3 minute read

HTA Column – Reasons to be Cheerful

R e a s o n s t o b e c h e erf u l

Boyd J Douglas-Davies, HTA President

At times it is easy to forget all the great reasons we have to be cheerful. When surrounded by world pandemics, nations at war, economic hardship... it’s not surprising when we find ourselves staring at the bottom of a decidedly empty glass. Despite all these issues we mustn’t lose sight of the wonderful things plants do for people across the world AND we must keep reminding everyone how great they are. Don’t for one minute think I’m shrugging off the global issues, they’re incredibly serious but let’s do our best to lift at least a little of the gloom.

Plants, be they towering trees or the smallest flower, have the ability to lift the spirit of anyone. Growing a flower in a pot on the windowsill, a tomato in a bag or a plant in the garden really is one of the most affordable hobbies you can have, in fact I can only think that walking is cheaper! The pound in the pocket may be facing new pressures this year but, as an industry, let’s keep reminding everyone how incredibly rewarding and affordable a little plant time is. Trade will be different compared to the previous 2 years, we have catering back open in garden centres – a guaranteed footfall driver. Furlough has ended, but not everyone has gone back to the office –the opportunity for selling plants for in and outside the home office is still there. Offices have reopened and they should be filling their space with foliage – have you approached any of the companies in your area offering a personal shopper experience for one of their team? Well-being has never been higher on the corporate agenda, how are you helping employers to improve their environment?

Maybe the market for outdoor living products will slow a little, but maybe it won’t! There was a large amount of unfilled demand in 2020 and 2021. This year has started well by all accounts and there will certainly be demand for accessories as new last years buyers complete the look. Overseas travel is going to take time to recover so the staycation is here to stay. Upgrading outdoor space will continue to support the all important landscaper community – a well designed and created space leads to many hours in the garden, which, in turn creates many reasons to buy plants. So, whilst the world is full of awful goings on, let’s not talk ourselves in to a decline. There are many reasons to be cheerful, let plants and gardening be one of the big ones. And finally.... what have an Austin Allegro, a Mercedes hatchback and peat-free compost got in common?

Plants, be they towering My first car was a 1.3litre Allegro – yes, it did go faster in reverse than forwards! 30+ trees or the smallest flower, years ago a 1.3l anything was pretty awful and have the ability to lift the not something I thought I’d ever relish trying again. But, thanks to a reckless white van spirit of anyone man, I’m currently driving a courtesy car... a 1.3l Mercedes. It’s a pocket rocket, a delight to drive, comfortable and does the job of getting me round the country really well. The connection with peat free compost? 30 years, even 10 years ago, it was pretty ropey and not something you would rush back to once tried. Now, it is such a different product... in many ways, perfect for the job. Don’t dismiss it without trying the latest blends, grow something in it, set up a demo area at work – growers will have been trying it for years already. Have you as a retailer or landscaper given it a chance or do you see it as the Allegro of growing media?

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The Horticultural Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation. It welcomes all sectors of horticulture – to join please contact services@hta.org.uk.