growing sector for garden centre sales.

At Webbs Wychbold they have a dedicated room for their ‘Silk Flower Collection’ which is sited adjacent to candles and indoor décor, between houseplants and garden sundries and on the way to the plantarea. They also use big artificial florals in their furniture displays to sell the dream of summer leisure.

Perrywood use artificial florals to draw customers to product displays and as they look so great it’s no surprise they sell more of their silks too.

14 March 2020

Tree Locate displayed a range of stunning artificial hanging baskets at Spring Fair 2020.


The Rise of Exceptional Silk Flowers Mezu silk flowers offer some of the most realistic, beautiful silk flowers that can be found in the market place today. The realism and authenticity of silk flowers demanded by the discerning consumer are driving factors behind the growth of this floral sector – and garden centres are increasingly the “go-to” place to purchase. The additional benefits of silk blooms, of longevity, non-allergenic properties and flexibility of use make them an attractive, cost-effective, long-term alternative to fresh flowers that can wilt quickly. Mezu is passionate about its product and the service offered to its customers – being large enough to guarantee quality control and value for money whilst being small enough to offer a highly personalised service to meet customers’ individual needs. Feedback from our customers – and their perceptive consumers – supports the ethos of Mezu’s business and today their flowers are sought after by the discerning consumer as well as set designers for theatre and stage productions, TV and filmmakers (Disney’s ‘Beauty and the

Beast’, ITV’s “Mr Selfridge and the recent Doolittle), in window displays (Harrods and Selfridges), restaurants (Conran’s Bluebird in London’s Kensington) and hotels including the new London South Place Hotel’s Secret Garden. Mezu’s extensive and ever-growing range reflects the popularity of varieties that themed on the modern Cottage garden selection of flowers including English and Hybrid tea roses, blossom, dahlias, daisies, delphiniums, hydrangeas, gerberas, hollyhock, lilac, lilies, lupins, peonies, stocks, sweet peas, wisteria and much, much more.

For more information please visit, email or call +44 (0)1248 422279.

March 2020 15


“If there was one industry I would urge people to join, it would be yours”

Huge revolution coming

With tales of daring entrepreneurship, courageous conflict zone reporting and thrilling Olympic Games triumphs, a trio of famous names brought this year’s Garden Centre Association Conference in Bristol to a glittering finale. Chairman Mike Burks had ensured that the environment and climate change were never far from the spotlight across both days of the event, so Sir Tim Smit’s address on the final morning contained much that was on message. Sir Tim, founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall, urged garden centres to see the environment crisis as a massive opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives. “You should see yourselves as being at the pointy end of a new revolution,’ he said. “You are receptacles of marvellousness,” he went on. “Be aware.” In a passionate address, Sir Tim said horticulture was “so important” to our futures and garden centres were places where grandparents and their grandchildren

could go to feel safe. He acknowledged the “astonishing impact of greenery” on wellbeing. “If there was one industry I would urge people to join, it would be yours,” he added. “There is a huge revolution coming.” Broadcaster Kate Adie CBE gave gripping insights into the challenging life of a news reporter who found herself on the front line at many of the world’s most dangerous trouble spots. Her newsreel of coverage of

major news events like the Gulf war and Tiannemen Square was a moving highlight. “You put up with what comes,” she told us, “because you have got the opportunity and fascinating objective of going to somewhere you probably don’t know and never find in the tourist brochures but where something significant is happening. And you find something perhaps that is worth telling to people back home. So you have a purpose – and it should be riveting.” Finally, double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Homes, recalled the ups and downs of a chequered athletics career, accompanied by thrilling footage of the 2004 Athens Olympics when she became only the second woman in history to win the 800m and 1500m at the same games. Dame Kelly, a former solider, is now colonel of 14 regiments and runs charities that have helped 750 sportsmen and women to transition when their sporting careers are over and introduced 300,000 disadvantaged young people to sport.


After 10 years in the book trade, Lizzie Hawker joined the Webbs of Wychbold catering team 12 months ago – and found herself on the GCA’s Catering Rising Stars programme. Her humour-rich presentation at the GCA conference earned her the audience’s vote as she emerged as this year’s clear winner in the field of five. Lizzie’s project involved the re-positioning the coffee syrups (and extending the range) to make them more visible to customers. “If they can’t see them, they’re certainly not going to ask for them,” she said. This simple idea resulted in an average 54% uplift in sales of syrups (which have an 85% profit margin) and put an extra £350 in the tills.

16 March 2020

The GCA’s Rising Stars programme sponsored by Westland gives young and less experienced garden centre employees opportunities to develop new retailing skills and boost their confidence. Feedback from the 2019 participants included innovative projects designed to boosts sales of composts, lawn care products and houseplants. Jo Wilkinson, Westland’s head of communications and insight, said participants in the 2020 programme would be expected to put sustainability at the core of their projects. Training events will include visits by inspirational figures. Applications to join this year’s project must be in by 28 Feb (email



“Plants are the reason we exist” Garden centres were urged to develop more of the ideas used so successfully to promote Christmas to help plant sales. Michael Cole, who judged the 2019 Ruxley Rose competition for outdoor planterias, told delegates: “The plants are fantastic in our garden centres but I still think there is room for more development and evolution.” Cole announced Cowells (under £4m centre category – pictured above) and Perrywood Tiptree (destination centre – below) as winners, both previous holders of the trophy. Newly-installed GCA chairman Mike Burks said: “Plants are the reason we exist so that award truly should be treasured.”

Announcing the winners of the GCA’s Christmas competition, inspectors Alyson Haywood and Andy Campbell both referenced the continuing iorovement in the industry’s retailing standards., Competition between the 19 entries in the destination centre category, won by Barton Grange, had been intense, Haywood said, with notable trends towards more animation, more home living displays and cross merchandising. Campbell, who announced Whitehall Garden Centre, Whitchurch, as winner in the garden centre category, offered his 10 Top Tips for a profitable Christmas: Promote business even when you are closed – publicise your events and menus on the web and social media, use roadside banners and keep the frontage lit Lit along the front to emphasise you are still in business. Set scene early in the customer journey – with a welcome in the car park and displays in and near the entrance and lobby. Make it easy to find stock from the display with a ‘See it, like it, buy it’ approach, possibly using coding systems to link the display and stock together, especially for categories like trees and lighting. Keep it simple – don’t overcomplicate things. For example, stage as display that explains the difference between cool white and warm white lights. Be bold – don’t hold back on going for volume. Block stock beneath your displays Offer ideas, suggestions and inspiration – for trhingsd like decorating your front door or setting up your own wreaths, or adding battery lights to liven up a glass jar. See every opportunity to sell even more… through link sales, clip strips, adapters in battery section, extra lines like Blu Tak in the gift wrap department, and so on. Tell your story clearly, concisely and consistently, with good category signage and message themes. Embrace the four main family activities – decorating the home, eating together, giving gifts and having fun. Make this Christmas one to remember – from singing penguins to nostalgia and story time events, keep the ideas flowing


2 3 4 5 6 7 Gelong Thubten, a Buddhist monk, must qualify as the GCA’s most unusual conference speaker, holding the respectful attention of a notoriously restless audience for a whole hour with a talk on mindfulness. He even took them through a short meditation. You could hear a pin drop. Given the turbulent nature of our times, he was an inspired choice, as he regaled delegates with the story of his own transition from a stress-filled business career to a life centring on helping others and taking taking mindfulness techniques into the workplace. “What I teach is very grounded in reality,” he said. Listeners came away with a deepened understanding of why mindfulness matters and how it can help you to tackle stress in the heat of the moment. You can even practice it while standing in a queue or brushing your teeth.

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Christmas winners - Barton Grange

March 2020 17


“Tell customers what you are doing about climate change” Economics guru Paul Mason had a clear message for his garden industry audience: “Tell customers what you are doing about climate change today. It is an open goal for you.” Global warming was something we should have been taught about at school, he said. The Siberian tundra was on fire for much of the time, when it should be ice. “Billions of people need food, electricity and water – and want the life that we have – so we can’t stop it now.” The climate emergency would impact on the garden industry in the form of longer growing periods, more/longer frost-free areas/periods, water shortages, weather extremes, more pests and pollinator disruption.

While the global target was for zero carbon emissions by 2050, “if we do nothing now, we will have to do more and start removing carbon from the atmosphere to ensure the continuity of human life”. The UK’s carbon emissions had declined by 43% since 1990, but Theresa May’s ‘zero carbon by 2050’ target had no policies to back it up and Labour’s aim for ‘zero net carbon by 2030’ was a pipe dream. In a world in which capital was looking for ways to invest in tackling climate change, “I could re-brand a garden centre tomorrow around the biodiversity issue alone. You are competing for business with people who want to save the planet we live on”.

Making critical environmental issues more fun Trewin Restorick’s mission in life is to make critical environmental issues more fun. As founding CEO of the visionary charity Hubub, he addresses issues like climate change, carbon footprints and global heating in a light hearted way to engage with businesses and the public. He told delegates that when he set up the charity five years ago with capital of £25,000, he decided not to talk about the environment issues but to focus on the food people eat the clothes they wear, the homes they live in and their neighbourhoods. This year the organisation’s income is about £6 million, mainly from businesses like IKEA and Starbucks, which is used to fund innovative behaviour change techniques in ways that are good for business and the environment. “Everything we do is about how you change behaviour. We all know what the right thing to do is but do we do it?,” he said. “You have to be quite clever about it.”

Bents Garden & Home

An early project involved cigarette butts, which contain plastic and are the UK’s most littered item. Smokers were invited to dispose of their butts in a bin labelled “Who is the best footballer in the world?” with one side for Rinaldo and the other for Messi. The project earned 75k Facebook likes in a day and the idea has been exported around the world. He said supermarkets increasingly concerned about plastic since the Blue Planet

St Peter’s

The following garden centres were presented with annual inspection awards: ‘Grow’ scheme e-learning award – Byrkley Park GC (Klondyke group) Most improved centre (Dick Allen Award) – Notcutts Wheatcroft, West Bridgford Creativity & innovation (Barton Grange Trophy) – Bents Garden & Home Customer service – The Old Railway Line GC Environment & community – Garden Wise Best garden products retailer (GIMA Award) – Fairways Ashbourne (under £4m) and Simpsons (destination) Indoor lifestyle – Squire’s Hersham (-£4m) and Blue Diamond East Bridgford (dest) Outdoor lifestyle – Squire’s Hersham (-£4m) and Blue Diamond East Bridgford (dest) Catering excellence – Fron Goch (-£4m) and St Peter’s/Bents (joint first, dest)

18 March 2020

TV series mobilised public opinion had made some “really silly decisions” by moving to so-called biodegradable plastics, which aren’t and which are costing them more money. Be careful about buying in succulents dressed with plastic glitter, he warned. “There are a lot of things here that on one level are scary but for you are an amazing opportunity to be an incredible part of the solution,” he said, cutting food waste, “rewilding” and planting to improve air quality among them. He thought garden centres could be places where people come together to help mitigate the problem of social isolation. With evidence that nostalgia was a growing trend in our cultural lives, garden centres could also offer young people opportunities to re-connect with old skills like growing things and enjoying nature. He believed collaboration with others on a wider scale, and not just individual action, was the key to finding progressive solutions.

The Old Railway Line

Squire’s Hersham


Garden Pride

Your local supplier As we near the end of the 2020 preseason, we take this opportunity to reflect on the success of seeing our business go from strength to strength in uncertain economic times. This year has seen the launch of our new Spring Green plastic coating colour, new products across all categories, as well as expanding our team. 2020 sees Spencer Goodall join our team. He will be looking after the South West and South Wales, and we’re very excited to have him on board with us. Due to popular demand we have also invested into new plastic coating equipment and colours, including Spring Green, which we launched at Glee 2019 alongside a whole range of new products. These have been essential in the development and growth of the

Garden Pride on site at Highdown Garden Centre, West Sussex, for the launch of their new sundries area.

modern Garden Pride. With our customer base growing and the demand for English products increasing, we have enhanced everything from our logistics to our PC systems and expanded on our teams. Emily Swaisland

Pre-season prep!

joins the internal team assisting in the office, launching marketing campaigns, liaising with customers and being head of the Glee development. We’re very excited and looking forward to a strong Spring season.

Premium Christmas Tree Stand

Proud to be a British manufacturer CELEBRATING 30 YEARS 1990-2020

01903 761222 March 2020 19


Barton Grange and Fron Goch win top awards at GCA conference The Garden Centre Association revealed the winners of its most prestigious awards at its annual conference, including its 11 Garden Centres of Excellence. The awards were presented to the winners during a ceremony at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel. Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “What a fantastic night we had celebrating our ‘Garden Centres of Excellence’ winners. All of them have shown immense dedication, hard work and enthusiasm in what they do and couldn’t be more deserving. Each and every winner is a real credit to the horticultural industry.” The full list of winners were: Garden Centres of Excellence Aylett Nurseries Barton Grange Garden Centre Bents Garden & Home Cowell’s Garden Centre East Bridgford Garden Centre Fron Goch Garden Centre Perrywood Garden Centre Tiptree Simpsons Garden Centre Stewarts Garden Centre – Christchurch The Old Railway Line Garden Centre Webbs of Wychbold Associate of the Year Farplants The Worrall Cup Squires Garden Centres Garden Centre of the Year Fron Goch Garden Centre Destination Garden Centre of the Year Barton Grange Garden Centre

20 March 2020

The Worrall Cup went to Squires Garden Centres.

Farplants won the Associate of the Year award.


Allot of love The beginning of March means spring is just around the corner and gardeners everywhere are full of ambitious growing plans. And this year, Cultivation Street – for community, school and gardens for better health - launches into its eighth year; giving away thousands of pounds in the name of nature. Sponsored by Miracle-Gro, this year’s competition is set to be the biggest national gardening year yet. Through the Cultivation Street campaign, your customers can tap into a network of community growers and even access a national network of ‘Ambassadors’, who have contacts with local school and community growing projects. These ‘Ambassadors’ are expert garden centre staff and are on hand to help with your gardening queries. Find one close to you by using our website postcode finder. As well as access to a whole load of expert knowledge, the Cultivation Street website and newsletter offer free advice, tips and resources for all green thumbs. Downloadable charts to help them get

display created using Miracle-Gro’s free bag of compost. Winner of Judge’s Choice – Selection of Miracle-Gro Products; Public Vote - £500.

organised and nature-themed colouring pages for kids are just a taste of what’s available to anyone who has a love for gardening. What’s more, you’ll find information on the 2020 competition where you could win a share of the £13,000 prize pot, in National Garden Gift Vouchers and Miracle-Gro hampers of gardening goodies. This year’s categories are: 1. School Gardens Rewards school gardens that enrich the educational environment for children. 1st prize - £1000; 2nd prize - £750; 3rd prize - £500; Two highly commended prizes of £250 each. 2. Community Gardens Rewards gardening projects bursting with community spirit, with a 1st prize - £2,000; 2nd prize - £1,000; 3rd prize - £500; Two highly commended prizes of £250 each. 3. Gardens for Better Health This category rewards gardens that have a positive impact on the mental or physical health of the local community. 1st prize £1,000; 2nd prize - £750; 3rd prize - £500; Two highly commended prizes of £250 each.

Last year’s Ambassador of the Year Gary Bissett.

4. Gro’ your Best This category rewards the most creative

5. Ambassador of the Year Cultivation Street believes in enhancing your garden centre success and celebrating the incredible staff members that make it all possible. In doing this, we give you a platform to maximise impact and make a real, tangible difference. Being at the forefront of the trade, we truly understand the hard work you do and believe that together we are stronger; introducing you to a network of supportive communities to not only ease your workload with tried and tested methods, but one in which you can thrive, inspire and grow your team to better service the next generation of gardeners. Most importantly though, we understand that one size doesn’t fit all and we work alongside you, playing to your strengths, to offer guidance that is tailored to your goals and aspirations. Our aim is to give your hard work the exposure it deserves, direction in order to develop further and incentives like that of our annual Ambassador of the Year competition to reward your ongoing accomplishments. This category rewards Garden Centre Ambassadors who have gone above and beyond for their local community and school groups with cash prizes. A total of £3000 has been allocated to this category split for multiple achievements`: 1st prize - £1000; 2nd prize - £500; 3rd prize - £300 and 12 x runners up - £100 each. 4If you would like to find out more about community gardening, you can visit to register for the competition, sponsored by Miracle-Gro, and receive a free starter pack.

March 2020 21


Kick-starting the season in style Exhibitors kick-started the 2020 spring sales season in style at Glee at Spring Fair, with suppliers reporting strong levels of enquiries from UK and overseas visitors. Buyers from independents and retail chains flocked to the NEC in Birmingham to see the latest innovations from the garden trade, and snap up stock of new products for 2020 that offer the highest levels of potential to drive retail sales this season. At Laurica Plants from Belgium, which specialises in the cultivation of bay trees, manager Elie Devisch praised the quality of visitors, pointing out that he had made seven new contacts in the space of a day. He said: “I have seen old and potential customers and met with visitors from the USA and Canada – as well as from Ireland, which is important for our market.” An upbeat mood was evident on the stand of Riverco Trading, supplier of British-made wooden garden furniture, which returned to Glee at Spring Fair for the third year. Riverco Trading owner, Peter Wootton reported that the company’s flat-packed bench pallets, which contain nine benches on a pallet with free delivery, had been a star seller at the show, with strong interest also reported in Frogsuit, a wood protection product that has been in the best-sellers list on TV shopping channel QVC. It was a successful show for Creative Products, providing the company with a platform to showcase its Creative TV services – instore merchandising solutions with built-in screens that inspire consumers and drive impulse sales. Creative Products director, Mark Hall, said one of the highest levels of enquiries had centred around its new product that won best in show at Glee at Spring Fair: double-sided, ultra-strong, reusable and waterproof Nano Gel Tape. First time exhibitor, distributed by My Gifts Trade, aimed to inspire buyers by staging dramatic ‘retail theatre’ with a range of container designs on its stand. My Gifts Trade purchasing manager, David Homer, said the company’s new-for-2020 Zayn bamboo containers, which feature fibrestone interiors for year-round rigidity and tap into the current trend for sustainable gardening solutions, attracted the highest level of interest from buyers, with orders for the company’s container portfolio secured as well. Fargro returned to Glee at Spring Fair for the second time, with the company’s representatives reporting buoyant trade throughout the exhibition. Fargro Product manager, Kieran Daly, said: “It has been a good show for us. We’ve seen a lot more

22 March 2020

The Nano Gel Tape by Creative Products picked up the top prize in this year’s Glee at Spring Fair New Products Showcase Awards, run In association with Garden Trade News. This double-sided, super sticky gel tape has many uses around the garden, garage, shed and home. It’s waterproof, incredibly adhesive and can be washed and re-used if it gets dirty. It’s a repeat of last year’s success for Creative Products, who won with Fly Away in 2019. retail buyers and florists this year, who we may not necessarily have met with at Glee in September.” Kieran reported healthy levels of interest from buyers in Fargro’s Lamela Eco range of pots, which tick the boxes for environmentally conscious retailers as they’re made from woodchip and recycled plastic and are fully recyclable at the end of their life. “Interest in sustainable pots is being driven by the indoor plant market,” Kieran explained. Other star performers on the stand included the Boskke Sky Planter, a novel upside-down hanging planter that can keep plants watered for up to two weeks, and Boskke Till Planter, which helps consumers to successfully grow kitchen herbs and houseplants with its integrated irrigation system that only requires refilling once a fortnight. At iTip, supplier of British-made iTip Handles that allow wheelbarrows to be

emptied with safety and ease, the company’s Andy Hill said Glee at Spring Fair had allowed him to meet with a “good cross-section of buyers” – from garden centres to gift shops and online retailers. Andy added: “We’ve experienced a good quality rather than quantity of visitors, who have all been looking for something really different for their retail outlets.” The handles launched last year, come in 11 colours and are already making big inroads into the gardening, equestrian and construction markets. The timing of Glee at Spring Fair was right on cue for Joseph Noblett, supplier of Christmas trees and accessories, which has exhibited for the last three years. Joseph Noblett said: “The show works for us. It’s at the right time of year, as Christmas is still fresh in everyone’s minds.” Joseph said the show had helped his business target “high end landscapers from central London” who were looking for big impact specimen trees in wooden barrels.

March 2020 23


Teamwork makes the dream work

Join the Garden Re-Leaf Day Sponsored Walk & Cycle Challenge to raise vital funds for the children’s hospice garden charity. The sixth Garden Re-Leaf Day Sponsored Walk and Cycle Challenge may only be a couple of weeks away (March 13th) but that doesn’t mean it is too late to join in! Teams and individuals from across the garden retail sector have already confirmed their place at the start-line, and you can too! The annual event, designed to raise funds for Greenfinger Charity whilst also kickstarting the gardening season, has become a popular date in the calendar and this year is set to be no different. Starting and ending at the newly acquired British Garden Centres’ Chilton Garden Centre, the walk and cycle routes will take participants on a stunning tour of the Chiltern Hills, a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Walkers can choose to explore a 10- or 20-mile route, whilst cyclists will embark upon either a 25, 50, 75 or 100km route (or as many times round the 25km route as they can muster!) that could take in the 276m elevation that enables the Chilterns to provide stunning views across Oxfordshire,

Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. A superb networking opportunity, the Garden Re-Leaf Walk and Cycle Challenge is popular with teams from across the supply chain who want to come together to enjoy some out-of-office team building. The event also welcomes individuals from a wide range of suppliers and retailers, who quickly find their ‘team’ along the way. Previous participants have confirmed that the event has seen new friendships and new business relationships forged. To date, eager teams from Hornby Whitefoot PR, Deco-Pak, Glee, GIMA, The HTA, Kelkay and Mr Fothergills have all signed up or pledged their support to take part in the sponsored walk or cycle challenge, whilst Evergreen Garden Care, Farplants and Westland have confirmed that they will be making their debut at the 2020 event. In 2019 over 100 people took part in the walk, with more showing real pedal power by taking part in the cycle challenge. However, for 2020 the Greenfingers team is hoping to far exceed these numbers.

Tickets to Greenfingers Summer Ball up for grabs To add an exciting sense of competition to this year’s Garden Re-Leaf, Greenfingers Charity has confirmed that there are two tickets to its glittering Charity Summer Ball up for grabs for the garden centre which raises the most over the Garden Re-Leaf weekend (Friday 13th – Sunday 15th March). The Greenfingers’ Charity Summer Ball has been newly introduced for 2020 and will take place at the Barton Grange Hotel on June 25th. This exclusive black-tie event will welcome over 150 guests for a night of fundraising, dining,

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Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising & Communications, said: “The Sponsored Walk and Cycle Challenge have become synonymous with Garden Re-Leaf Day, and each year we welcome more and more people to the event. This year, in what is Greenfingers 21st anniversary, we are asking the garden retail industry and others to get together with friends and colleagues to join in the fun. Whether you are walking as part of a team, or on your own, the sense of comradery and fun that keeps participants going is just superb and will help the time fly by as you complete mile after mile. We are endlessly grateful for those that participate in this fantastic event and look forward to welcoming everyone at this year’s event in just a few short weeks.” Those interested in taking on the Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk and Cycle Challenge can register by visiting www. 4To find out more about how to get involved in Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day 2020, contact the Greenfingers office on 01494 674749 or email

bubbles and networking. Tickets have recently gone on sale priced at £95 each, making this fundraising incentive even sweeter! Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising & Communications said: “From quizzes and cake sales, plantathons and café donations, to tombolas, sponsored walks and ‘going green for Greenfingers’ the efforts that our garden retail supporters undertake is just awe inspiring. This year, to make things even more exciting with a sense of friendly competition, we’d like to give the top fundraising centre two highly in-demand tickets to our forthcoming Charity Summer Ball. We hope this gesture might entice even more garden centres to get involved and connect with Garden Re-Leaf this year.”

Key retailers to headline GIMA Day Conference GIMA’s forthcoming Day Conference (19th March 2020) – open to both members and non-members – will be a must-attend for any supplier wanting to hear from two of the UK’s leading garden centres. Headlining the Day Conference will be British Garden Centres’ Phillippa Stubbs – who, along with her husband Charles, is certainly in demand having recently acquired the Hillview Group and took advantage of the Wyevale dispersal to create a 57-strong portfolio of stores. British Garden Centres is now the UK’s second largest garden centre group, and Phillippa will be using her time at the conference to talk to delegates about their plans for the future, and their expectations of the supply chain. Joining Phillippa on the agenda will be well-known garden retailer, Guy Topping, MD of Barton Grange Garden Centre. Guy will be telling delegates about his latest Flower Bowl development and sharing his thoughts on the supply base and what they need to do to keep up with retailer and consumer expectations. It has also been confirmed that Boyd Douglas Davies, the newly appointed Director of Communications at British

Garden Centres, will also be attending. It’s not just retailers however that will be leading the content for the day. Leading consumer and design trends intelligence agency, Scarlet Opus, with whom GIMA launched a collaborative partnership with in 2019, will also be giving a sneak peek into their forthcoming trends content that will be officially unveiled at the Consumer & Design Trends event on March 26th. The Day Conference, which takes place

following GIMA’s AGM (open exclusively to fully paid-up members of the trade association), is also a great opportunity to network with other GIMA members. Nonmembers will also get the chance to discuss with the team the benefits associated with becoming a member of GIMA. 4Further information about the forthcoming GIMA AGM & Day Conference can be found at

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Christmas themes for 2020

Berry Christmas Adding a splash of emerald green to a tonal red palette, where a warm burgundy pantone takes centre stage, gives this Berry Christmas theme a subtle regal feel. Traditional icons and materials such as floral garlands and red winter berries, create the foundation for this look. This theme is completed with embroidered flocked finishes and subtle accents of gold.

The showroom at Festive Productions is full of stunning Christmas displays. Find out what visitors can expect to see... What can visitors expect to see? Visitors can expect to experience an interactive, exciting and vibrant showroom made up of multiple different themes. Our themes are created using trend research which we collect through a number of different sources and forums at the beginning of the year. We collate as much trend information as possible within this time, looking at different colour ways, materials, icons and features. We then match up what we feel sits well together and aim to provide our customers with 5-10 different looks. As we are a traditional Christmas supplier, the body of each theme is always aligned with traditional Christmas icons and materials. We then incorporate trend influences throughout. There’s a wide mixture of large display, plush and table top items within each theme. As well as multiple lines of glass, acrylic, decoupage, wood, metal, clay dough and shatterproof hanging decorations. By providing our customers with a large selection of products across different categories, they have the option of either taking our themes as they are or extracting elements of each to build their own theme tailored to their individual tastes. Here at Festive, we are always aiming to inspire and excite our customers. So this year, we set up a number of photo opportunities throughout our showroom making sure that every customer through our doors goes away with a memorable experience, one which makes them look forward to visiting us again.

A December to Remember Get in the celebratory spirit this festive season and make it a December to Remember, with our iridescent surfaces and petrol effect finishes incorporated in this theme. This electric, contemporary look embodies that unmistakable New Year’s feeling with its colour changing coruscating colour palette.

Glacial Greetings Wrap up warm and get lost in the frosty magic of our Glacial Greetings theme, where you’ll find an assortment of different hand crafted characters inhabiting our frozen winter wonderland along the way. A tonal blue colour palette gives this theme its icy aesthetic. We’ve also used very subtle touches of copper to add a delicate sense of warmth to our snowflake covered dreamland.

Christmas Carnival Join in the fun with our Christmas Carnival. Take a spin in our dodgems, ride our rollercoaster, prance around on our carousel. At Festive’s interactive Christmas carnival, there’s something for everyone. Embracing a traditional Christmas colour palette, this eye catching theme is inspired by the enjoyment of Christmas markets and festive fun fairs that are widely adored by families all over the world.

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Glamorous Metallics Add some glitz and glamour to your Christmas with our Glamourous Metallics theme. High shine reflective surfaces creates this alluring, elegant look. Mercury and ombre effects create a tonal contrast across the collection, which gives an opulent and intentionally aged feel to the products. Diamond and gem detailing, typography and geometric touches further accentuates this look.

Winter Blossom Inspired by the beauty of nature, our Winter Blossom theme breaths femininity, sophistication and prestige. Its clean lines, matt ceramics and subtle geometrics are contrasted with delicate snowdrops, soft florals and organza details. Paired with gentle shapes, folded paper reindeers and dove icons, that are gilded with a rich gold finish, adds a luxurious, chic, premium touch.

Can any garden centre buyer visit your showroom to see all your products? We sell to all trade businesses including garden centres, big retail brands, large restaurants and hotel chains, independent traders, gift shops and event companies. We welcome all businesses that sell Christmas items to our showroom. How do they go about booking an appointment? They can either make an appointment through our website or get in touch with their Field Sales Manager. If they aren’t an existing customer then they can register with us online or again, contact their Field Sales Manager or our business centre. All contact details are on our website.

Coastal Christmas Discover the colourful world found across the ocean’s sandy bed with our Coastal Christmas theme. Filled with Iridescent sea creatures, our nautical, beach inspired theme is jam packed with sparkle and glimmering coastal treasures. Using an alternative Christmas colour palette, we’ve used fuchsia, purple, tonal blues and rusty gold pantones to achieve this aesthetic.

When do your designers start working on the themes for 2021? Our designers are already hard at work developing our themes for 2021. They started their development in January 2020, so they are well underway creating our themes for next year! How many people work on new designs? We have a team of nine people that work hard on the new designs. This covers initial themes and concept workings, sourcing, receiving samples, packaging as well as creating all the displays. They are involved in the process right from the beginning, right up to the point where we bring the product to the market.

Jungle Bells Get wild this winter with our on trend African safari inspired Jungle Bells theme. Full of handcrafted cute and cuddly wildlife, this theme offers an alternative Christmas look with an untraditional colour palette. Along with yellows and browns, this theme also incorporates a plethora of different animal prints including leopard and zebra.

Where and how do they get their inspiration? They visit trend forums, conduct market research, internal sales reports and use multiple other different sources of inspirations which allows them to react fast to emerging trends and influences.

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things that caught our eye at pet trade show

Discover which new products stood out at the recent PATS Sandown in Surrey. Be:Loved range from Podium Pet Products The packaging looked great, the product smelled really nice and was made with quality ingredients. This felt like a quality product ready to cater for emerging niche markets.

Waterless Dog Shampoo from Aqueos This had a nice fresh smell and useful properties for the pet owner concerned about health and hygiene. This one would fly off the shelves.

Canine Ketchup from Canine Ketchup This product is truly unique. It has distinctive packaging, which will make it stand out on the shelf.

Keto Orbiters Dog Treat from Rocketo A good accessible price for a quality product made with beneficial ingredients. Attractive packaging.

Purrsuit Whirlwind from KONG Company This was just a really cool product – cats will love it. A very robust product that will last forever.

Nibble and Nest from Norfolk Industries This product provides good enrichment for the animals at an affordable price point.

Rolled Tweed Collars from Tweedmill Textiles Unusual to get a rolled collar that is not made of leather. These were great quality, would be washable and were very nicely finished.

SPIN Interactive Slow Feeder from PetDreamHouse Eye-catching with a number of attachments. Great for use as an activity toy or to slow down feeding.

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