GTN February 2024 - GTN's Greatest Christmas Awards Bumper Issue - Garden Trade News UK

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Advice & information for garden centre professionals


Celebrating Christmas Garden Centre Greatness GTN’s Bumper Greatest Christmas Awards Special Issue


Destination Garden Centre of the year 2023

100’S OF CHRISTMAS IDEAS From The Greatest Christmas Teams

GARDEN CENTRE PERCEPTIONS How environmentally friendly are they?

Thank You GCA members

GCA Associate Member of the Year


01923 200600


An abundant Spring?


write this comment piece with much surface water on the surrounding fields and gardens at the GTN offices. It has been so wet I doubt many brave souls have even thought about gardening just yet, let alone actually doing any. That doesn’t seem to have stopped customers going out to garden centres though, as those we have visited over the past few weeks have always had busy restaurants and plenty of activity through the tills. Long may that continue. When it does warm up for a long enough period, one consequence of all this rain is that there is now so much stored up energy in the ground that when plants start to grow they are likely to grow in abundance. That will be great news for a super spring of gardening and plant sales but a worry if it all goes too fast.

With the downturn in pre-season ordering this year, suppliers are now concerned that when the demand for re-stocking does come, although they have plentiful stocks, getting products out to everyone at the same time just won’t be possible. Have you got your re-stocking plans in place? It was great to see so many GTN readers at Spring Fair for the presentations of our Greatest Christmas Awards. What a gathering of Christmas retailing greatness! Thank you to all who took part, to our judges, the team at Spring Fair and most of all to our sponsors: AMES, Glee, Kaemingk, MorePeople, Noma, PATS, SOLEX, Stars for Europe, Three Kings & Woodmansterne, without whose support the personal judges visits would not be possible. Thank you.

Remember it is Garden Re-Leaf Day on Friday 15th March 2024.

This year you can easily join in by taking part in the 250 Challenge. If every garden centre in the UK raised this sum on Garden Re-Leaf Day this would total in excess of £1.5million, proving the old adage that ‘every little helps!’ Find out more at: or reach out to Linda Petrons, Greenfingers Director of Fundraising & Communications via


The Greatest Christmas Awards

In this issue... 31

Klondyke High Legh, Poundbury, Birkacre


Harrogate Show Ideas for


Alton, Blue Diamond Newbridge, Garsons Esher


Planting Manifesto Ideas –


Brimsmore, Glendoick, Chessington



Wentworth, Klondyke Astbury Meadow, Cambridge Home & Garden

Advertisers in this Issue

Potting Shed Press Ltd




Four Oaks




Handy Distribution


The Otters Brook Collection

Garden Trade News is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd who also publish: GTN Bestsellers, GTN Xtra, Pet Trade Xtra, Glee Daily News and the Glee Catalogue, and the Solex Sun. Potting Shed Press also supply Garden Radio to over 100 garden centres across the country.



presentations at Spring Fair 8

GCA Conference Award winners


Primeur: the home of doormats


Environmental perceptions of garden centres


Westlands New Horizon Community Fund


Busy Bee tops the customer vote for Christmas greatness


23 pages of judges photos and comments from The Greatest


Bents, BGC Studley


Coolings, Newquay


The Grange, Garsons Titchfield, Keydell, Perrywood Tiptree

Christmas Awards start here 16

Barton Grange




BGC Harrogate






Haskins Snowhill


Woodlands, Kent


Squires Badshot Lea, Polhill


Old Railway Line

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 THE GTN TEAM Editor Trevor Pfeiffer Advertising Sales Alan Burdon Features Editor Anisa Gress Digital Editor Neil Pope Subscriptions Karen Pfeiffer Design & Production AT Graphics Ltd Kirsty Craner – Design Alun Jones – Production Manager Robert Tipping – Managing Director James Tipping – Technical Director Printing CG Print Ltd

Christmas 2024

HTA Column Supply Chain Challenges – GIMA Column


BGC, Dobbies




Gouldings Santa Experience, Dobbies Edinburgh and Tewkesbury, Mackenzie & Cruickshank, Munros, Pengelly, Planters Tamworth




Noma by LeisureGrow




Three Kings by Smart Garden Products


Thank you to our Sponsors


Kings Seeds


Flashes of Christmas Inspiration


Museums & Galleries


Solex 2024

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Director Trevor Pfeiffer

SMALL PRINT: All material © Potting Shed Press Ltd 2024. No part of this publication may e reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information supplied 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 vent of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cassation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.

Februaary 2024 3

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

The Greatest Christmas Show on earth Decisions were hard to make, but after visiting 100 garden centres in Scotland, Wales and England, and two days of deliberation, judges were delighted to see winners of GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards pick up their certificates and celebrate at Spring Fair this month.


he standard of Christmas displays and the wonder they bring to garden centre customers increases year on year, and behind each one is a fantastic team. We recognise the camaraderie and supportiveness of teams responsible for bringing Christmas cheer and sparkle to garden centres across the land and salute all their hard work. Thanks to all those who entered and provided a warm welcome to very chilly judges visiting in November and December. A new category to recognise teams behind the sales of wild bird and pet care was introduced this year, as was The Greatest Group Giant Garden Centre Christmas Team. This recognised the everincreasing size of garden centres businesses. We also reintroduced the Customers Favourite vote. In total, 18,919 customer votes for 333 garden centres via a QR or paper were counted. It was great to see how well this was received and hat’s off to everyone who encouraged their customers to take part. Thanks also to the sponsors of GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards, without whose support the judging visits would not happen: AMES, Glee, Kaemingk, MorePeople, Noma, PATS, SOLEX, Stars for Europe, Three Kings and Woodmansterne.

4 February 2024

THE WINNERS The Greatest Giant Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD: Barton Grange Garden Centre SILVER: Gates Garden Centre BRONZE: Perrywood Tiptree Finalists • Bents • Garsons Esher • Longacres Bagshot • Whitehall Lacock

The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Large) Christmas Team GOLD: Squire’s Badshot Lea SILVER: Klondyke High Legh BRONZE: Haskins Garden Centre Snowhill HIGHLY COMMENDED COMMENDED: Dobbies Edinburgh Finalists • Blue Diamond Newbridge Nurseries • British Garden Centres Van Hage Great Amwell • British Garden Centres Woodthorpe • Klondyke Mortonhall Garden Centre • Klondyke Garden Centre Stokesley • Tong Garden Centre

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Small) Christmas Team GOLD: BGC Harrogate SILVER: BGC Studley BRONZE: Klondyke Astbury Meadow Finalists • BGC Bournville • BGC Braintree • BGC Burford House • BGC Charlbury • BGC Playhatch

The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD: Pugh’s Garden Village Redyr SILVER: Wentworth Garden Centre BRONZE: Garsons Titchfi Titchfield eld Finalists • Fron Goch Garden Centre • The Old Railway Line Garden Centre

The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD: Cooks Garden Centre SILVER: Poundbury Garden Centre BRONZE: The Grange Garden Centre HIGHLY COMMENDED: Pengelly Garden Centre HIGHLY COMMENDED: Munro Nurseries

The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD: Birkacre Garden Centre SILVER: Glendoick Garden Centre BRONZE: Brimsmore Gardens BRONZE: Woodlands Garden Centre HIGHLY COMMENDED: Mackenzie & Cruickshank Finalists • Bosworths Garden Centre Burton Latimer • Castle Gardens • Jackson’s Garden Centre • Halls Garden Centre • Holt Garden Centre • Newquay Garden Centre • Pughs Garden Village Wenvoe • Silverbirch Garden Centre • Whitehall Garden Centre Whitchurch

Finalists • Bennybeg Plant Centre • Whitehall Garden Centre Pewsey

The Greatest Houseplant Christmas Team GOLD: Haskins Garden Centre, Snowhill SILVER: Newquay Garden Centre BRONZE: British Garden Centres Studley Finalists • Blue Diamond Newbridge Nurseries • Brimsmore Gardens • BGC Tring • Dobbies Brighton • Dobbies Edinburgh • Gates Garden Centre • Klondyke High Legh • Little Dobbies Richmond • Perrywood Tiptree • Whitehall Garden Centre, Lacock

February 2024 5

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Christmas Team GOLD: Old Railway Line SILVER: Pugh’s Garden Village Radyr BRONZE: Coolings, The Gardener’s Garden Centre HIGHLY COMMENDED: Planters Garden Centre Tamworth Finalists • BGC Bournville • BGC Playhatch • BGC Winnersh • Brimsmore Gardens • Garsons Titchfield • Haskins Garden Centre Snowhill • Jackson’s Garden Centre • Klondyke Asbury Meadow • Klondyke Mortonhall Garden Centre • Perrywood Sudbury • Pengelly Garden Centre • Squires Badshot Lea • St Peters Garden Centre • Tong Garden Centre

The Greatest Festive Retail Food Team GOLD: Pugh’s Garden Village Radyr SILVER: Old Railway Line Garden Centre SILVER: and Garsons Esher BRONZE: Barton Grange Garden Centre Finalists • Bents • Chessington Garden Centre • Klondyke Mortonhall Garden Centre • Longacres Bagshot Lea Garden Centre • St Peters Garden Centre • Whitehall Garden Centre, Lacock

The Greatest Christmas Marketing Team GOLD: Barton Grange Garden Centre SILVER: Pughs – garden group BRONZE: Gates Garden Centre Finalists • Bosworths Garden Centre, Burton Latimer • Cooks Garden Centre • Fron Goch Garden Centre • Garsons Titchfield Titchfield • Garsons Esher • Halls Garden Centre

The Greatest Festive Season Outdoor Living Team - The Solex Sizzle GOLD: Polhill Garden Centre SILVER: Alton BBQ World BRONZE: Cambridge Home and Garden HIGHLY COMMENDED: Newquay Garden Centre Finalists • Chessington Garden Centre • Old Railway Line Garden Centre

6 February 2024

The Greatest Christmas Gardening Gifts Sales Team GOLD: Gates Garden Centre SILVER: Blue Diamond Newbridge Nurseries BRONZE: Newquay Garden Centre HIGHLY COMMENDED: Pughs Garden Village Wenvoe Finalists • BGC Bournville • Castle Gardens • Fron Goch Garden Centre • Garsons Titchfield

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

The Greatest Wild Bird and Pet Care Sales Team GOLD: Barton Grange Garden Centre SILVER: Bents BRONZE: Old Railway Line Finalists • Blue Diamond Newbridge Nurseries • Garsons Esher • Garsons Titchfield Titchfield • Groves Nurseries and Garden Centre Bridport

The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video GOLD: Old Railway Line Garden Centre SILVER: Alton BBQ World BRONZE: The Dobbies group BRONZE: The British Garden Centres group HIGHLY COMMENDED: Pengelly Garden Centre Finalists • Barton Grange • Keydell Nurseries Garden Centre • The Grange Garden Centre • Tong Garden Centre • Wentworth Garden Centre

The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Grotto Team GOLD: Chessington Garden Centre SILVER: Gouldings Garden Centre BRONZE: Keydell Nurseries Garden Centre HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ruxley Manor Garden Centre, Birkacre Garden Centre, Coolings Lifestyle Finalists • Barton Grange • Baytree Garden Centre • BGC Arcadia • Tong Garden Centre • Wentworth

The Greatest Festive Garden Centre Catering Team GOLD: Woodlands Garden Centre SILVER: Bents BRONZE: Pughs group of centres HIGHLY COMMENDED: Dobbies Tewkesbury, Haskins Garden Centre Snowhill Finalists • Holt Garden Centre • Jacksons Garden Centre • Munros Nurseries • Pengelly Garden Centre • Squire’s Badshot Lea • Newquay Garden Centre

The Greatest Christmas Supplier GOLD: Kaemingk SILVER: Gisela Graham BRONZE: Festive BRONZE: Smart Garden Products

The Greatest Christmas Garden Centre Team Customer Vote Gold: Busy Bees Garden Centre Silver: Cooks Garden Centre Bronze: Bosworth’s Burton Latimer

February 2024 7

GCA Conference and Awards

Destination Garden Centre of the Year for 2023 is Bents Garden & Home.

Bents and Fairways scoop top GCA Awards Garden centres celebrate, network and raise £44,000 for three charities.


ver three days in January, delegates of the annual GCA Conference heard from a range of inspiring speakers and cheered new talent and garden centres winning awards for creativity, excellence and imagination. “They have all demonstrated tremendous tenacity, hard work and passion, and couldn’t be more deserving of these accolades,” says Peter Burks, GCA Chief Executive. Additionally, delegates also raised more than £44,000 for Greenfingers, Perennial and The Colegrave Seabrook Foundation from a range of initiatives including a grand draw and an auction for Evergreen Horticulture’s last bag of peat-based growing media. That was won by Terry Head of Stewarts Garden Centres, who also received 12 pallets of peat-free compost. A mention must also go to Ian Flounders from Woodlodge who added to the funds by having his beard shaved off!

8 February 2024

Left: Congrattulations to Woodmansteerne named as the Associate of the Year voted for by GCA A members. Below: Th he Dick Allen Award, for the most improveed garden centre, went to Thompson Plants and Garrden from Welling, Kent.

GCA Conference and Awards

Garden Centres of Excellence (alphabetical order)

Fairways Garden Centre, Ashbourne was named Garden Centre of the Year.

• Barton Grange Garden Centre • Bents Garden & Home • Coolings Garden Centre Knockholt • Haskins Garden Centre, Snowhill • Klondyke Mortonhall Garden Centre • Millbrook Garden Company, Gravesend • Perrywood Garden Centre, Tiptree • Ruxley Manor Garden Centre • Simpsons Garden Centre, Inverness • The Old Railway Line Garden Centre

Bents Garden & Home won the Barton Grange Trophy for Commercial Creativity and Innovation

Excellent customer serv ice from the team at The Old Railway Line Garden Centre meant it secured the Customer Service Award.

The inaugural Paul Cooling Environment and Sustainability Award was presented to the Millbrook Garden Company.

Westland Horticulture’s Rising Star is Haydon Walters (centre) from BGC Thatcham Garden Centre. He is seen here with the other four Rising Star finalists.

Tong Garden Centre won The Worrall Cup which recognises the best marketing and community iniative.

Above: Terry Head with the last bag of Evergreen peat-based compost. Right: For the best overall planteria, the Ruxley Rose Award went to Cowell’s Garden Centre (Destination Category) and Squires Garden Centre, Hersham (Garden Centre Category).

February 2024 9

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Primeur: the home of doormats As one of the garden retail sectors most exciting suppliers, Primeur, which also has a 55-year heritage in the world of doormats, is often the first to bring new innovation and exciting design partnerships.


ith six million mats sold every year, the expertise of Primeur’s family team is unrivalled. From coir and market leading washable designs to the highly decorative Scrape N’ Sorb, the in-house team is dedicated to creating a mat offering that doesn’t just meet the needs of garden retailers, but more importantly, identifies new sales opportunities. What’s more, with the company’s dedication to the responsible sourcing of raw materials, these are mats that tick the boxes when it comes to environmental and ethical best practice.

Forget what you know about mats With Primeur, mats are not simply a commodity range but through thoughtful product development, exciting manufacturing partnerships and new collaborations with artists, mats become a must-have home accessory. Whether enticing shoppers to increase the average basket spend or maximising gifting sales, Primeur is the perfect go-to supplier. 01274 518800

Jenny Douthwaite, Primeur MD, said: “Our passion for doormats and our continued mission to bring innovative new designs and more sustainable material choices to market is why we have supplied to everyone from department stores to high street retailers, online, mail order and garden centres. As we look ahead to 2024 we have created what we believe to be our most competitive offering yet. “Core, volume selling ranges have been complemented with new, trend-led designs, more sustainable solutions and innovation that elevates mats from a necessity to something of beauty. We create mats that fill the gaps left by other manufacturers and are proud to do so which is why we are now making our Spring Fair debut. We want retailers to see a new side to the doormat category and recognise that they can drive profits in a way they might not have previously realised, including the ability to hand-select those products that best suit their consumer demographic. From gifts to home accessories, let’s make 2024 the year that doormats top the bestseller charts.” Supporting garden retailers further, it has also been confirmed that Primeur’s door mat offering can be cross-category ordered with its recycled rubber garden ranges.

February 2023 11

Industry research

Delving into o custom mer perception


here is perhaps an assumption that because the garden retail industry has plants at its heart and revolves around ways of improving outdoor spaces, that it is naturally environmentally friendly. But is this the case? GTN was curious to find out what customers really think, and with the help of the HTA, some interesting findings have been discovered. Back in December, the HTA carried out its annual consumer survey with YouGov to keep track of the market and participation levels in garden and access to gardens. Done annually, it offers the HTA a rich seam of data to drip feed into its PR, identify trends and insights for its members and help with evidence to prove the size of the market when talking to Government and policy makers. Back in 2021, the survey asked two questions about how environmentally friendly customers perceived retailers to be. This included diy stores and fashion outlets. The same question was asked again in 2023, and although the figures don’t differ massively, they still show that customers believe garden centres are on the right track. “The key message is that consumers have high expectations of all brands/sectors to be doing their bit for the environment, and interestingly not just the younger consumers,” says Laura Jeffrey, HTA Market Research Manager. “Garden centres are well placed in terms of consumer perceptions of current environmentally-

12 February 2024

friendliness but this also means there is a greater expectation for garden centres to be getting it right or having further to fall.” Although the sample included shoppers who don’t visit garden centres, the 52% that did, thought them to be above the UK average for environmental friendliness. “It’s encouraging to see consumers viewing garden centres/garden brands as ‘greener’ than the other industries tested against,” says Laura. Many garden centres are already doing great ir customers what they are things to tell thee••r doing in terms of sustainability and regeneration. “I think there is a level of concern about ‘greenwashing’ and overclaiming which often results in not shouting out too much,” says Laura, but the figures prove that consumers are listening and that more stories are definitely worth telling.

Garden centres perceived as much more environmentallyy friendly than other retail sectors

How important do you think it is for each of the businesses/ industries to be environmentally friendly?

How environmentally friendly do you think the following industries currently are?

Garden centres • 81% Yes (84%) • 7% No (6%) • 12% Unsure (10%) DIY stores • 78% Yes • 8% No • 12% Unsure Fashion retailers • 78% Yes (85%) • 9% No (6%) • 13% Unsure (9%) Automotive industry • 80% Yes (87%) • 8% No (5%) • 12% Unsure (8%) Supermarkets • 81% Yes • 7% No • 12% Unsure Discount retailers (eg B&M) • 77% Yes • 8% No • 15% Unsure

Garden centres • 46% Yes (46%) • 8% No (11%) • 45% Unsure (43%) DIY stores • 16% Yes • 25% No • 58% Unsure Fashion retailers • 7% Yes (9%) • 56% No (59%) • 37% Unsure (33%) Automotive industry • 9% Yes (12%) • 53% No (58%) • 37% Unsure (30%) Supermarkets • 11% Yes • 39% No • 50% Unsure Discount retailers (eg B&M) • 11% Yes • 39% No • 50% Unsure

(figures in brakets are for 2021)

On behalff of its tss members and d the industry ry, y the HTA regu ularly undert rtakes t re esearch proje ects ctts. s Its tss mo ost recent findings fii have shone a light on how environmen ntally friendly frr y customers perceive garden rettaiiling to be.

Community gardening

Nominate your local gardening project

If you know of a gardening project that could benefit from receiving a donation from Westland’s New Horizon Fund to help it thrive, nominate at new-horizon-fund

Westland launches new community gardening projects Applications for the New Horizon Fund are now open to communities across the UK and Ireland.


estland is inviting community groups from schools, allotments, hospices, and care homes, across the UK and Ireland to apply for a range of gardening essentials so that everyone can enjoy a thriving outdoor space and have the opportunity to get closer to nature. It’s New Horizon Fund will support projects with £1,000 (or Euro equivalent) of individually created prize bundles based on the project’s needs. Westland is home to brands such as Big Tom, Boost, Resolva, Unwins and Kent & Stowe, so there’s plenty of help to transform spaces. Three prize draws throughout the year, in March, June and September, will allocate at least five bundles at each stage, so there’s plenty of opportunities for local causes to be successful. The final closing date is 1st September 2024.

14 February 2024

Help the New Horizon Fund grow Growing media is the number one consumed gardening product and every time a consumer purchases a bag of New Horizon, they’ll be contributing to gardening projects that will greatly benefit from an improved outdoor space. Westland has also developed a variety of point-of-sale materials to bring to life the New Horizon Fund in-store, encouraging consumers to choose a bag of New Horizon next them they purchase compost. To raise awareness of the New Horizon Fund, Westland will be encouraging the media to spread the word and encourage consumers to nominate their local project. Articles about the New Horizon Fund have already been featured in QA Education magazine which is read by 20,000 teachers in the UK and The Carer magazine which is distributed to 15,000 residential care homes.



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GTN Greatest Christmas Awards

Busy Bee is the nations Christmas greatest Part of the GTN Greatest Christmas Awards in 2023 was the customer voting to find The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Team. We couldn’t believe just how many votes came in – it's a real testament to your personal interactions with customers.


TN received a staggering 18,919 online and paper votes for 333 garden centres vying to be The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Team 2023. Votes were spread across the UK, and we even had one for a centre in the USA! Huge congratulations to the overall winner, Busy Bee Garden Centre on the Isle of Wight. Just

when we thought we had finished counting, the postman arrived with a box filled to the brim with paper votes bringing the Busy Bee Garden Centre winning total to 4,746. The team really got behind this competition and the garden centre was easily a clear winner. In second place winning Silver is Cooks Garden

Centre where customers filed 2098 votes while the bronze winner, Bosworths, Burton Latimer clocked up an impressive 1,019. Congratulations to every centre who encouraged their customers to take part and we hope even more will vote next Christmas - we are already looking forward to the 2024 Greatest Awards. •

It’s a brilliant bronze for Bosworths, Burton Latimer who came in third.

Winners from around the country

quay Garden In the South West New t. ates Gre The is Centre

Birkacre Garden Centre is The Greatest in the North West.

Jacksons Garden Centre is voted The Greatest in Wales

16 February 2024

d is The Greatest in Scotlan es. seri Nur ro’s Mun

The Greatest in a Group goes to BGC Albrighton

GTN Greatest Christmas Awards

Cooks Garden Centre wins the shiny silver for second place.

The Top 20 as voted for by your customers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Busy Bee Cooks Bosworths Burton Latimer Garden King Jacksons Boutique Gates Southwood Garden Centre Birkacre Old Railway Line Trowell

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Pughs Rady'r Planters Tamworth Munro's Keydell Newquay Garden Centre Summerhill Azure Garden Centre Hillmount Belfast Allbrighton BGC Planters Bretby

Gold for Busy Bee Garden Centre.

February 2024 17

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards


Golden hattrick for Barton Grange

he powerhouse that is Barton Grange Garden Centre took home three gold awards and a bronze to recognise the work of its friendly but highly organised teams. Described as ‘Harrods and Fortum’s rolled into one’, its Christmas displays were inspirational but importantly, easy to shop. Divided into eight bays with their own theme, the team demonstrated its attention to detail by even changing the ceiling roof tiles to match. This earnt it a gold in the Greatest Giant Garden Centre Christmas Team category. A gold was also awarded for marketing team.

18 February 2024

Described as slick and professional, the team really knew their customer base and had a marketing plan that read like a corporate operation. Giant bespoke robins, each with their own names, hung above the beautifully merchandised pet and wild bird area highlighting the team’s creativity. Brimming with product, this indulgent space was passed through by everyone on their way to the restaurant and the sales team here were worthy winners of a gold medal. The team behind the Barton Grange retail food offering were also recognised, this time

with a bronze medal. Its beautiful food hall was given a massive Christmas makeover added to with a great butcher, amazing food hampers and extraordinary cakes. • Gold: The Greatest Giant Garden Centre Christmas Team • Gold: The Greatest Christmas Marketing Team • Gold: The Greatest Christmas Wild Bird & Pet Team • Bronze: The Greatest Festive Retail Food Team

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

February 2024 19

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards


Cooking up a gold

n Stourport, the team of Cooks Garden Centre worked together to make some great theatre in a small space with limited facilities. They earnt themselves a gold in the small garden centre category and by selling off most of the plant stock in autumn, they were able to take over the majority of the shop for Christmas. However the houseplant area was vibrant and a warm garden centre feel remained. After the festive season the team will stock up on fresh outdoor plants. Displays were great and social media was cleverly used to keep customers abreast of Christmas developments. • Gold: The Greatest Garden Centre (Small) Christmas Team

20 February 2024

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards


Gold for Harrogate

escribed as ‘enchanting’, the friendly team at British Garden Centres, Harrogate bring the magic of Christmas to this centre with limited retail space. Highly versatile, their ideas including cutting branches to form a tunnel, and having a piano in a display to be played by visitors, created a comforting Christmas atmosphere. Winning gold in the small group garden centre category, BGC Harrogate had a strong almost family ‘sense of team’ often hard to create within a corporate business. It’s outdoor catering van, with a great festive offering, was the perfect solution for providing visitors with refreshment when the space for an indoor café is currently not an option. • Gold: The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Small) Christmas Team


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February 2024 21

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards


Five is a magic number for Pughs

egardless of what department they worked on, the teams at Pugh’s Garden Village, Radyr pulled together at Christmas to make one big welcoming family. Their beautiful, shoppable displays were impactful and customers enjoyed the cohesive offering. Quite rightly, the teams are extremely proud of what they have achieved and can now celebrate with a gold award in the large garden centre team category. Across the car park tempting treats awaited in the centre’s food hall where staff had gone the extra mile. With a proud emphasis on retailing food made in Wales, the selection now even includes a new range of locally made Indian takeaway meals, and for Christmas a make-your-own hamper service. For this, the friendly team took home a gold medal. Also at Radyr the team looking after outdoor

22 February 2024

plant displays were awarded silver for the fabulous way it displayed its outdoor garden plants. The move from indoor to outdoor Christmas was seamless and the judges said it was hard to see where one department ended and the other began. Collectively the marketing team working across Pughs sites at Radyr, Wenvoe and The Garden Kitchen at Rogerstone won a silver in the marketing category for the highly successful use of influencers which is increasing the number of followers for each site every month. Judges recognised the young team really knew what they were doing and liked the coordinated feel throughout the stores. Also collectively the work behind preparing the menus for all three sites produced some creative and imaginative Christmas dishes securing a bronze award and great Christmas experience no matter which centre was visited.

Andy the chef had given everything a festive twist and the teams had organised special tasting evenings and breakfast with Santa. To top it off, Pugh’s Wenvoe site also gained a Highly Commended for its festive merchandising and promotion of gardening gifts. • Gold: The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team • Gold: The Greatest Festive Retail Food Team • Silver: The Greatest Outdoor Plants and Christmas Tree Team • Silver: The Greatest Christmas Marketing Team • Bronze: The Greatest Festive Garden Centre Catering Team • Highly Commened: The Greatest Gardening Gifts Sales Team.

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

February 2024 23


All three colours for Gates


ongratulations to the team at Gates for weaving Christmas throughout the centre and winning a gold for the imaginative ways it promoted gardening-themed gifts. By decorating Christmas trees with everything from kids gardening ranges through to tools, the team took this category to a new level. Sales proved that done properly and restocked regularly, it really does work. A silver was also awarded to the team for the beautiful Christmas journey they had created through the store with great flashes of inspiration like a backdrop of a house in Sandringham to create a royal room. Natural displays were housed in its barn while a coffee and churros bar added to the festive feel. A family run-centre proving that great things can be achieved on a modest budget. The centre’s tight knit but small marketing team impressed with the consistency of its great quality signage and marketing information. With a specialist photographer and video maker, the team has significantly improved its social media content to win the bronze Christmas Marketing Team award. • Gold: The Greatest Gardening Gift Sales Team • Silver: The Greatest Giant Garden Centre Christmas Team • Bronze: The Greatest Christmas Marketing Team

24 February 2023



Visit us at our inspiring showroom in Hertfordshire where you can explore the arboretum forest, walk around our lighting wonderland, and enjoy a Grillstream BBQ lunch in the LeisureGrow BBQ lodge. For showroom bookings or a virtual tour contact your local sales representative or call 01462 744500. Alternatively visit our showroom remotely with our immersive, highly detailed virtual guided showroom tour.

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Golden houseplants at Haskins, Snowhill


he team caring for the houseplants at Haskins, Snowhill have done a great job inspiring customers to buy plants as gifts and been awarded gold in the Christmas houseplant team category. At short notice they arranged for a new partition to become part of the sales area and incorporated classy lights to give a Christmassy feel. A humorous display, with its own fogging machine, responded to the trend for Venus fly traps and acrylic decorations too had been woven into the displays to keep them fresh and festive. Overall the whole Christmas team was recognised with a bronze for making the centre look fantastic even before visitors

26 February 2024

reached the front door. Creating a great first impression, added to with a gonk made from Christmas lights, the team was proud of its neat merchandising, colour themed signate and decorations in the till area and ceiling spaces. A Highly Commended Award went to the catering team for the excellent festive offering. • Gold: The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team • Bronze: The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Large) Christmas Team • Highly Commended: The Greatest Festive Garden Centre Catering Team

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards


Catering gold for Woodlands

t’s only by a massive effort from the whole team at Woodlands Garden Centre that a partially outdoor area has been transformed into a totally immersive Victorian Christmas catering venue. A worthy gold winner in the Christmas Catering category, the theme runs through the whole centre allowing visitors to enjoy the atmosphere before their afternoon tea. To maximise the venue, the team added brunch from 9am-11am and tables were sold out well

before Christmas. In the Twig and Spoon restaurant next door, Christmas lunches were popular and festive home-made cakes were tempting. At the entrance to the centre an impressive Victorian display with antique horse drawn cart added to the authenticity and a large, revolving home-made gingerbread house added fun to the Christmas display. In the outdoor plants area, a Victorian steam punk display came alive with vapour steam, while

the houseplant section was given a festive make over with great messaging, pots and other gift items weaved throughout the plants. All this made the team worthy of a bronze award in the mid-sized garden centre Christmas team category. • Gold: The Greatest Festive Garden Centre Catering Team • Bronze: The Greatest Mid-sized Garden Centre Christmas Team

February 2024 27

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Clever ideas win Squires a gold


he team at Squire’s Badshot Lea worked hard to think through its displays and messaging to give customers the best Christmas experience. Packed with clever merchandising and plenty of ideas for customers to adopt at home, Christmas was brilliantly displayed. Bold blocks of colour, multi-buy offers and bespoke themed planted up containers gave the centre a real point of difference and made it worthy of winning gold in the large group garden centre category.

• Gold: The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Large) Christmas Team

Golden inspiration at Polhill


ith its new indoor kitchen for weekend cooking demonstrations and devoted yearround space for bbq’s the team at Polhill Garden Centre has increased sales of bbq’s and accessories by almost half within just 18 months. Working together the team won a well-deserved gold award. Members of the marketing team organise and promote regular events including cooking demonstrations with bbq companies and social media influencers while at the weekends, Polhill’s Dave and Dan cook up easy and simple recipes (plus tastings) which are certainly enjoyed by customers. Promotion is helped with a new instragram account while meat comes from the on-site butcher.

• Gold: The Greatest Festive Season Outdoor Living Team The Solex Sizzle.

28 February 2024






GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Festive four for Old Railway Line


uccess for Old Railway Line Garden Centre’s outdoor plant and Christmas tree teams has come in the form of a gold award. This fabulous planteria was full of great displays and photo opportunities with great smells that added to the atmosphere. Door displays were plentiful, alpacas and goats where an added attraction and as the team sold out of Christmas trees it took the opportunity to promote its bbq ranges. A gold too was given for the brilliantly devised video, The Magic of Christmas, which is written, acted, and produced in house. It’s already clocked up nearly 5000 views on Youtube. Watch the video at: uSJwPRfJZbo?si=Dz5tvBJCeH8FgPCr The team looking after the retail food offering maximised sales opportunities by displaying some of the lines in other

30 February 2024

departments. Judges gave the lovely team a silver award and particularly liked the cardboard box and planet-friendly ribbon option for the hampers and clever way food displays were taken right up to the tills. A bronze for the team looking after pet and wild bird sales recognised their great festive touches to elevate sales. An igloo made of milk cartons, nativity scene and a collection point for a local pet charity were just some of the highlights. There’s a welcoming pet café in a covered outdoor space too. • Gold: The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team • Gold: The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video • Silver: The Greatest Festive Retail Food Team • Bronze: The Greatest Christmas Wild Bird & Pet Team

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Silver for High Legh


t Klondyke’s High Legh Garden Centre the team were extremely cohesive and put their individual stamp on displays. Getting a silver award in the large group garden centre category team, members went the extra mile to create displays they were proud of and ensured the festive atmosphere was felt right through all departments.

• Silver: The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Large) Christmas Team

Silver shines from small spaces


he team at Poundbury Garden Centre perform miraculous feats to create a Christmas that covers every inch of space. Friendly and welcoming they were given a silver award for the best team at a small garden centre, and it is justly deserved. Displays were jampacked and the local/sustainability message was proudly shouted about. • Silver: The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team

Golden times for Birkacre


hristmas at Birkacre Garden Centre, created by the clever and creative teams, are a feast for all the senses which is why they took home a gold in the midsized garden centre category. Cleverly blending inexpensive lines with higher priced items to appeal to all pockets, festive scents fill the air, a video of snowy trees adds to the wintery scene, while interactive displays and photo opportunities get visitors fully immersed in the Christmas spirit. And what’s more, none of the displays are roped off - the

team encourages visitors to touch and experience everything….even the point of encouraging children to open a door to find the Grinch behind taking a shower! A highly commended was also given for their grotto with an innovative snow globe making machine and wintery walk ending in outdoor catering offer which offered freshly cooked pizza and mulled wine. • Gold: The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team • Highly Commended: The Greatest Garden Centre Grotto Team

February 2024 31

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Silver duo for Alton


ively events and new initiatives from the team at Alton Garden Centre’s BBQ World continue to entice new customers and it now has a staggering 35,000 followers on Instagram. Winning a silver award in the bbq and outdoor living category the team has introduced its own Alton’s spicy meat rub, bbq Christmas hamper, new seating area in the demo space and reintroduced its loyalty card initiative. A second silver was given for the

humorous Elf in BBQ World Christmas video which the team loved putting together. A hit on Instagram, it was well produced, it showed the antics of a mischievous elf running amok among the bbqs. Watch the video at: https://www. • Silver: The Greatest Festive Season Outdoor Living Team – The Solex Sizzle • Silver: The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video

Gift of silver for Newbridge


t Blue Diamond’s Newbridge Nurseries, the team maximised sales opportunities from end caps with a Christmas tree on everyone. Each was decorated with gardening accessories and clear signage highlighted products as perfect gifts. Island displays were also first class.

• Silver: The Greatest Gardening Gifts Team

Artful silver for Garsons, Esher


he Art of Entertaining at Garsons, Esher, was the theme running through all departments this Christmas including the food hall where the strength of the offering and theatre led judges to give the team a silver award. Farming and food heritage was evident, the team packed Christmas impulse food into other areas of the centre and curated a massive choice of food items for festive gifting. • Silver: The Greatest Festive Retail Food Team

32 February 2024

There is still time to place your Christmas orders! Please contact our Sales team via or call +44 (0)1235 424100

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Brimsmore walks away with gold


ow the team at Brimsmore Gardens managed to create its Christmas display, described as a ‘visual feast’ in one week was a mystery to the judges. Not only that, how they managed to squeeze in so much stock is to be marvelled at. Emphasising sustainability, the displays included the owner’s (Mike Burks) own trainset, much loved by younger (and older) visitors and a festoon of paper chains. A one-way system brilliantly manages customer flow, with many customers circulating more than once, which takes customers through the Christmassy displays of houseplants promoting the value of plants as gifts. Ceiling space is maximised and a free gift wrapping service is much appreciated by customers. • Gold: The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team

Natural silver for Glendoick


ith numerous photo opportunities dotted around, and lots of tempting treats at every corner, the Glendoick Garden Centre team, which was so welcoming, had brought Christmas to the whole store. By using copper piping, conifer trunks and natural materials, a tasteful

outdoor woodland feel dominated. In the food hall, local produce was a speciality while outside a quality range to brighten up any garden was offered. • Silver: The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team

Gold mine in Chessington’s grotto


gold goes to Chessington Garden Centre for its magical walk-through experience taking children through different worlds including under water and through a giant mushroom forest. All the displays were put together by the team which also, this year, came up with a character mouse who was the centre of A Christmas Calamity, a film made by the centre, and

34 February 2024

who popped up throughout the displays for children to find. Judges praised the team and the incredible detail and quality of the displays. A Grinch-themed Whoville quiz was included, there were 15 Santas and 85 elves on hand from 9am-8pm throughout the festive period. • Gold: The Greatest Garden Centre Grotto Team

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Santa delivers silver to Wentworth


t Wentworth Garden Centre, the team certainly know how to put on a classy show. Every inch of the centre is merchandised with Christmas being subtle in some places and celebratory in others. Rather than adopting themes, the silver award winning team used big trees to great effect for selling decorations in single or mixed colours, and clever shelves supported in the branches offer a perfect spot for displaying baubles. Signage on brown paper strengthens the centre’s eco, home spun feel while a small lighting offer was made easy to shop by displaying the name of the supplier. Judges also liked the Christmas experience which took children on an outside journey to post their letter to Santa escorted by a team of elves. • Silver: The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team

It’s a bronze for Astbury Meadow


eceiving a bronze for small garden centre group is Klondyke’s Astbury Meadow where a strong and established team impressed judges with their artful way of interpreting the group’s Christmas themes. With colourful Christmas displays on one side of the centre and plants on the other they ably showed off their skills in merchandising. In the outdoor seating areas, tables were dressed and the plant area looked sharp. Dressing gazebos and painted towers, the team weaved Christmas through the whole centre.

• Bronze: The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Small) Christmas Team

Cambridge team take home bronze


t Cambridge Home and Garden, the team is busiest during November and December selling bbq pellets and charcoal. All year round it sells at its unique garden furniture and bbq showroom, plus online presence and this Christmas it twice sold out of Ooni pizza ovens.

The team was awarded bronze in the bbq and outdoor furniture category and reports it has definitely seen an uplift in sales for these items at Christmas. • Bronze: The Greatest Festive Season Outdoor Living Team – The Solex Sizzle

February 2024 35

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Silverware for Bents


atering went over and above this year at Bents with a Continental style Christmas market sited outside and in the open sky planteria offering a range of food from fish and chips to crepes and ice cream. The team won a silver award for the festive atmosphere boosted with music and a mixture of wonderful smells in the air. Its team looking after pet and wild bird products also swept up a silver award. Recognised for its dedicated full size pet store and pet café, judges said everything was ‘top notch’. Great displays, beautifully done and fantastic retailing.

• Silver: The Greatest Festive Garden Centre Catering Team • Silver: The Greatest Christmas Wild Bird & Pet Team

Christmas throughout at Studley


udges were impressed with the cohesive team at British Garden Centres, Studley which really upped its game this year and consequently took away a silver award in the group small garden centre category. Christmas was apparent at the store entrance and clever ideas, such as displaying baubles on twigs, provided a real point of difference. Mirrors were used to great effect, the houseplant area was elevated with

36 February 2024

decorations and lights for linked sales and visual merchandising was first class. A bronze award was also earnt for the team caring for houseplants. Making use of the limited space, the team made use of height resulting in an amazing job. • Silver: The Greatest Group Garden Centre (Small) Christmas Team • Bronze: The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Winning plants and grotto at Coolings


huge amount of thought and effort by the team at Coolings, The Gardener’s Garden Centre had gone into making the planteria look like a living catalogue of Christmas splendour. Special offers on festively named plants, vignettes painted by staff, home-made planted containers and friendly faces helping with Christmas tree sales won the team a well deserve bronze award. At Coolings Lifestyle, the team also put together an alternative, fun grotto

on a jungle theme which cleverly moved to traditional Christmas. The team was recognised with a Highly Commended for its imagination and hard work which had gone into creating a rich jungle scene with great games to entertain visiting children. • Bronze: The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team • Highly Commended: The Greatest Garden Centre Grotto Team

A trio of awards for Newquay


aking home a haul of three awards were the team from Newquay Garden Centre. Houseplants are the first department visitors see when entering the centre and it was a delight. Earning a silver for the houseplant team it was filled with terrariums, for buying already made up as gifts or in kit form for green-fingered friends and relatives to make up themselves. A great selection of items from several departments from books to wild bird care, were used in special displays to highlight gardening as gifts and for this the team gained a bronze award. The trio of awards was made up with a highly commended for its outdoor leisure and bbq displays. Signage was great and the store has really upped its game here with a lot of thought going into the displays and a comprehensive range of gloves and bbq accessories being promoted. • Silver: The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team • Bronze: The Greatest Gardening Gifts Sales Team • Highly Commended: The Greatest Festive Season Outdoor Living Team – The Solex Sizzle.

February 2024 37

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Packing a punch at The Grange


abulous, if tiny, Christmas displays welcomed visitors to The Grange Garden Centre, a gem of a centre! Built by a team of three who took home a bronze award in the small garden centre category, displays looked like they would sit comfortably in a high-end department store. Judges loved the feel of the cafeteria, especially the ski lodge theme and the wood burner which added to the Christmassy atmosphere. The Family Event is a great launch for the Christmas season and this small team who have made themselves part of the local community have put this centre very much on the map.

• Bronze: The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team

Art in bronze for Garsons Titchfield


he Art of Christmas also ran through Garsons Titchfield where the team here had a great amount of input into ideas and displays throughout the whole centre. Winning a bronze in the large garden centre category, the team had to put up a second Christmas tree for

Grotto bronze for Keydell


n a massive scale, the walk -through experience at Keydell Nurseries Garden Centre is a much-anticipated local attraction enjoyed by up to 800 people a day. It’s a credit to the team who won a bronze award

38 February 2024

and add a new room every year. A highlight are Keydell’s own reindeers and a Winter Woodland Walk which adds another festive attraction. • Bronze: The Greatest Garden Centre Grotto Team

customers to decorate with a written message as the first was so popular, they also became artists in residence and able to show off their own work. • Bronze: The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team

Giant Bronze for team Tiptree


orking together brilliantly, the team at Perrywood Garden Centre Tiptree ensure pleasurable shopping topped off with a fantastic Christmas experience. Houseplants were fresh and included many unusual ways of making ideal gifts.

Tablescaping for the festive season was impressive and the decadethemed room Christmas displays showed how the teams were united in their aim for festive perfection. • Bronze: The Greatest Giant Christmas Garden Centre Team

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

BGC unwrap bronze


he marketing team did a great job of the 1.46 minute 2023 Christmas video for the British Garden Centres group. Winning a bronze, it’s theme of having everything wrapped up for Christmas took viewers on a journey from the home of two children, through to a garden centre and back again. Watch the video at: https:// • Bronze: The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video

Bronze for Dobbies video


ongratulations to the Dobbies group which won a bronze for its Christmas video. A short 20 second film, it shows how Dobbies garden centres have everything you need for a great Christmas. Watch the video at: • Bronze: The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video

• Choose from over 30 collections • Striking, bold POS header boards All varieties have been • We offer a range of stands that can hold up to 100 varieties researched to give you an of pictorial packets, and smaller half metre stands that excellent balance of stock can hold up to 50 different varieties. to maximise sales and profit. • Collections include Kings vegetables, flowers, pea & beans, sweet peas, and a range of organic vegetables, green manures and herbs from our sister company Suffolk Herbs.

To stock any of these collections, please contact our sales representatives. Chris Paul - Head/East Steve Brewin - South Norma Halifax - North Becky Rimmer - West

07827772900 07827772899 07827772901 07827772897

Vegetable and pea & bean stands: Height: 227cm Width: 90cm

February 2024 39

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Silver Santa Experience for Gouldings T

he team at Gouldings continue to excel when it comes to their Santa Experience. Not just a great grotto with a visit to Santa but also a complete fairground experience to complete the visit. George Goulding himself makes sure the displays are extra special for small children by regularly “walking” through the grotto on his knees! • Silver: The Greatest Garden Centre Grotto Team

Christmas Commendations With so much Christmas retailing excellence seen during our visits the judges insisted on awarding Highly Commended certificates to the following:

The team at Dobbies Edinburgh were Highly Commended in the Group Large Centre category.

The Festive Catering Team at Dobbies Tewkesbury cheered customers and judges!

The super friendly team at Mackenzie & Cruickshank were a commended Mid-Sized Centre Team

Munros in Inverness stunned the judges with their Small Garden Centre displays

The team at Pengelly continue to win Small Garden Centre Christmas Team awards.

The Real Christmas Tree Farm at Planters Tamworth a new dimension in Christmas Tree selling

40 February 2024

GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Thank you to The Greatest Christmas Sponsors Ever! Without sponsors we wouldn’t be able to make the 100 plus personal judging visits to the nominated centres in GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards. What’s more, each sponsor provides a prize for the winners of their chosen category. This year’s sponsors and the prizes they have given are: AMES will be giving £500 worth of stock to Cooks, Pugh’s, and Barton Grange as winners of the Small, Large and Giant garden centre categories. Glee have given two nights of hotel rooms at Glee in September to the winners of the Christmas Marketing team, Barton Grange. Kaemingk will be sending a complete dressed tree from their showroom to Birkacre and Busy Bee, winners of the Mid-Sized and Customer Voting categories.

MorePeople are providing £500 of recruitment consultancy to Pughs as winners of the Festive Retail Food Team Award. Noma by LeisureGrow are giving £500 of stock to Squires Badshot Lea, winners of the Group Large centre category. PATS are providing 2 hotel rooms for PATS in September at Telford for Bents, winners of the Christmas Pet and Wild Bird Care Award. The SOLEX sizzle award from LOFA of 2 hotel

rooms for Solex in July goes to Polhill. Stars for Europe sponsored the Christmas Houseplant category with Ivyline providing £500 of product to the winners, Haskins Snowhill. Three Kings by Smart Garden Products will be giving £500 worth of stock to Chessington, the winners of The Greatest Christmas Grotto Team. Woodmansterne will be providing £500 worth of stock to BGC Harrogate, winners of The Greatest Group Small Garden Centre Christmas Team.

Thank you to our team of expert judges who travelled the length and breadth of the country’ from Inverness to Weymouth and from deepest Suffolk to Caernavon. Trevor Pfeiffer, Jane Lawler, Nicci Gow, Anisa Gress, Roger Crookes, Neil Gow

February 2023 41

GTN Greatest Christmas Awards

Flashes of Inspiration While visiting the 100 garden centres entered into the GTN Greatest Christmas Awards, judges come across litt ttle t touches of magic which are nothing short rtt of brilliant. Here are some of their favourites. Obelisks ablaze with Christmas lights at Barton Grange Garden Centre. Both lights and obelisks sold separately nearby.

Everything you need to create your own wreath at BCG Braintree, plus a QR code to a video showing how to put everything together at home.

No indoor catering? No problem. BGC Harrogate offered warm drinks on tables outside the store and bought in a mobile catering van.

42 February 2024

GTN Greatest Christmas Awards

BGC Charlbury showed how to mask the ceiling and make the centre look like the big top while Christmas trees hung from the rafters at Klondyke Stokesly.

A Memory Tree at Garsons Titchfield helps with customer engagement and a local charity.

Wooden twigs and simple hooks artfully used to display baubles at BGC Studley.

At Perrywood Sudbury, lights are displayed with a numbering system to make it easy for customers find the product and price.

Understanding that not every house has the space for a big Lemax display, Woodlands Garden Centre used fire surrounds and dressers to create mini-Christmas scenes.

At Holt Garden Centre, shelving with product is used in the café to create more intimate spaces and provide another sales opportunity.

February 2024 43

Harrogate Christmas & Gift Fair Review

Ideas for Christmas 2024 While Christmas is still fresh in everyone’s mind, buyers headed to Harrogate in January to see what’s going to sparkle and shine this year.







7 44 February 2024

1. Infinity lights were a real success in Christmas 2023 with garden centres reporting strong sales. Fountasia has an increased range to offer consumers more choice this year. 2. dcuk helps make the most of late autumn sales with chestnut and fungi hats for its famous ducks. 3. Personalised snow globe decorations from History & Heraldry. Will this be the Bestseller of Christmas 2024? 4. Colour themed Decorus baubles from Kaemingk in plastic-free packaging 5. Winter wonderland magic from Gisela Graham. 6. Gonks in all shapes, colours and sizes displayed by Three Kings. 7 .Something for everyone on the Ascalon display.


Planting Manifesto ideas Alan Down, HTA President


general election and perhaps a change of government will have major implications for horticulture. Rishi Sunak has indicated that an autumn general election is his ‘working assumption’ and most pundits think this is now most likely. In preparation for this, the Horticultural Trades Association has recently prepared an Environmental Horticulture Manifesto. With 10 key priorities for success of our industry, it underscores the significance of green spaces, plant health, and sustainable practices, aiming to position the UK as a global leader in environmental horticulture. It also draws on a recent YouGov poll data conducted in December 2023, on behalf of the HTA involving Members of Parliament. Results reveal that 53% of MPs support the creation of a cross-government Office for Green Spaces. Notably, this proposal garnered support from MPs across the parties and is now the HTA’s lead policy ask. Key insights from this survey also indicate that MPs acknowledge the substantial benefits of the environmental horticultural industry in areas such as Jobs and Skills (82%), the Nation’s Health and Wellbeing (80%), the Economy (72%), and the Environment and Biodiversity (76%). With political parties currently writing their own manifestos ahead of the General Election later this year, the HTA believes utilising the value of plants is a key policy solution. I do encourage you to familiarise yourself with the manifesto which can be found in full on the HTA website and raise it when talking to prospective candidates in the run up to the election. We hope that, in publishing our manifesto before the major parties have published theirs, that some, indeed all of our 10 policy asks will be incorporated in their own manifestos. It’s worth bearing in mind and reminding politicians there are 30 million gardening enthusiasts, that domestic gardens occupy almost 30% of urban space and in England alone this space surpasses our National Nature Reserves by four and a half times! This substantial resource is significant for the environment and wildlife providing a habitat for thousands of generalist species that thrive in these green spaces. Supporting a growing nation of gardeners not only fuels local and national growth across the UK, but it is also a solution to adapting to our changing climate. Gardening and horticulture align with seven of the 10 government Environmental Improvement Plan goals and so we potentially have a very important part to play. Furthermore, environmental horticulture contributes to the well-established mental and physical benefits derived from spending time in nature-based spaces.

Priorities for a Future UK Government from the Horticultural Trades Association

January 2024

Find out more

The Horticultural Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation and welcomes all sectors of environmental horticulture. To learn more or join please visit: or email:

HTA Environmental Horticulture Manifesto – 10 key priority areas for a future UK government • Maximise the value of green spaces • Urban greening programme • International trade cooperation • World-class plant health regime

• Transition to peat-free horticulture • Green jobs and skills recognition • Water sector Strategy • Regulatory proportionality

• UK public procurement rules • Global leadership through R&D support

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Supply chain challenges – yet again. Have you secured your orders? Vicky Nuttall, Director of GIMA


new year and a new set of challenges besetting us when trying to get stock delivered from the Far East. Is anyone else getting a sense of déjà vu? The well-publicised re-routing of container ships to avoid the Red Sea and Suez Canal route for safety reasons will undoubtedly have an impact on the delivery of supplies into the UK, and the inevitable knock-on of this may be limited or delayed availability as the season unfolds. One freight forwarder was recently quoted as saying: “The recent attacks in the Red Sea have led to a significant change in maritime practices. With vessels still rerouting their paths around Africa, the new route adjustment will likely become the new normal in the shipping industry.” This change looks to be permanent for the time being, but the initial shock wave is certainly at the wrong time for our industry. Couple this with the timing as we hurtle towards an early Easter and, with that, Chinese New Year on Feb 10th, where factories close down for the celebrations, and we may see the overall issue compounded significantly if orders have not yet been placed. And there we were, thinking

things were getting back to a semblance of ‘normal’. Despite having been in a similar position before, we still have to ask what the implications might be because of these latest developments. For products that are best associated with the earlier part of the season, we expect most suppliers to be well stocked and ready for pre-season, so we anticipate the delays impacting those top-up orders later in the season. What’s more, it’s unlikely the issue will solely affect Far East finished goods. Those manufacturing here in the UK or closer to home will still probably be impacted by the availability of raw materials and components. Suppliers are reporting container delivery dates being bumped regularly, plus freight companies are adding distance surcharges and emergency protection guarantee fees, equating to around a 30% increase in costs. The decision as to whether to pass on these costs will depend on several factors, including the type of products and categories impacted, the suppliers themselves, and whether the market can accept the rise.

Recognising margins are already tight for everyone this year, we have no doubt that conversations around this subject may be challenging. Our advice remains the same – keep your communication channels open. Don’t hide away and hope it will all sort itself out; instead, look at the data, understand how it will impact cost and supply in both the short- and medium-term and report this back to customers as soon as possible. From here, you have the time to find a solution agreeable to both parties and perhaps it won’t be necessary should the pressure be alleviated sooner than anticipated. As the saying goes: “There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” For the retailers reading this, may I offer a straightforward plea - ensure you’ve secured your orders. If you leave it too late, suppliers will not necessarily be able to guarantee stock availability when you want it. This is particularly true of those high-ticket items such as garden furniture, with their slightly later selling season. I’m sensing a more just-in-time ordering strategy from retailers this year with their stock builds in these categories, expecting suppliers to take all the risk. It’s understandable, considering some of the overstocks experienced in the last couple of years, but I would urge anyone taking this approach, to think again. Help your suppliers to forecast sufficient stocks by confirming your orders sooner rather than later. All that said, we remain optimistic as we enter season 24. With a blank sheet before us, it is now time to write the story of the year ahead. We know as an industry we can tackle challenges, but here’s to hoping that what we are currently faced with is the pinnacle of our concerns this year.

Find out more

Journalists and social media influencers will be out in force at the Garden Press Event this month. Have you ensured good levels of stock to meet demand generated by media coverage?

46 February 2024

Any businesses interested in joining GIMA are invited to contact the GIMA team on (01959) 564947 or uk. Full details regarding GIMA’s multiple member benefits can be found at

The finest British brands, all in one Collection. E: 01373 462165


Summer is in the air Discover the latest innovations in outdoor living 9 - 11 July 2024 NEC, Birmingham

Garden Furniture | Barbecues | Shading g | Outdoorr Living g Accessories | Garden Decoration Garden Leisure Buildings | Outdoor Heating | Outtdoorr Health | Outdoor Entertainment

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