Page 1


Pet extravaganza

Marathon Man

Find out what caught our eye at the big PATS exhibition p30

Glee event director Matthew Mein gets industry moving p6


It’s all about plants Picture spotlights on the major nursery open days p18-19

Advice and information for garden centre professionals

april 2017

tea break at castle Gardens

Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day PIcture sPecIal

He’s back!

Analysis on the return of Nicholas Marshall...p4

Mike Burks on the secrets of success

Easter egg-citing Leisure merchandising ideas

the tOP IntervIews People in the news


“We are not a family business. Our business is focussed around the community”

Tea break at Castle Gardens

Mike Burks reveals why it’s important to involve the community in his award-winning business. “We are not a family business. Our business is focussed around the community.” That’s the response GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer got from Mike Burks at the GCA Conference when he enquired about running a GTN Generation Game feature on The Gardens Group. Instead Mike invited GTN to join him and his team for ‘Tea Break’ at Castle Gardens in Dorset to find out just how this community focussed business works so successfully. The three centres in the group regularly win awards, the most recent being GTN’s Greatest Christmas Display Team and the GCA’s Worrall Cup. ‘Tea break’ at Castle Gardens is a unique affair. At 10 o’clock every morning the tea trolley – a converted plant trolley – is wheeled out into the planteria and the team start to gather. Mike is there pouring mugs of hot steaming tea for his team. Over the course of the next 20 minutes every member of staff has joined the rest of the team for a cuppa and a doughnut, making sure tills and customer questions are always covered. You instantly get a big sense of community between all the team as they chat about work issues, where they went to last night, when the next plant delivery is due in, who’s birthday is it? And it is repeated at 4pm. “Tea Break started here at the beginning in 1987 when there were only five of us,” said Mike. “That’s what we would do and it has carried on ever since with only a short break when the staff had a vote to move it into the staff room. After a week, they had another vote to move it back outside. “The biggest decision made during ‘Tea Break’ is whether we should have custard or jam filled doughnuts. “We do the same thing every day at Poundbury and Brimsmore. As we expanded the key team members came from Castle Gardens so the tradition of ‘Tea Break’ went with them. At Brimsmore they have cake at 10am and Brian, who’s in charge of the tea trolley there, is a big fan of cake so you’ve got to get in early or he will stuff the lot.” The ‘Tea Break’ experience gives a big clue as to the inclusive management style of Mike and Louise Burks. They started the business after both studying horticulture at Bath University. They wanted to create a centre that sold quality plants and products with quality service at the forefront. The

Mike enjoys a tea break with his team.

2 April 2017

Gardens Group now consists of three sites, Brimsmore added in 1992 to bridge the Somerset-Dorset divide, Poundbury in the centre of town and Castle Gardens where Mike and Louise live on site. All their sites are leasehold. “I’ve never been interested in having to own bricks and mortar, it’s all about creating the right business for the long term, that’s where the real value is. You need long leases and co-operative landlords, but that is part of our core values, creating long term relationships.” Mike and Louise picked up a lot of their people management skills at university. “It was a sandwich placement so you’d end up going out to different businesses in horticulture and working with a whole range of different people so you had to learn to adapt and get on with people. right from the start we’ve respected people for their roles and what they are good at doing and try not to promote them into something they are not good at.” But what about this community focus? “The community thing is what we want to do naturally but I always say that everything we do with the community, if I had to answer to

a board of shareholders, would it be right for the business? It has to work commercially but that’s not the reason for doing it. “We live in a rural area and there is a limited number of customers and the theory is that if we look after the community the community will look after us. “For example, we’ll have situations where we’ve got a group of customers who have a particular interest in a charity and they are wanting to raise money but they need to hire a hall. So if they came to us and said can we borrow the Butterfly House, if it’s available at a time when it’s not going to compromise us with the car park we’ll say yes. As a result, every time they come to the centre they feel good because it has looked after them, they’ve had a good time so it boosts loyalty, and they feel they have ownership as well. “Our Green Shed where we have adults with learning difficulties who work here every weekday, turning broken pallets into bundles of kindling that we sell, is amazing. They are doing a real job. They are a big part of our community, they walk through the centre to get to and from the workshop, they say hello to people. Our ‘Tennis Ladies’, every now and then head to the Green Shed

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING The Garden Communication & Media Company Ltd (TGCMC), The Old School, 4 Crowland Road, Eye, Peterborough PE6 7TN Tel 01733 775700 Fax 01733 775838

Adults with learning difficulties at work in the Green Shed.

and give Barry, the manager, a cheque for £250 from a coffee morning they’ve held to help with buying new equipment. They feel part of it too. We are very proud of that.” Mike is adamant that their business is not taking trade away from the local high street. “We do all sorts of things; there’s the Christmas Tree festival in the Methodist Church, we supply them with all the trees free of charge. They then get 40 different community groups to decorate them. We can supply those relatively inexpensively and they get a massive boost. Another odd thing we do is erect and put all the lights on the Christmas Tree in the Abbey. It is a mammoth task at the busiest time of the year but we love doing it. “Sherborne in Bloom is Louise’s project which is massively important as we are national finalists for the first time. We are just about to announce a new scheme where we will be supplying garden clubs with plastic pots, compost and the plants as a way of getting primary schools involved in the garden clubs and vice versa. “Around Sherborne every year we do the Griffin Open Day. Children aged 14-15 come out and do projects around the town for the

day. A member of our staff goes out with every team and we get the situation where everything we’ve planted stays planted, it doesn’t get vandalised and you find people who are now key members of staff who first got into gardening because they took part many years ago. “We go out speaking to garden clubs. There are 125 clubs affiliated to us. The clubs love it, it’s great PR and the next day you see the people who were at the talk because they come into the centre.” Being so tightly knitted into the local community and focussed on developing staff to deliver quality it’s perhaps no surprise to hear that Mike and Louise don’t have any plans to grow the business beyond the existing three sites. “No more sites, there’s a lot of scope at all of our three locations, even at Poundbury. At Castle Gardens we can start extending our restaurant next year after our landlord reorganises the car parking and then there are plans to expand Brimsmore. In our particular structure we would struggle with more sites. I think we’ve realised our limitations, I’m not interested in empire building.” Finally, we get back to family. Will either of Mike and Louise’s children join them in this ‘community’ business? “No. They loved living here when they were brought up as the house was always open, their mates would always come round. So they love it but they also see what we’ve had to put into it to make it work. If one, or both, decided they wanted to come back, I’d be delighted, but the first thing they would do is sack me so I wouldn’t want them to come back too quick!”

THE GTN TEAM Editor: Neil Pope Associate Editor: Mike Wyatt Managing 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 The Garden Communication & Media Company Ltd (TGCMC), 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 © TGCMC 2017. 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. TGCMC 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.

April 2017 3


Marshall the Gardener will relish new challenge Now he’s finally got his hands on Dobbies, what will he do with it? The appointment of Nicholas Marshall as CEO puts a gardener back in the driving seat at Dobbies for the first time in almost 40 years – a move likely to set the tone for the Edinburgh-based garden centre chain’s next development phase. The last three CEOs have had business or retail backgrounds rather than green fingers. James Barnes worked in the City before taking over the reins from his father in 1989 and overseeing the group’s sale to Tesco in 2008. When he left the business in 2013, his successor was Andy King, a retailer with experience at Boots, W H Smith, Mothercare and The Body Shop before a five-year stint as head man at Notcutts. After Midlothian Capital Partners and Hattington Capital acquired Dobbies from Tesco last summer, King was replaced by John Cleland, who had previously run electronics chain Maplin and grocery multiple Somerfield as well as holding senior roles at ASDA and B&Q. It all follows a trend in the past decade that has seen garden centres import executives from the wider retail world as progressives in the industry strive to add High Street polish to their stores to meet the changing consumer expectations. As a result, there has barely been a gardener to be seen at the top. Nicholas Marshall, on the other hands, is not only an ambitious retail professional but an enthusiastic gardener with a passion for plants – and a famous plant hunter for a

4 April 2017

Nicholas Marshall with his chairman, Andrew Bracey (left) and CFO, Graeme Jenkins. Marshall says he will be investing in the business. great-great grandfather. His ancestor, the 19th century botanist Joseph Hooker, was Charles Darwin’s closest friend and is buried at Kew, where he was director. His great-great grandson is a selfconfessed plantaholic who likes nothing

better than gardening when he’s away from the boardroom. And in the past four years, since parting company with Terra Firma, then the new owners of The Garden Centre Group (Wyevale), he has almost certainly been able to do plenty of it in the garden of his his idyllic eight-acre estate in the Brecon Beacons. Marshall, who founded Country Gardens in 1984 from a defunct company worth £2 and built up a chain of 46 stores (40 of which he sold to Wyevale in 2000), is likely to bring a distinctive management style to his new job at Dobbies Edinburgh HQ. To see the group’s core plant offering reinforced would surprise no-one. The interest will centre on to the extent to which Marshall sticks to his long-held belief that a degree of entrepreneurship should be encouraged, even in a large centrally-run chain, because the staff on the ground are in the best position to implement excellent local customer service. It was this ‘think local’ approach that was behind his decision to re-brand Wyevale as The Garden Centre Group and make most of his garden centres identifiable by their place names.

promotion Classic Urn RRP £199.99

Waterfall Dancer RRP £299.99

Greek Columns RRP £799.99

Easy Fountain picking up on latest trends Kelkay’s Easy Fountains have been updated and extended for 2017 to respond to changing customer demand. the business review on which Antony Harker embarked in 2016 extended across the whole business including water features which represents a significant opportunity for growth. that’s what drove the team at Kelkay to update and redesign the brand, the packaging and the point of sale resulting in a strong new marketing campaign. A full range review led to the launch of almost 50 new fountains taking the total range to 85 with price points from £69.99 up to £2,499.99 making it the most comprehensive and up to date range of water features on the market. picking up on a classical theme, the new modern range includes italianate and Greek design to grace the most contemporary garden space. there’s a total of 18 new modern designs including amusing floating tap designs and features that include spinning glass balls and coloured LEDs. Extended range of rock and wood effect features have all been designed to appeal to gardeners seeking a natural look and theme to their garden design. the traditional collection focuses on brick, stone and terracotta effect features which have long been best sellers in the water features category. Kelkay have also responded to sales trends and changes in consumers resulting in the development of a range of highly distinctive novelty themed water features. the new range features otters which have proven

particularly popular, and also the charming range of miniature village scenes, all of which also feature LEDs. Finally, frogs, fish, turtles, cranes and even a crocodile are included in the completely new range of pond ‘spitters’ which are specially designed pond water ornaments that create a stream that splashes directly into a garden pond. Some of the historical best sellers from the range have also been added to, enlarged and improved to create higher price points and large impressive features for the larger garden. “We’re responding to feedback from consumers and trends in garden design to ensure that our range of water

features remains the best available to UK independent retailers.” said richard pyrah, Sales Director. “Additionally, we’ve had a real hard look at the most effective way to package and display this category and developed improved packaging and easier to manage merchandising. retailers can select just best sellers, or a complete range from the entry level right up to very large fountains. We can now supply the full range.” “i’m confident that this range development and the new packaging and point of sale will cement our position as the leading supplier of water features in the UK” said richard.

Above: Easy Fountain display in Tong Garden Centre Below: New in-store merchandising for Easy Fountain

To find out more about Kelkay’s range of Easy Fountains go to or e-mail the general enquiries office on or call 01405 869333.

April 2017 5

Marathon Man PeOPLe

Glee event director Matthew Mein was the brains behind the Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Walk. After running this year’s 20-mile event, Matthew explained how he came up with the idea of getting the industry ‘fit and moving’... What made you come up with the idea of the Garden Re-Leaf walk? I really wanted to contribute something to Garden Re-Leaf Day but not being a retailer I didn’t have a store to use as a showcase or platform. Creating the walk worked around this problem, whilst also allowing both retailers and suppliers to get out of the office to do something good together. From getting fit, to networking with the wider industry, the Garden Re-Leaf Walk is a great way of raising much needed funds for Garden Re-Leaf and Greenfingers. How many walks have there been? The 2017 walk was the third walk for Garden Re-Leaf. The first saw the walkers take on the Thames and central London, starting at Ruxley Manor Garden Centre in Sidcup and finishing at Clifton Nursery. The second walk, in 2016, saw even more walkers join us. On that occasion we walked in the Theale and Reading area, taking in boggy marshes and canal networks, before heading to the pub situated just metres away from the starting point at the former offices of The HTA. Will did you decide to run the 20 miles this year? It’s the first time I’ve run the 20 miles. Thankfully I had company with some other dedicated runners. My reason for running was simple, since 2016 I have been in training for the London Marathon, on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). GOSH is a charity very close to the heart of our family. My son Charlie spent his first early weeks there, when he was born prematurely nine years ago. Then just last year, my niece Rosie had a lifesaving heart transplant. This is just a small gesture of thanks for all the hard work they do, in giving so many children and families hope. Have you been in training? Yes! So much training! I started a proper training regime in June 2016, starting with short runs before building up to 20+ mile runs. It’s been hard but massively worth it. How much weight have you lost since the first walk? I am proud to announce that I have lost in excess of four stone! Are you pleased with the way the Garden Re-Leaf Walk has taken off? Incredibly pleased. The way that the garden retail industry can come together to do amazing things for worthy causes never fails to amaze me. The walk now feels a key part of Garden Re-Leaf Day, with more and more walkers joining in each year from both the industry and outside of it. It’s also just a great day – it’s networking but not as you know it! A few miles in and complete strangers have become comrades, with work talk giving way to laughter.

GARDEN RE-LEAF DAY REVIEW STARTS ON P14 Matthew ran the 20 miles of the Garden Re-Leaf Walk. Pictured left: Matthew takes a selfie with Fatboy Slim during one of the many events he runs to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Not forgetting your day job, how’s Glee shaping up this year? Glee is in great shape. We have sold over 80% of the stand space, with both new, lapsed and existing companies upping the ante on their stand designs and plans for the show. The show is very much on track to be bigger than the 2016 show. We also have a host of exciting new initiatives in the pipeline for both this year and the years ahead, not forgetting the recent announcement regarding Glee launching a concession show at Spring Fair in 2018. I’m really proud of Glee and this industry, and how it has stood its ground in times of difficulty. This year’s show will certainly be a showcase of this, with some exciting new features.

To donate to Matthew’s London Marathon fundraising total please visit: action?userUrl=matthew-mein-SAVMLMBONDS3332017-86603769

6 April 2017


One stop shop for garden spraying expertise... Hozelock have a selection of garden spraying equipment, designed to suit every need, from the general gardening enthusiast to the semi-professional, and encompassing the growing interest in alternatives to chemicals, particularly natural recipes for weedkilling and pest control. Disease, pests, weeds and the weather are all common issues that can have disastrous implications on garden plants. Choosing a quality sprayer makes what can be a daunting task much simpler and safer, and frees time to spend doing more relaxing activities in the garden. the Hozelock portfolio of sprayer brands helps to make the purchasing decision much easier by providing solutions for every type of gardener and garden.

New knapsack sprayers for 2017 Hozelock’s two new knapsack sprayers – Hozelock 12 Litre Plus and Hozelock 16 Litre Plus – are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort. The unique design with a curved tank is easy to use left or right-handed. The easy pumping action provides the perfect compromise between power and frequency with an ergonomic handle. The sprayer has a lockable lever, either in use or in storage, and inlcudes a filter and a mixer.

Introducing Hozelock Pure The new Hozelock Pure sprayer is an innovative solution that allows gardeners to use chemically-free, natural products and homemade solutions such as nettle manure, white vinegar, baking soda, soap etc. without the risk of damage or corrosion to the sprayer. The sprayer also comes equipped with a filter for liquid manures or infusions. Combined with efficient spraying performance and a wide range of applications, the robust non-corrosive design includes an 11cm long reach nozzle and a 360° function for spraying the underside of leaves and hard to reach areas. A lockable trigger allows continuous spraying, helping to avoid pressure on the hand. The level of contents is easily visible through the translucent and graduated bottle which allows accurate mixing and dosing.

Berthoud...the professional sprayer The world’s No 1 professional sprayer brand is now available in the UK, offering a high performance product range packed with features and benefits for expert and professional gardeners. The Berthoud Elyte 8 Pro garden pressure sprayer is ideally designed for use in both average and larger-sized gardens (200 to 1200m2). The large 8.5 litre capacity means that you can build great pressure for spraying 6 litres of fluid. The fixed pressure pump with aluminium pumping rod is off-centre, allowing for a wide opening on the reservoir which is separate from the pump. Measuring is made easier with a cap sealed multi-compartment measurer which can be used as a storage trap for the nozzle. And the ease of use doesn’t stop there! A strong and chemical resistance telescopic lance reaches from 0.5 to 1m, saving your back from the usual aches and pains that come with spraying your patio, decking or lawn. The addition of a quick click connector to the hose, along with handy storage for the nozzle, means you can set up and pack away in no time. 4To find out more about Hozelock’s garden spraying equipment call 0121 313 4242 or visit

April 2017 7


Making Easter egg-citing... The boundary between the outdoor leisure and garden decoration department is blurring, and at Gates Garden Centre in Leicestershire, they’re non-existent. Here’s how they’re going about it in the Easter run-up. Once upon a time, garden centres sold garden furniture and barbecues pretty much straight from the box in dedicated and not awfully inspiring departments. Visual merchandising was virtually unheard of. Today’s consumer demands better. Garden centres must sell a concept, a look, a mood, a fantasy - and that means they have to mix things up a bit, like they do at Christmas. Consumers are searching for ideas on how things might look when they get them home, how things might fit together. They have a continuous need for ideas that stimulate their new-found desire to spend more time relaxing and entertaining in their outdoor space. Garden decoration is now every bit as important as the furniture and the barbecue and, dare we say it, the plants. Customers want to adorn and beautify their

2 8 April 2017

surroundings in ways yesterday’s garden consumers never dreamed of. At Gates Garden Centre, one of the UK’s fastest growing destination garden centres, Jack Gates (son of managing director Nigel) and his team have fully embraced a philosopy of mix-and-match, where garden decoration and outdoor leisure now fill a vast diverse area, with invitations to spend at every turn, whether it’s a £6.99 solar light or a £699 daybed. Solar lighting at Gates, previously tucked away, has been brought forward and now mingles with sets of furniture and decorative products in an orchestrated jumble with touches of strategic retail theatre. Jack believes that this approach will encourage customers to spend more time browsing the department and look upon their visit as an experience, rather than just another shopping trip.



Animal magic 1. This timely massed display of baby rabbits on tree stumps and wooden crates from Vivid Arts is a perfect family crowd pleaser in the run-up to Easter. We didn’t enquire if there was plenty of back-up stock in the storeroom, which will certainly be needed as sales start to fragment the display.

2. Garden & Home Co animals add a playful touch to a display of candles, candle-holders and tea-light holders. Note the shopping baskets to make the most of impulse purchase opportunities. 3. Chimps, gorillas and tropical birds displayed en masse in this jungle scene - a neat but simple piece of retail theatre that will keep customers browsing the category and deserves to generate sales.

4. The centre has made good use of Smart Garden’s metal animal ornaments as attention grabbers in front of an in-depth solar lighting display that will guarantee footfall. 5. Sited on a corner next to benches of solar orbs and shelves of Cole & Bright lanterns, a couple of Smart Garden birds add atmosphere and create yet more impulse purchase opportunities. Continued overleaf




April 2017 9


Easter egg-citement continued from previous page



2 Capturing the leisure pound

1. Gates changed their shelf edging from white to house colour green, so that the product details and pricing are easier to read.

2. A display of indoor glassware and silk foliage plants makes a stylish backdrop to the luxury 4Seasons Outdoor Buckingham rattan suite. 3. The starburst on the Bramblecrest cocoon chair POS promotes ‘season-proof cushions’, a message repeated throughout on appropriate merchandise. Next to it: Smart Garden stake lights and bulbs.

4. Customers are invited to fill out postcards with their details and post them in a Keep in Touch box. 5. Weber Qs and briquettes ready for an early BBQ


season kick-off.

6. Potted cacti alongside a display of pretty Cactus thinking!

5 10 April 2017





The BVG Group acquired 100% of the share capital of Branded Garden Products, the parent company of Thompson & Morgan. The new combined group will have a turnover of £140m with an EBITDA of around £13.5m. BVG Group is a market leader in the direct sale of sporting supplements, fishing tackle, footwear and clothing, as well as, home and garden products. Thompson & Morgan has grown its product portfolio recently to offer the UK’s widest range of horticultural products. Recent additions to the historic range of seeds and plug plants include garden ready plants, nursery stock, the Van Meuwen range of budget packet seed, hedging and aquatic plants, along with an assortment of complementary items such as compost, fertiliser and related items.


Five-year old Harry Morgan was so upset when he heard that ten Koi Carp had been stolen from Squire’s Garden Centre in Badshot Lea that he drew lots of missing posters. Squire’s were touched by his thoughtful gesture; so to say thank you they invited Harry and his mum for a private tour of their Pets & Aquatics Centre, followed by a complimentary cream tea last Thursday 23rd March. Squire’s has displayed one of Harry’s drawings next to the tank where the fish were stolen. Thieves broke into Squire’s Badshot Lea on the evening of Friday 10th March and took ten extra large Koi Carp and one Sturgeon, which are worth over £7,000.

Diary Dates


The HTa announced that CEO, Carol Paris, was leaving the organisation at the end of april. Carol has served the HTA for seven years in total, as Vice President, President and CEO. During her tenure the HTA has restructured to improve member services, acquired and moved to a new Headquarters and restructured the investment portfolio to reduce the risk and volatility of exposure to the stock market. Carol said: “I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the HTA. I am confident that as there is now an established senior team in place and a new HQ, it is time for me to move on to new challenges.”


Keter Group BV, a leading global supplier of resin consumer products for the home and garden, has acquired Stewart Plastics. Keter, which operates in more than 90 countries, specialises in a broad portfolio of resin consumer products including sheds and storage boxes, furniture, tool and hardware storage.. Banbury-based Stewart, a UK brand leader in the grow-your-own and decorative planters categories as well as a leading supplier of professional catering products to commercial kitchens, food retail and hospitality sectors, has 70 years of brand and manufacturing heritage. Stewart products are present in more than 1,600 outlets across the UK. Stewart’s MD Andy Burns said: “We are excited to become a part of the Keter organisation, it creates significant growth opportunities for Stewart.”

The HTa Catering Conference and Dinner – A Piece of Cake? – takes place on Tuesday 13 June and Wednesday 14 June 2017 at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. A milestone in the garden industry calendar, the conference is a must attend event for all garden centre catering operators, from business owners and garden centre managers to catering managers, chefs and front of house staff. Bringing together speakers from inside and outside the industry the HTA Catering Conference is the event to attend to find out the very latest developments, issues and topics of interest impacting on garden centre catering. The conference is supported by an exhibition and the programme allows for plenty of networking with delegates and suppliers. Among the speakers will be chef Dominic Teague (pictured above) from One Indigo, the restaurant at 5-star hotel One Aldwych in London, who will explain why they decided to go gluten and dairy free with impressive results in terms of bookings and revenue.


The GIMa Council has been reduced from 16 to 12 members at the 2017 aGM, enabling a smaller but more accountable council of representatives to move the association forward. Chris Ramsden of Hozelock was reelected as GIMA President for another year, as was Richard Pyrah of Kelkay as Vice President. Kate Ebbens of Cadix remains in the role of Honorary Secretary and Nigel Thompson of Nigel Thompson Associates (representing Stewarts) retains the role of Honorary Treasurer. 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: trevor. and put ‘GTN Xtra’ in the subject line.

12 April 2017

Landscape architecture and garden design students at Writtle University College are to be given the golden opportunity to gain invaluable experience of creating a show garden at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. Award-winning designer and WUC graduate Ian Price visited the University College on 2 March to give Landscape Architecture and Garden Design degree students an insight into his show garden for RHS Chelsea and to critique their work. Whilst there, he revealed he would be giving two to five students invaluable experience of helping with the planting of the garden.


University challenge... Young’s Coaches of Ely kindly provided the transport to carry walkers from the registration point at Scotsdale’s Great Shelford and the start at Horningsea. Both the 10- and 20-mile routes took participants back to Great Shelford, where soft drinks and a barbecue awaited the finishers.



Matthew Mein and Boyd Douglas-Davies cut the ribbon to start the day at Scotsdales Horningsea garden centre before all

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Following countryside footpaths, they skirt Anglesey Abbey before a path along the bank of the River Cam takes them into the city of C




Walkers and their dogs pick up refreshments at a walk station in the city centre before the route guides them past some of Cambridge’s iconic colleges and on to Cambridge


Finally, runners and walkers reach journey’s end at Scotsdales at Great Shelford, where each (four leggeds included) is presented with a medal. LOFA hand over a £10,000 con

14 April 2017


n Jesus, Trinity, Kings, Corpus Christi...103 sponsored walkers from across the garden industry passed them all (with flying colours) during a 20-mile charity walk in and around Cambridge in aid of Greenfingers on Garden Re-Leaf Day. And what did they have to show for it (apart from red faces and blisters)? It could be as much as £25,000...

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103 walkers - plus a handful of four-legged ones - take a bow. Then, it’s off into the Cambridgeshire Fens...

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f Cambridge, where they enjoy privilaged access through the grounds of Jesus College (above and left) Cambr

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ge Botanic Gardens. Meanwhile, Scotsdales’ tomato runner Heidi Towse runs the optional 10-mile route and ‘rows’ the other 10 back at the garden centre. Bota

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contribution to Greenfingers’ head of fund-raising Linda Petrons, also pictured far left congratulating an exhausted Boyd, Garden Re-Leaf Day’s founder, on a great day. ntrib

April 2017 15


Charity day funds head towards £100k Thanks to snowballing support from garden centres and companies across the industry, funds raised on Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day 2017 last month could be heading towards an incredible £100,000 – a huge boost for the charity’s work of providing gardens and outdoor leisure spaces at UK children’s hospices. Following the success of the first 24-hour Plantathons last year, even more garden centres joined in this time round. Others, suppliers included, held raffles, quizzes or just dressed up to spice up the day’s activities. Right: Alton GC’s Andy Bunker, weary but still planting up as the the night wears on. Below: Millbrook Garden Centre’s spring launch raised £2,437.66 Bottom left: Hats off to the team at Ayletts, who used their heads to raise funds. Bottom right: The Plant-athon team at Orchard Park Garden Centre in Dorset planted till they dropped.

16 April 2017

We’re Lighting Up the Grilling Experience New: Long-lasting, smokeless and odour-free Premium BBQ Briketts by Die Kohle-Manufaktur now available in the UK DJ Davies Fuels Limited Tel: 01269 850224 email:

April 2017 17

Nursery opeN dAys

It’s all about plants GTN has been out and about visiting nursery open days around the country...

over 500 industry buyers attended the 2017 europlants uK Ltd open days hosted by renato Canale and his dedicated team. Customers were able to view the nursery bursting at the seams with stunning displays, including Vanucci’s new eye-catching shaved Chamerops excelsa plants, which along with other large specimens were being secured by garden centres to create great focal points in the planteria as well as potential high value sales. on offer were the new “Jackpot” specimen plants as well as the open day trolley deals. Thanks to europlant’s customer generosity, the event, which was compared by ITV’s Love your Garden david domoney, raised a whopping £2,800 for ‘perennial’, the horticultural benevolent society.

Europlants uK

Left: Italian Quality – that was the resounding message from the EuroplantsUK open day and their new POS tags sing that loud and clear. Eye catching displays of shaved Chamerops Excelsa plants proved popular with retailers, buying them to make great displays in planterias and for high ticket sales during the summer.


Twenty-one years of Open Day Excellence. Classiflora receive a special Greatest Award from GTN at their Open Day.

Left: The Classiflora Nursery was full of stock that will be used in instant garden decoration projects this spring and summer. Northern Ireland, Tottenham and Arsenal goalkeeping legend pat Jennings joined garden centre, landscaper and nursery plant buyers at the 21st Classiflora open days. GTN’s Trevor pfeiffer was joined by Marcus Cousins of Greatest plant Team Award winners Aylett Nurseries to present a special GTN’s Greatest Award to the Classiflora Team in recognition of 21 years of open day excellence.

18 April 2017

Andrew dayes from Classiflora presented a cheque for £500 to Greenfingers and drew the raffle for an ipad pro which was won by pauline Howard from Chigwell Nursery. This years open day co-incided with the launch of the new Buyers Bar on the Classiflora website which enables easier ordering of plants from mobile devices.

Wyevale & Allensmore Nurseries ‘PlantFest’ Retailers visited two nurseries in Hereford to attend their PlantFest and to see new product developments for the coming year. Wyevale Nurseries and Allensmore Nurseries held the joint open day for any plant retailer, both existing customers and those who may not have been supplied by either nursery. Adam Dunnett, Sales and Marketing Director at Wyevale Nurseries, said: “We held the open day event again in collaboration with our neighbours Allensmore Nurseries and customers were encouraged to come and visit both sites in one day. “The event was a great success with more visitors this year than our open day last year. The feel for the day was a relaxed festival vibe with our despatch glasshouse filled to the brim with stunning, eye catching displays of topical spring stock for immediate order. There were also special discounts on the day, which many of the attendees took advantage of. “As product innovation is a top priority for us, Ben Gregory, our Product Development Coordinator, was heading up our ‘Introducing Stage’ showcasing new and exciting product in the running for future introductions.” Allensmore Nurseries showcased its new marketing concepts on perennials, impulse colour, Mother’s Day added value and specimen plants, as well as touring customers around sites for opportunities for immediate delivery. Mark Taylor, Managing Director at Allensmore Nurseries, said: “We’re constantly trying to improve the offer we deliver to garden centres and this gave us the opportunity to receive invaluable feedback from customers to help us move this forward in a direction that worked for them.” Above: The most popular new plant on the day at Wyevale Nurseries was a brand new Phormium which really breaks the mold. It’s an extremely compact grower with incredibly fine bronze foliage that will work very well in patio containers. It’s also low maintenance and perfect for the modern gardener. Below: New Mother’s Day POS was amongst the many new plant retailing ideas on display at Allensmore Nurseries.

Fertilise outdoor plant sales As people begin to picture garden parties and barbecues with friends, decorating their ‘outdoor rooms’ with beautiful containers packed with plants in bloom is becoming a priority. Retailers can capitalise in store on consumers’ dreams of beautiful patios by highlighting the products and information shoppers need to nurture their plants, keeping them healthy and blooming all summer. This approach can grow the market, attracting the 30%2 of plant owners who don’t feed. SBM Life Science Ltd is home to three of the strongest plant care brands in the sector – Baby Bio®, Phostrogen® and Toprose – known and trusted by consumers and garden retailers alike. Greatness grows from every drop Baby Bio® is the most recognised gardening brand in the UK1. Feeding the garden since 1960 Phostrogen® is trusted and recognised by gardeners everywhere. The rose care brand leader Toprose already accounts for over 40%3 of the rose food market. Baby Bio® is the most recognised gardening brand in the UK. New this season, Baby Bio® Pour & Feed is a ready to use formulation ideal for outdoor container plants. With added seaweed, it contains all the nutrients a plant needs, improving vigour and longevity. The result – vibrant blooms that last longer and a balanced growth of glossy green leaves. Also for outdoor plants, Baby Bio® Outdoor is a unique boosted plant food, which helps plants produce up to 70% more flowers compared to unfed and up to 35% heavier crops compared to a standard NPK fertiliser. Phostrogen® has a well-balanced formulation for superior results and is ideal for baskets, tubs, seedlings and lawns and is incredibly easy to use. Trusted by gardeners everywhere, the brand, which includes 80-can packs of Phostrogen All Purpose Plant Food and Phostrogen® Patio Plant Food, delivered year on year growth in 2016 compared to 2015 of 16%. New this season is 2-in-1 product Phostrogen® Slow Release Plant Food & Moisture Control. Producing bigger, more vibrant blooms than those on unfed plants, it is a slow release plant food that lasts up to six months and has water storing crystals that control moisture. Roses may be the most likely plant type to be fed but there is still a big gap between the number who grow roses and the number who feed them; 65%2 of gardeners grow roses, but only 47%2 feed them. Toprose is by far the dominant rose food brand3. Toprose has the perfect balance of nutrients for bright and beautiful roses and Toprose Gold, a premium rose food boosted with seaweed extract, delivers top class, longer lasting, bigger blooms and rich, green leaves. Baby Bio® and Phostrogen are registered trademarks of SBM Développement. 1 IPSOS 2014, GfK MAT April 2016 – Houseplant Feed 2 Shopper Centric 2014 3 In 2016 Toprose accounted for 42% of the market, its nearest rival accounting for only 27%: Sales Value % share GfK July 2016 12 months.

April 2017 19


Catering for all tastes Rexmartins satisfies appetites of outdoor living enthusiasts

Being quick to adapt to emerging trends and keeping up-to-date with the latest new product developments is key for any successful catering equipment buyer. And there’s no shortage of insights and innovations at this year’s commercial Kitchen show, which has now opened visitor registration for 2017. As the UK’s only dedicated trade event for the entire commercial kitchen industry, it’s expected to welcome 2,000 catering equipment buyers, specifiers, distributors,

Dining alfresco beats gardening in Brits’ use of outdoor space. 70% of homeowners are eating in their gardens more often and Rexmartins’ luxury RMB outdoor living range provides an impressive way for customers to take garden entertaining to the next level. The modular kitchen range includes gas or Lava Rock state-of-the-art BBQs, with premium accessories, including rotisserie, as standard. Upgrades include various cooking methods such as grilling/smoking and Asian infused cooking’ with the exclusive module RMB design. Bottle coolers, ice machines and glass fronted bottle coolers/fridges, waste bin cabinets and integrated full size sink with hot and cold mixer spray taps also available.

20 April 2017

and consultants from across the foodservice and hospitality sector (including restaurants and pubs, casual dining chains, fine dining and Michelin-Star restaurants, hotels, schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, foodto-go, supermarkets, leisure attractions and venues, and install companies). One hundred leading exhibitors showcasing everything from cooking equipment and refrigeration to ventilation and storage will be there to meet them at the nec Birmingham on 6-7 June.

April 2017 21

Take Two! spotlight

two garden centres re-opened this spring, both just off the M25 and within 40 minutes drive of each other – Bunnings Warehouse at st Albans and squire’s Chertsey. they are both garden centres that sell plants, garden sundries, tools, outdoor leisure and have coffee shops but the approaches are worlds apart. At st Albans, Bunnings have implemented their first UK version of the warehouse style of trading that has been so successful for them in Australia while at Chertsey, squire’s have created a small boutique garden centre that includes all of the usual facets of a UK garden centre, just on a smaller scale. gtN visited both centres shortly after opening where happy customers were enjoying the new retail experiences. here’s our pictorial comparison of the different approaches.

Squire’s Chertsey

Squire’s Chertsey incorporates an octagon-shaped lodge building from the Napoleonic Wars in leafy Chertsey, while Bunnings St Albans sits on a busy retail park in St Albans.

Bunnings St Albans



In the Squire’s planteria, all of the benching is moveable so displays can easily change through the season. Bunnings have used metal shelving on blocks to create pyramid plant displays to deliver great visual impact.


22 April 2017

Garden sundries at Chertsey follow the traditional UK garden centre display model - grouped by type. Bunnings’ range is wide and extensive, displayed in warehouse racking in the covered area of the outside garden centre.




A small seasonal area includes the bestselling outdoor leisure items from the full Squire’s range. The outdoor leisure sales area at Bunnings includes display models high up in top of the racking with a wide range of BBQs and furniture available.



An appealing home and gift sales area between gardening and the café bar at Squire’s Chertsey. There’s a range of fine foods too. Bunnings have not included any ‘home and gift’ in their first UK store. Their tool shop will provide many a gift for the ‘DIYer’ in your household.


Squire’s have added a new range of teapots and crockery to complement their boutique café bar style where afternoon tea is a key feature. Bunnings customers can relax and enjoy a great cup of coffee at the Hardware Café complete with children’s play area.




Growing media at Squire’s Chertsey is right by the exit for easy transporting to cars. You’re left in no doubt that Bunnings intend to sell masses of growing

media with warehouse style aisles packed full with every growing media product you could want.

April 2017 23




Career Moves


Andy Harding has joined Farplants to head up their expanding Added Value Division. He has over 30 years experience in retailing with companies such as IKEA and The Range Home & Leisure as Regional Manager. He also spent eight years in garden centres with Blue Diamond and more recently with Home & Garden where he was Operations Manager & Business Development Manager. Andy says: “I am looking forward to utilising my retail skills to help develop the Added Value Range and support the team in driving the business forward for Farplants.”

How did you get to be a Plant Product Development Manager? I completed a BSc Hons degree in Horticultural crop production, which I finished in 2013 and soon started working for Bell Brothers Nurseries in Lincolnshire. I started a management trainee programme at Wyevale Nurseries in 2014 where I gained the skills and experience necessary to secure my first management role as Product Development Manager. I absolutely love it. Where do you find new plants? Most of my time is spent travelling within Europe. My main point of call is the Netherlands, I spend a lot of time there visiting breeders, trials and suppliers. I also visit Belgium frequently, as well as France, Denmark, Germany and Spain throughout the year. I am also looking to travel across to the United States and further afield again this year. Where do you find inspiration for new trends? I like to draw inspiration at other industries and what’s happening there. Clothing, food and interior design can all be very relatable. I also like to visit and look at what is happening around the world. The UK is perhaps a bit slow on new fashion and often other areas in Europe and US can be much more progressive. Social media is of course extremely important as well – Instagram and Pinterest are brilliant for researching and scouting for new ideas.

24 April 2017

What do you think the future prospects are for container planting? I think there is huge potential for both the grower and the retailer to continue growth in this sector. We are adapting our range more and more to suit the convenience patio gardener. It is one of the first criteria I look for in a new plant. Will instant hedging - grown in a trough - be a hit in years to come? I think so, again it’s offering the instant solution and makes life simple for the consumer, whether they are a landscaper or home gardener. An instant trough hedge can offer the look of hedge that has been there for years as soon as it’s planted,. This fits the continuing theme of instant gratification gardening. I am excited to continue to innovate in this range further and broadening our offer as we are seeing good growth here. What is your favourite plant in development at Wyevale Nurseries at the moment? It’s got to be the new Phormium, which was first shown to our retail customers at our open day at the start of March. It’s such an exciting find. It is completely distinct and unique in the Phormium genus with ultra-fine foliage and a bushy compact habit up to 30cm tall. I first heard about this plant when travelling in Southern USA from an Australian company, who then sent plants over the following spring for us to start bulking up. A truly global introduction.

Nicholas Marshall has joined Dobbies as Chief Executive Officer. He has over 30 years’ experience in the garden centre sector. See page 4 to see what effect his appointment will have on the garden centre group. Weber Barbecues has appointed Chris Howard as sales director for the UK and Ireland.Previously group sales director at consumer goods manufacturer Keter UK, Howard joined in January, with 20 years of proven success across retail and FMCG behind him. He said: “I have been relishing the opportunity to join a company that is committed to investing in the category and its retailers. This year will see our biggest investment yet with great product innovation, a major advertising campaign, the rollout of premium fixtures instore and a revamped training experience for store staff.” Last year Weber appointed François Lepeltier as UK & Ireland general manager.

April 2017 25


InternatIonal retaIl GUrU JOHN STANLEY

Does Ukraine have garden centres? This question has been asked of me a number of times over the last few weeks. In early March I was invited to the country to work with garden centres and present a workshop to the industry. This was my first visit there and a new experience for me. Ukraine has a small garden industry, although there are 44 million living in the country. Only 0.5% are looked on as rich which gives you 22,000 people who could be interested in gardens. As a result there are around 100 wholesale nurseries, 47 garden centres and 1,000 landscapers. These landscapers range from very professional designers to a guy with a Lada and a wheelbarrow. The enjoyment of working around the world is that you are always picking up new ideas, different ways of how the trade works and these make you question what is happening overall in the industry. A visit to Ukraine is no different. The industry has shrunk for number of reasons, but many growers have a strange way of doing business. Around 30% of growers supply plants to independent garden

Chocolates and indoor plants displayed together to create an added sale.

26 April 2017

centres in the normal way. The season ends in November and garden centres shut down. These 30% of nurseries take back the plants from the garden centre and pay the garden centre for the plants they have not sold and resell them the next year at the same price. One result has been some retailers not promoting the plants in the way they should as they know they will get paid come what may and the growers have been finding the model has not been viable. Luckily more growers are now realising this is not a profitable model moving forward and are changing the way they do business. Ladies Day is the big day. It takes place on March 8 and I am told 40% of flowering plants and cut flowers are sold on this day. I visited the Home Improvement stores on the lead up to Ladies Day and they were busy and their garden centres were full of colour. Alas, the independent garden centres I visited were mostly closed as they do not open until two weeks after Ladies Day. When I asked why, I was told that garden centres should focus on shrubs, not impulse flowering plants. This is missing a huge opportunity. Consumers tend to continue to shop at their first destination of the year as long as they have had a great experience and as result this is why the home improvement stores are seeing growth One message to me was follow the leader. Roshen is a Ukranian confectionary company that sells high quality, high price sweets and chocolates – the stores are like the Disney of confectionary. These stores highlight that if you create the experience the consumer will want to visit your store and purchase. Many independent garden centres in this country still have the approach that you grow the

Ladies Day is big in Ukraine and an opportunity for garden centres to show some flair in display. plant, place it on the ground in a sales yard and the customer will buy. Ukrainian customers also want an experience – they have less disposable income, but they will still spend on the experience. The consumer in Ukraine has changed. Research in 2014 indicated that they were mainly impulse buyers instore. The same research organisation looked at the consumer in 2016 and found they were spending more time thinking about the purchase, watching YouTube videos and comparing prices on the internet whilst looking for better quality at a better price. The Ukraine may have a small market, but progressive independent garden centres still have an opportunity to make a difference whilst the traditional retailers are losing market share.


GTN’s Greatest Awards will be bigger than ever in 2017 After the continued success of Gtn’s Greatest Awards in 2016, by popular demand we’re back with updated categories in 2017 to truly reflect all the areas of excellent team work that goes into making a successful garden centre in today’s competitive retail environment. By attending a series of focussed existing industry events we’re able to reward more of the great ideas and teamwork that make garden retailing in the UK so good. “Once again, we are expecting to visit a record number of centres and teams in our quest to find the Greatest,” says Gtn’s MD trevor Pfeiffer. “And we’re really happy to travel the length and breadth of the country to meet every single team who are nominated. It’s the only way to truly find out which teams are really worthy of a Greatest Award.” Gtn’s Greatest Awards already have the highest garden centre participation of any garden industry awards and once again in 2017 we fully expect to break all records. Winning a Greatest Awards Gold, silver, Bronze or Regional Award following on from our judging visits or through public voting is highly coveted by garden centres the length and breadth of the UK.

4GTN’s Greatest Catering Awards at HTA Catering Conference, June 13th 2017 4GTN’s Greatest Plant Retailing Awards at National Plant Show, June 21st 2017 4GTN’s Greatest Outdoor Living Retailing Awards at SOLEX, July 11th 2017 4GTN’s Greatest Garden Re-Leaf Day Awards at GIMA Awards, July 14th 2017 4GTN’s Greatest Garden Centre Awards at HTA Futures, Oct 4th 2017 4GTN’s Greatest Marketing Awards at HTA Marketing Forum, Nov 15th 2017 teams from UK garden centres can be nominated by garden centre owners, managers or team members themselves and by supplier’s reps, agents and business consultants. If you know of a team that’s pulling up trees this year and worthy of a Gtn’s Greatest Award nomination just send an e-mail to: thegreatestawards@ and then we’ll make arrangements to visit and find out their story. For sponsorship opportunities which include weekly branding and awareness slots in Gtn and Gtn Xtra from April through to november please contact mandy. or call 01733 775700.

Will Timmermans retain their multiple Greatest Awards in 2017? Their clutch of gold, silver and bronze awards across catering, plants and marketing gained them plenty of local publicity and what great kudos to tell customers they are The Greatest!

28 April 2017

The Greatest Catering Awards at The HTA Catering Conference – June 13th at the Belfry. Presented during dinner in the evening of the 13th June. 4 The Greatest Afternoon Tea Experience 2016 4 The Greatest Garden Centre Coffee Award 4 NEW - The Greatest Wash Up Team of the Year 4 NEW - The Greatest Garden Centre Baking Award 4 The Greatest Chef Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Front of House Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Garden Centre Catering Team of the Year

The Greatest Plant Retailing Awards at the HTA National Plant Show – 21st June at Stoneleigh Presented in the seminar theatre at Midday on the 21st June. 4 The Greatest Planteria Linked Sales Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Pot and Plant Sales Team – Top of the Pots 4 The Greatest “Garden Decoration” Sales Team 4 The Greatest Plant Advice Team (includes planteria signage and information) 4 The Greatest Plant Supplier of the Year 4 The Greatest Plant Sales Team of the Year

The Greatest Garden Centre Awards at the HTA Futures Conference – 4th October at Heythrop Park Presented at the dinner in the evening on October 12th. 4 The Greatest Garden Care Retail Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Garden Centre Customer Service Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Garden Centre Training Team or Initiative of the Year 4 The Greatest Garden Centre Merchandising Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Gardening Supplier of the Year 4 The Greatest Garden Centre of the Year

The Greatest Marketing Team Awards at the HTA Marketing Forum – 15th November at Horticultural House Presented during Conference. 4 The Greatest Social Media Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Marketing Event of the Year 4 The Greatest Marketing Innovation of the Year 4 The Greatest Supplier Marketing Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Garden Centre Marketing Team of the Year

Keep up to date with all GTN’s Greatest Awards in our weekly newsletter GTN Extra The Greatest Outdoor Living Retailing Awards – 11th July at SOLEX, NEC Birmingham Presented at a drinks reception as day one of SOLEX draws to a close. 4 The Greatest BBQ Sales Team of the Year 4 NEW - The Greatest Furniture Sales Team of the Year 4 The Greatest Outdoor Leisure Supplier of the Year 4 The Greatest Overall Outdoor Leisure Sales Team of the Year

The Greatest Garden Re-Leaf Day Charity Activity Award at the GIMA’s – 14th July Presented during the section when the total raised on Garden Re-Leaf Day 2016 is announced. 4 The Greatest Garden Re-Leaf Day 2017 Retail Fundraising Team 4 The Greatest Garden Re-Leaf Day 2017 Supplier Fundraising Team


Entry into GTN’s Greatest Awards is free. Teams just have to be nominated in a category via e-mail to and then a member of the GTN Experts team will come and visit you to find out the story behind your greatness. Nominations can also be made by phoning the GTN office on 01733 775700.

April 2017 29



things that caught our eye at PATS Sandown

Super Suet Starter Pack, Unipet International: A great value product that is well packaged, making it attractive to the customer. It will also help to encourage more people to feed the birds in their garden.

ZiwiPeak Air Dried Cat Food, Natural Pet Products: This unique product brings air-dried food into the cat category – in line with the dog food market. The packaging is innovative and incorporates a special window so that customers can see the contents.

Pawsecco Wine For Dogs and Cats, Woof & Brew: This product has a great price point, the ingredients are natural, and it looks like a gift. It caters for both cats and dogs, and can even be drunk by pet owners.

Pure Buffalo Chew, Loving Pets UK: Everything about this product is good – good re-sealable packing, good value and good natural ingredients.

WildWash Flea and Bug Spray with Horsetail, Eucalyptus and Nettle: The thought and development that went into this product is impressive, with ingredients being ethically sourced from four continents.

Drive Harness, EzyDog: With car safety for pets high on everyone’s agenda and law changes in the pipeline, this dog harness was a unanimous winner. This well thoughtout product incorporates good padding for comfort and safety.

30 April 2017

Profile for Garden Trade News

GTN April 17  

GTN April 17