GTN May/June 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

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TV FOR 2022















We're all on the journey

to making a huge difference UK farms

Working together with local farmers

zero to landfill sites Production lines so clean you can peck your dinner off them


Working towards 100% recyclable packaging

Mental wellbeing

Feeding the birds, good for them, good for you!

Join us in doing a world of good


With our 5 year plan!

Demand for bird seed is set to soar this autumn as Peckish swoops back onto the airwaves with our biggest ever TV campaign. The £2m campaign is set to reach our widest audience yet across the UK - casting the spotlight on our Complete Nut and Seed Mix, an all year round mix that feeds three times as fast as standard seed mix.

When it comes to bird care, Westland is on a journey to making a difference, from field to beak! We’re working with local farmers to reduce food miles, removing 100 tonnes of plastic packaging this season and our BRC accredited factory is zero to landfill. The last year has seen more people embrace the simple pleasures of spending time in the garden and the mental health benefits of bird feeding are well proven. This is the perfect time for garden retailers to grow this category.

Our Peckish Natural Balance range now has 100% recyclable packaging at curb side, providing the ultimate convenient and environmentally friendly option for consumers. The brand uses zero single use plastic in the range and has focused on creating new refill solutions for our energy balls, encouraging shoppers to think about how they purchase and use bird seed. Peckish Natural Balance Food range is naturally good inside and out.



TV FOR 2022




CONTEMPORARY RANGE Bird Bath & Small Bird Feeder

100% FROM

BRITISH FARMS Gardman’s new Homegrown Harvest range brings true innovation to the category as the only 100% British sourced seed range on the market. Homegrown Harvest is an environmentally conscious choice for the consumer, given its short journey y from the field to beak. With 100% recyclable packaging, Homegrown Harvest is a feelgood choice for wild bird lovers, delivering premium quality and positive environmental credentials. ss..

Contemporary Design

Small Colourful Birds

TRipod Stand

With new consumers spending time and money on their gardens, Westland’s striking new contemporary bird feeding range ‘Aura’ will beautifully furnish any garden space. This eye-catching range includes the Aura Small Bird Feeder and Aura Bird Bath - stunning new garden designs which will attract small, colourful birds to feed.




+!%($- )&#'" !,*(

leaf season

is growing

12 days longer since 2000

GROWING SEASON 30 days longer


Autumn equivalent to

april sales

of all gardeners cut back & tidy up*




Compost Maker

30% of consumers make their own compost but most aren’t getting riid of waste effectively, which is damaging for the environment. Westland’s new and improved Garotta Compost Maker makes better quality compost quicker than before. A premerchandised DQP display solution iss available ensuring high visibility and encouraging impulse purchasing. Choose Garotta for a healthy, more sustainable garden.

KENT & STOWE Capabbility Trowel

The game chang ging stainless steel Capability Trowel has a serratted edge for weeding and opening compost ba ags, plus a pointed tip for tackling tough soils. Itt has an accurate planting g depth scale for eassy planting and a strong ham mmer attachment fo or anchoring in posts and stakes with easse. Avvailable with a free estanding displlay uniit, this tool is easy to merchandise.

Kent & Stowe HAND Bulb Planter

A traditionally styled tool made from lightweight carbon steel and a beautiful ergonomic ash handle, the Hand Bulb planter is a key autumn line for Kent & Stowe. With a 10 year guarantee, its serrated edge makes planting bulbs an easy and enjoyable task, aided by a 4” measurement scale. Autumn DQP is available. *2020 Westland RHS Autumn Survey. † Westland Sales Data 2020. ‡ GFK Garden Care 3 yr sales value average. Aftercut All in One Autumn contains Iron Sulphate Heptahydrate. Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use.


of all gardeners plant bulbs*

Garden centres over index for autumn †



Aftercut® All in One Autumn kills moss effectively whilst delivering all the nutrients the lawn needs to withstand the cold winter months. It delivers an immediate greening effect and promotes a strong root system, resulting in a hard-wearing, healthy lawn. The 100m² size is available in a DQP and the 400m² as a pallet deal.


Smart Lawn Seed Fast Start is ideal for sowing in autumn as the unique seed varieties will germinate in cold weather, even when soil temperatures are as low as 7°C. Available as a DQP, your customers can make the smart choice for their lawns with Gro-Sure.


Safelawn is the UK’s fastest growing lawn feed. This child and pet friendly offer is ideal for use in autumn as it contains friendly bacteria that breaks down dead leaves and moss. Added grass seed will help thicken and establish the grass before winter. The 80m² Safelawn is available as a DQP and the 400m² as a full pallet.

DEADFAST SUPERIOR ROODENT CONTROL Take control of rodents this autumn with Dea adfast. Our rodenticides have no genetic resistance e, providing the reassurance needed when pe esky rodents invade the home. Our Catch & Rele ease range of traps and repellers offer humane solutions that are also safe to use around children and pets. The Deadfast range perfectly caters for every household situation.





EXPERIENCE ut the A te eking o urists se varieties lt u ic rt o h eding & latest bre

SUCCESS GUARANTEED All seed iss tested on

n arrival in our laborato ory, and samples fro m our parttner retaile ers retested throu ughout the season

INNOVATIV DISPLAYS E Develo ping new a

nd exc ititiin ng instore e offers rs.......


We are constantlly looking to improve our product offer, using market research and customer tre ends

...tto o maxiim m deman ise d and custo engage mer ment


Indoor Gardening


The new Westland Gro-Sure growing system m will help consumers achieve more success, w wititith th transparent materiall making roots visiblle to the the e eye, gardeners can simply check root growth h and thanks to specially designed moisture bridge cells, even watering is guaranteed.








Visibly b resultestter


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Advice & information for garden centre professionals

Dobbies Boston


Jan -April, 2017 - 2021

Before and After

2017 2019 2021 1 Non Peat Free Composts 1 Non Peat Products other than Composts 1 Peat Free Compsts

THE PEAT ISSUE Moving to a Peat Free future


Planters, Melbicks, Rosebourne Solihull, Notcutts Solihull, BGC Studley, The Berkshire Gardener

SEABROOK ON PEAT The other side of the story

Join us… Launching 14th June 2021... join us for our 2022 Collection Trade show. Visit by appointment only to view our stunning new outdoor living collection. The trade show will be held at our new UK Headquarters in Telford, within an impressive 800sqm showroom. You can expect to see stunning new ranges, extended Hartman favourites, including Dubai, Vienna and Heritage and join us in our fire pit snug Due to operating a COVID secure event, spaces are limited. Please book your appointment today, to ensure your visit. Book online:

Horton Wood 7, Telford Shropshire, TF1 7GP


Heading towards a peat-less future, but sales keep growing!


e’d always planned to dedicate this issue of GTN to the Peat issue but following the DEFRA announcement on 17th May that the government will be consulting with a view to banning peat sales by 2024 that goal became even more relevant. As a result, we’ve taken more time pooling comment from retailers and suppliers and attempted to pull together as much useful information as possible to help garden centre professionals answer their customers questions and train staff accordingly. Analysis of GTN Bestsellers Garden Centre Epos data, over the past 6 years, for the first four months of the year shows total growing media volume sales have grown by 20% since 2017. Breaking that down into, Peat Free, Non Peat growing media products other than composts and Non Peat Free composts (which can be 100% peat to only 20% peat), Peat Free composts have seen the biggest growth at 452%, but they still only account for 15% of all growing media volumes sold. Adding Peat Free composts together with other Non Peat growing media products such as top soil and manure they then account for 25% of growing media volumes sold which leaves us with 75% of current growing media ranges that need to be replaced or changed before any government ban comes into place. The problem is getting bigger, however, as gardening sales continue to buck all trends. We’ve just completed the GTN Bestsellers analysis for the first week of June 2021 and where we normally see the sales graph start to tail off, this year it went the other way and soared up almost to the highest sales week of the year. Within that data we can see Growing Media volumes are now 20% up on 2019 and 32% up on 2018 levels. The demand to grow in composts and the fervour for

gardening among a new audience means we need to get the alternatives, and the advice of how best to use them, spot on or we risk losing the biggest growth we’ve ever seen, overnight. As an industry, led by the HTA, we scored a huge win with re-opening and gaining essential retail status last May. We now need to work together with the same energy and co-operation to lobby for a sensible plan going forward and for proper funding for research into alternatives. If Pandora can engineer diamonds in a laboratory then perhaps there can be a way of manufacturing a substance as good as peat in high volumes in a factory too. After all, over millions of years peat eventually gets compressed and turns into coal which can then be compressed further to turn into diamonds. We’ve had great pleasure being able to get out and about to visit many centres in the past month, more than we can fit in this issue so please keep an eye on GTN Xtra at for more GTN Photo Tours. We look forward to seeing many more of you over the coming weeks and especially at Glee in September.

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 Associate Editor Mike Wyatt 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 Do you qualify for a copy of GTN?

Trevor Pfeiffer


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Potting Shed Press Ltd

In this issue...

Gatefold Westland Driving Growth 4 The Peat Issue – Retailer Comment 10 Woodmansterne – A fresh approach to card sales 12 The Peat Issue – What about the alternatives 14 The Peat Issue – Responsible sourcing for the future 16 The Peat Issue – Seabrook on Peat 19 The Peat Issue – How does Peat emit Carbon?

Peat Free growing media sales areas will be the norm in the fut ure

Garden Trade News is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd who also publish: GTN Bestsellers, GTN 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.

Director Trevor Pfeiffer

20 Dobbies Boston – Before and After 22 M42 Garden Centre Photo Tour – Planters, Melbicks, Rosebourne Solihull, Notcutts Solihull, BGC Studley 30 The Berkshire Gardener Photo Tour 31

HTA Column – Solutions please…

32 GIMA Column – We have achieved so much

SMALL PRINT: All material © Potting Shed Press Ltd 2021. 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.

May/June 2021 3

The Peat Issue

For Peat’s Sake… what the garden retailers say GTN shares information as to how garden centres are communicating with their customers about the peat issue and their ongoing plans for a peat-less future.

4 May/June 2021

The Peat Issue The PeatO-meter at Ayletts gives clear information to customers and allows for easy comparisons


his issue of GTN and all the Peat content was prompted by a comment from John Ainscow of Summerseat Garden Centre who wrote to us recently. He said “Lying in bed this morning I thought that the carbon stored in a peat bog is completely static, not decomposing. Perhaps when it is disturbed and has oxygen available then decomposition and the release of Co2 can occur. But surely it isn’t as simple as that, and this is my point, most peat finishes back in the ground so is it a gross overstatement to say all the peat used in horticulture releases all its carbon back into the atmosphere?” So we asked garden retailers – independents and groups, how they are approaching the topic with customers by posing the following questions. • How are you dealing with customer questions about peat and peat-free growing media? • What plans do you have for staff training and future moves towards the government’s Peat Strategy plan? • How will you be managing the sales of plants grown in peat-based composts when possibly you are unable to sell peat-based composts? • Do you have a feeling for who is buying the peat-free composts this year? Is it experienced gardeners that are switching over or new gardeners that are wanting to start off peat-free? Alan Roper, Managing Director, Blue Diamond, comments “We are starting the progress we have made to date with 70% of our growing media sales being peatfree. In addition to committing to 2025 as our zero-peat target date, we also state that we increased our peat-free alternatives from 7 products to 22 in 2021.” When it comes to managing the sales of plants grown in peat-based composts when possibly retailers will be unable to sell peat-based composts Alan Roper added, “I don’t see how these two points are connected, maybe in the minds of environmentalists but not your average consumer. I can’t control the transition challenges that the growers face to peat-free and I will continue to sell plants grown in peat until the growers complete the switch to peat-free. Our Bridgemere nursery is our largest supplier of hardy nursery stock to the Group and we will be accelerating the number

of plants grown in peat-free growing media where possible.” At Aylett Nurseries in St Albans, they have come up with a peat-o-meter to provide customers with guidance on the content of the growing media products in their range. Adam Wigglesworth, Director, comments, “Team member Louise Canfield came up with the idea of the peat-o-meter to quickly convey to customers the key facts on peat levels in bagged growing media. An increasing number of customers are asking questions about the level of peat in products so we wanted to ensure that they could quickly find out.” He adds, “Quite often the information on the packaging is vague and often on the rear of the bag which does not help matters and the team at Ayletts have worked with suppliers to get the peat percentage for each product. This is an ongoing job as batches change and we need to keep the point of sale materials as accurate as possible. It is easy to do with the peat-free products!” “There is a significant job to be done on the whole sustainability ity of alternatives to peat and the real impact of these compared pared to peat. We are a customer-led business and without ut going into a 30-minute discussion with each customer on the full sustainability piece our peat-o-meter provides an n answer to the most often asked question. stion. I am looking forward to the launch nch of the Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media shortly rtly which will scrutinise all ingredients ents on environmental and social parameters.” Paul Cooling, ooling, Chairman of Coolings, begins “I’m with John Ainscow on n the science – I don’t

Our peat-o-meter provides an answer to the most asked question.

Paul Coolings father was involved with trials into soil-less composts in the 50’s and 60’s, now he is wrestling with changing to peatless composts

The Peat Issue

Bloomin Amazing, a regular GTN Bestsellers Top 50 Growing Media line is now being stocked by Dobbies

understand it either. I think I’m right that a piece of coal could be buried again without harmful emissions and it retains its carbon until burned – please correct me if I’m wrong. “The fact remains though, that DEFRA and the Government have made the decision and we have to go along with helping to find alternatives. We have to educate the millions of gardeners (especially those new to the hobby) as to how best to use those alternatives. “I feel as though we are fighting the battle with one arm tied behind our backs as so many of the alternatives are less kind to the environment than using peat. This is made even worse when considering the results from alternatives are generally less successful at growing healthy plants and need more and/or different chemical (& even more organic) nutrients to sustain the crop. Just look at what is in a bottle of standard liquid or soluble feed then compare with the same brand’s organic counterpart, to see what I mean here. “My dad was among a small band of horticulturalists back in the late ’50s and early ’60s who spent a lot of time trialling soil-less composts as the industry norm of soil with added nutrients was so time-consuming to sterilise and so heavy to use. Not to mention that the ideal loam came from meadows that were not suitable for farm crops. Those meadows would be protected these days for the wildlife benefit and peat bogs, at the time were viewed as wastelands. Having the tough legislation to force the issue means that those who have been trialling alternatives will double their efforts but I do hope that, as an industry, we do not trip over our own feet in the rush. Many businesses make small tweaks over time to improve yields or reduce costs but this is a major change and mistakes will be made along the road to transition. “I have been in correspondence with several GCA members this Spring who still have their own growing operations and some have transitioned to peat-free while the majority, including Coolings, are still struggling. The biggest issue now is that peat-free is in such high demand

6 May/June 2021

The team are on track to be 90% peatfree in 2021 and 100% peat free in 2022

Groves in Bridport have a clear explanation of the peat issue on their website and use social media forums to engage with local gardening clubs

that there is very little available to anyone. What will the situation be like next year when there is even more demand? “And so here we are, having come the full circle – we all agree that we should not use peat and we all agree that the alternatives have downsides. Hopefully, the Government will realise that this is a serious issue and help support UK horticulture in the same way that it has supported the power industry and car manufacturing. Banning peat-raised imports will also help level the playing field for UK growers – apparently, the Dutch cannot understand what all the fuss is about! “I’m not sure that many of our customers would have the time (or the will) to read all the backstory to fully understand the current situation. Most customers just want to know what compost will give them the best results at the lowest cost. The days of cheap multi-purpose compost are numbered, I fear, as we will have to move to specialist potting composts based on wood fibre, and soil improvers based on manure and green waste. There won’t be any chipped bark for mulching as this would have already gone to the power stations!” Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director for Dobbies, said: “As market leaders in the garden centre sector, Dobbies is committed to educating about the importance of soil health and delivering environmentally-friendly practices and products, and sustainable solutions, having launched #sustainabledobbies last month. “A key part of Dobbies’ sustainability pledge is to reduce the use of peat in our product range. The team are on track with the commitment made to be 90% peat-free in 2021 and 100% peat-free in 2022 in relation to bagged compost. We have also worked with nursery suppliers to produce a roadmap for an annual reduction in peat use for growing plants. “We are working hard to communicate with customers in as clear a way as possible. Through our #sustainabledobbies campaign, we are sharing our peat-free messages, with content on our website, social media and in information, we share with media. We are rolling out point of sale in-store and also sharing this information with our team members, to ensure they are informed.’ Graeme Jenkins, CEO of Dobbies, adds, “As a business are very committed to the broader sense of sustainability. We have an obligation to keep customers interested and excited about gardening, especially if they are new to it. We are moving at pace towards a peat-free future. It’s our duty to raise awareness and promote better sustainability practices amongst our suppliers, team members and customers. We have introduced more peat-free products landing in-store including Bloomin Amazing and Carbon Gold.”

The Peat Issue Justin Williams, Managing Director, Fron Goch Garden Centre comments, “I think what is key is that we lead our customer base to a greener future. Therefore, regardless of the challenges, we must push ahead to stay ahead of our customer’s expectations. We have already, this year, taken steps to stop selling 100% peat composts and doubled our peat free range. We have strong displays encouraging and educating customers to move to peat-free. Two out of three hotspots are given over to peat-free products and we have strong multi-buy prices on peat-free products. “Our nursery is producing in 80% peat-free compost at present and we are moving towards 100% peat-free. Our aim will be to produce/source as many plants as possible grown in peat-free, until it is fully Squires use a simple banned.When it comes to working out who is percentage of compost (Melcourt) which has been buying peat-free v peat-based compost we don’t Peat-Free symbol absolutely fine, and I think goes a long have any hard data but it is very much age and on their growing media POS way to show our green intentions as a experience related. The older, more experienced business at a time when the retail side is gardeners are those that require extra information unable to do so.” regarding touch, feel and look.Younger gardeners are Martin Breddy, Managing Director of Squires naturally interested in gardening in a greener way.” Garden Centres, comments, “Our policy is to offer Charlie Groves, Managing Director of Groves choice and clarity for the customer, whilst moving towards Nurseries and Garden Centre “I think the change to peata fully peat-free offer ahead of the recently announced free has passed the point of return and is somewhat inevitable Government aspiration. We are encouraging our growers now so personally I think we are better off going for the to go peat-free, but need to work more closely with them green credential kudos rather than worrying about fighting before we can establish time-based targets. When it comes it. However, retailers are in a difficult and frustrating position. to customer enquiries about the sales of bagged peat-based Not being able to supply the demand that has built up has and peat-free compost we provide the following statement caused issues. It means that we need to be a bit careful about (from Squires Chairman Sarah Squire). going too far singing the praises and advertising something “Without doubt, there is a growing demand for peatthat we don’t have good supplies of. free and reduced peat composts. I now only use peat-free “There is an increasing number of people asking for compost in my garden and it works a treat. Most plants peat-free compost and there have been quite a few will grow just as well in peat-free compost as they would in customers now who are blaming a lack of clear labelling peat-based compost. in the past. This means that they are “Our policy at Squire’s is upset that they have unknowingly to offer a range of peat-free been buying peat-based products and reduced peat composts and contributing to the problem. that all provide outstanding “Supply issues aside, I don’t think growing performance. At the we could go 100% peat-free at this same time, we are actively seeking a sustainable, quality, peattime. I believe that with the base of traditional customers free source for our own brand of multi-purpose compost that we have there should be a period of “re-education”. A which we plan to introduce during 2022. We also proportion of our customers still actually ask for peat-based hope our suppliers will be able to provide the required compost and this is our chance to get the message across volumes of branded peat-free composts in 2024 to rather than just sending them to Morrisons the get the enable Squire’s compost offer to become wholly compost they want. peat-free, both own brand and supplier branded. “In terms of training and communication, we run our In the meantime, we have also introduced clearer compost yard with a full-time member of staff on duty communication at the point of purchase to ensure at all times for loading purposes and they have been fully that our customers know exactly the peat-free content trained to answer questions relating to peat and all of the of the compost that they choose.” team are aware of the current issues surrounding peat. We Matthew Bent, Managing Director of Bents are actively engaged with the local gardening club and with Garden & Home comments, “We are responding to various forums on Facebook that have been helping us with customers with the fantastic information from the trials of our own brand compost (Bulrush) which we are HTA and GCA when customers ask about our plans hoping to make peat-free when the current high demand for peat and peat-free, trying to explain the pros and drops. Hopefully, this shows what we are trying to achieve, cons of peat and peat-free. We are also using this as well as showing some of our more traditional customers in gardening clubs who may be more resistant, that peat-free for colleague training and briefings. “We as a business are currently following the compost can be a good product. HTA sustainability roadmap but this may change “I am not sure about sales of plants grown in peat-based depending on government legislation. On our compost, I think that will be up to the individual nurseries. nursery, we are reducing peat content every year But all plants grown in our nursery are now in peat-free

I now only use peat-free compost in my garden and it works a treat.

50-50, the peat-o-meter in action for Ericaceous Compost buyers at Ayletts St Albans.

May/June 2021 7

The Peat Issue and will be running trials with various plants in peat-free over the next year or so and understand what does and doesn’t work in peat-free.” Mike Burks, Managing Director, The Gardens Group comments, “We have briefed all staff about the peat debate and why it is happening. We have given training sessions too and have been peat-free in our nursery for a few years now so have first-hand experience of the challenges in growing in peat-free that can be passed on.We have been working with customers for many years (through talks, events, customer trials etc) highlighting the fact that peat will disappear soon and why this is. We have 30 peat-free composts and soil improvers in stock. These are the first that the customers see and we label them as peat-free and most have multi-buys. Peat reduced composts are still available as we believe that it is important to gently wean gardeners away from peat whilst still keeping them successfully gardening whilst they learn the new skills. “The big issue will be the shortage of quality raw materials to replace peat and the industry needs support from government to help with this including the ability to compete with the fuel industry who at present are subsidised whereas we are not. We also need help in accelerating research on new products used and this will include sphagnum moss grown on old peat bogs that are being regenerated. Get used to the word “paludiculture”! “There is also the need for education and a change in the jargon used around growing media. We should be using the limited resources of quality peat-free materials for potting composts and so we should stop using the term multi compost as this encourages gardeners to use those quality materials for a job that doesn’t require such material. For soil improvers, we should be using green waste which is just as good (for soil-improving - not great for potting composts) although work is needed in improving the quality of green waste so that debris including plastic and glass doesn’t find its way into bags. I would also say that we have lost the argument about peat and so there is little point now going through the old debates. We need to get on the front foot about the issue otherwise we will be branded as an environmentally dirty industry (however unfair that is) and so will spend the next decade on the back foot.” Roger Crookes, Garden Industry consultant says, “This is a complex issue – any attempts to offer simple quick solutions I fear may be ill-founded. But anyone who

Where to go for information

Tammy Woodhouse uses the Millbrook Blog to regularly talk to customers about compost.

We have 30 peat-free composts and soil improvers in stock.

The HTA have a number of resources, including FAQs, available for members to help you answer consumer and staff queries about the industry’s proposal on growing media and what Defra has announced in their England Peat Action Plan. It also includes the HTA Task Force Peat position statement on how to transition to responsibly sourced growing media and peat removal put together through working across the industry with partners including the Growing Media Association, NFU, Garden Centre Association and RHS. *Whilst the Defra announcements apply to England only, the topic may come up wherever you are. The recently re-elected Scottish National Party included a ban on horticultural peat in their manifesto. HTA members should log onto the HTA website for further information

8 May/June 2021

thinks that it is okay to plan to do the same as we have always done may be in for a shock! “Communicating with customers can be difficult especially via social media, However, I have cautiously joined in some passionate online discussions and have found that the vast majority of people appreciate a realistic objective approach. Outlook and expectation are everything in a situation like this – we need to have a ‘can do – will do’ attitude, if we only see and speak about the challenges we won’t get far … we really can do this!” Tammy Woodhouse, Manager Director, Millbrook Garden Centres, comments, “As an industry we are well aware of the shortfall of alternative growing media as peat is phased out of the supply chain. It is important I think to note that the industry acknowledges that the transition will require support from the government to accelerate research and development and the manufacture of peat alternatives in order to achieve the government targets and to marry this with the horticultural industry remaining commercial and competitive. “At Millbrook, we have already started the journey to ‘peat-free. This year for every type of compost we are now offering a peat-free alternative and are communicating this to our customers through point of sale, staff training and my customer blog from early March. Alongside this, we are monitoring the volume of peat that we sell to track this reduction. We have already decided to de-list any high peat content composts such as Jack’s Magic. “We have started to re-train our staff about how to recommend compost and growing media to customers and to have a greater understanding of the issues surrounding peat. We believe that we need to think about compost differently and as an industry change the terminology around growing media. We are encouraging our staff to think about ‘potting composts’ which could be peat or peat-free to use in pots and containers and

The Peat Issue To sum up….

We are grateful to all of those garden retailers who took the time to share their views with us (especially at such a busy time of year). What is clear is that given it is such a fundamental issue for the horticultural industry action is required as doing nothing is simply not an option. From the responses received many garden retailers are tackling this positively and engaging customers with the journey towards a peat-free future. It is not straightforward, there are issues around the sustainability and availability of alternatives to peat, as well as the wider consumer education piece about what growing media consists of and what it should be used for. But the dialogue continues and only through sharing information and being transparent with customers will progress be made.

to recommend peat-free soil improvers such as manure or mulches to use on the ground to improve the soil. Going forward we need to stop recommending peat-based products to use as soil improvers. It will take time to change the way we think about growing media and what customers are used to using in their gardens. This is addressed in the HTA document as industry-wide support will be needed to educate consumers. “On the question of peat grown plants, we will be working with our growers as they transition towards peatfree. Where plants are grown in peat-free compost we will be highlighting this to our customers. I think it is important that the growers are supported in this transition to peat-free and that there is a level playing field. For example, it cannot be acceptable for peat grown plants to be banned in the UK but peat grown imports from elsewhere are allowed. “Finally, in all of this, it is really important not to lose sight of the importance of gardening to the environment and peoples well-being and mental health. As an industry, we have a real opportunity to address this challenge positively and to educate our customers to make gardening more sustainable for the long term.” Andy Bunker, Director of Altons Garden Centre begins by saying “Well, where do we start ??”

“Following on from watching Gardeners’ World on 14th May anyone in their right mind watching that would never buy peat again. However, industry experts far more knowledgeable than me on the subject would disagree and reading John Ainscow`s piece again he makes some very valid point[s]. Not to mention Peter Seabrook`s stance on the subject constantly pointing out facts that go unmentioned in the defence of peat use in horticulture. “I can say surprisingly that I still have had very few conversations with customers regarding peat-free. Yes, certainly a little more awareness but considering all the media hype, not a lot. We will of course ramp up the promotion of peat-free however being a Tillington member we will be discussing ideas as a group - this is a tremendous advantage as it covers every minor detail. “Independently though I feel GLEE will be hugely important in setting out the road map for the future. One last thing that worries me personally is the one size does not fit all scenario! I remember many moons ago going to a large nursery stock grower up north where he had a trial on 3 perennials where we were looking at the finished plant ready for retail - 1 line was good, 1 was acceptable and 1 was ready for the skip. I fear little has changed in some 20 years with the same issue facing growers now on availability, consistency performance and cost.



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May/June 2021 9


A Fresh Approach to Increased Greeting Card Sales Burleydam and Rosebourne garden centres sing the praises of Woodmansterne’s W-Select Service as they increase customer satisfaction and card sales.


reetings card sales in garden centres have grown in relevance and volume recently, enhanced by the safe and secure shopping environment provided by garden centres. Analysis of Epos data provided to GTN Bestsellers indicates that greetings card volumes have grown by 40% since 2017 and by 31% from 2019 to 2021. With the growing importance of the sector as a factor of increased customer satisfaction, making the best decisions for supply, merchandising and management of greetings cards to maximise the opportunity is key. Burleydam and Rosebourne garden centres have recently moved their card buying and merchandising to Woodmansterne’s W-Select service. GTN has been getting the story behind their success.

We decided to move to W-Select for several reasons, including reducing our impact on the environment.

Rosebourne – a fresh approach to greeting card buying Rosebourne provides a unique lifestyle shopping and dining experience all under one roof at its three centres. Their gift and leisure departments provide plenty of inspiration for home & garden enjoyment and finding that special present. Buying Director, Stuart Whalley explains why they chose W-Select: “We decided to move to W-Select for several reasons, including reducing our impact on the environment.” “With all the cards being recyclable and both plastic and glitter-free the move makes perfect sense. Not only is the removal of the plastic sleeve a very visible and positive environmental change it also allows customers to see the quality of the cards.”

Stuartt Whallley & Caroll Pariis - Rosebourne

Below left: Smart Seal means no plastic packaging on Woodmansterne cards Below right: Emma Bridgewater cards for Woodmansterne

“We also wanted to simplify the ordering and a administrative process, therefore ensuring e shelf availability which increases both sales and stock turn.” “We recently moved our houseplant department to sit alongside the cards and stationery and this works very well from a gifting perspective.” “From initial discussions to final range selection the process was relatively easy and straightforward. Implementation in centres was smooth and easy to manage leading to a fabulous end result.” “Customer and colleague feedback has been extremely positive, with sales ahead of projection from the off.” Rosebourne CEO, Carol Paris adds: “We are extremely happy with the design, layout and content of our new card range. Sales are really encouraging and it is great to give our customers such a choice of different styles of card, without the use of unnecessary plastic sleeves.”

10 May/June 2021


Weeks 1-18 2017, 2019 & 2021








Woodmansterne is the perfect answer for Burleydam Burleydam is a third-generation, family-owned independent garden centre situated on the Wirral/Cheshire border. Following a major redevelopment several years ago, one of their challenges has been to encourage a younger customer without losing touch with their traditional, older clientele. Central to this has been the strengthening of their lifestyle & gift departments and the greeting card offer. “Previously, we managed our card selection and purchasing in-house, which gradually became more time consuming and less cost effective, ” explained Sally Cornelissen. “We discovered Woodmansterne at Spring Fair and their brokerage system, where the top-selling cards from many different publishers could be displayed in a cohesive range seemed like the perfect answer, and it is!” “Emma, our wonderful Woodmansterne sales representative visits regularly and replenishes best sellers, adjusts seasonal ranges, replaces any damages and tidies the stands. New lines are added periodically to keep our regular customers interested.”

“In February, Woodmansterne offered us a complete refit with a choice of fixtures to complement our store décor and the results have been astonishing. Not only does the department look great but sales like for like with 2019 are 69% up to date. Obviously, this is partly due to lockdown on the high street but we have noticed a continuation of increased purchasing since April 12th. Customer browse time has increased and multiple purchases are noticeably higher.” Sally Cornellssen - Burleydam

I would strongly recommend W-Select; they are a great com mpanyy to workk with. Paul and d Seth Woodmanssterne, the second and d third d geeneration leeading the brand that suppliess over 30 million card ds a year

“I would strongly recommend W-Select; they are a great company to work with and we feel like they are part of our team.”

Why Woodmansterne? Woodmansterne are a third-generation family business supplying premium greeting cards to leading independent retailers, all designed and manufactured in the UK. They work with the very best of British talent including National Trust, Quentin Blake, RSPB, and Emma Bridgewater. Woodmansterne pioneered the ‘Smart Seal’ in 2019, allowing them to remove plastic packaging from all their cards, saving a million pieces of throwaway plastic every week. Their cards are printed with vegetable inks on paper from sustainable forests and all their envelopes are made from 100% recycled postconsumer waste.

Why W-Select category management? Woodmansterne have become experts in visual planning and category management, working with leading retailers in the UK, meaning they can offer the following services: • A bespoke assortment tailored to your customers • A unique caption calculator ensuring the Get in touch! optimum product mix We would love to explore how • An assortment of designs from the very best we can help your business grow publishers Get in touch 01923 200 600 or • Regular analysis and reporting You can see more of what they do • Less admin, meaning more time for you and at your team

May/June 2021 11

The Peat Issue

No Peat – but what about the alternatives

It’s exclusively Peat Free growing media sales at the new Country House Group’s Windlesham centre.

The unprecedented demand for growing media reported by manufacturers and garden centres will make the transition to peat-free gardening more challenging than it already is. GTN investigates the peat free alternatives.


he core problem is the availability of the small handful of core raw materials suitable for making high-quality peat-free growing media – coir, wood fibre, tree bark and green compost (composted green waste and digestates).

Coir This material, a by-product of coconut farming, would seem to be the least problematical. It is regarded as sustainable and its use in horticulture is nothing new. Geoff Hamilton was advocating the use of coir composts more than 25 years ago and a number of companies, including the then Scotts Miracle-Gro company, have marketed coir or coir blend composts in the past. Most modern peat-free blends are likely to use some coir. Steve Harper, who chairs the Sustainable Sourcing Scheme steering group, is CEO of Southern Trident, which supplies a range of coir products under the Coco-gro brand name. “As we move away from peat, coir is the only product out there that you could use 100% to replace peat,” he says. “When I first joined Sinclair 22 years ago they had a product in their range called Golden Grow, which was 100% coir. It was a really, really good product. It was expensive at the time in comparison to others but it worked fantastically well.” Although coir does have its issues – transportation from Asia and the large volumes of water needed to wash salt from the fibres before processing – Harper believes its carbon footprint might be no worse than for wood fibre, taking into account the energy and pollution penalties incurred by heavy machinery needed to process the latter and the long transportation distances from felling site to production facility. As coir fibre is heavily compressed before loading, massive volumes can be shipped relatively economically. “By the time it gets to this country and we land it at the

12 May/June 2021

we will be unrelenting on choosing the right replacement materials

port closest to the factory, it won’t add many miles. For example, there are three manufacturers within 30 miles of Liverpool docks, so if we deliver in to there, the road miles are comparatively low.” Harper admits water usage remains a significant issue but says washing in water collected during the monsoon season could be part of the solution, as could washing the fibres in sea water. “We’re doing work on that idea,” he says. “It seems it washes out the salt but does not add any from the sea water itself.”

Notcutts are really making a peat free statement with displays throughout their centres starting at the front door.

The Peat Issue

price rises look inevitable and consumers will almost certainly have to get used to paying more Wood fibre and bark Melcourt, whose origins are in forestry, has never used peat and has developed its RHS-endosed Sylvagrow (consumer) and Sylvamix (professional) ranges using super-fine bark, wood fibre and coir. The company is also trialling other ingredients, like digestates. Melcourt’s MD, Andy Chalmers, says many professional growers have used their blends for nursery stock production with great success for many years. But, like other producers, he accepts that there are pressures on the availability of raw materials like wood chip, especially given the recent huge surge in demand. Competition from bio-fuel operations, which are subsidised, is significant and increasing – but the process does produce a waste product of small particles that Melcourt can use.

Green waste Peat-free market leader Westland stopped using green waste as a base material shortly after buying the Sinclair operation, substituting its own wood fibre product, West+, which is combined with coir and a bio-fibre in the New Horizon range. The company says its peat-free media are now as good as many peat-based composts and claims that in 2022, more than 80% of its volume will come from non-peat materials. “As we look to the future, Westland are confident that before the end of this decade, we will be effectively peatfree, but also, we will be unrelenting on choosing the right replacement materials which don’t just switch the carbon problem to a different material or continent,” said a recent statement.

But what Westland and others are looking for during the consultation period ahead of the governments proposed ban on consumer peat products by 2024 is an orderly transition to a peat-free future, for gardeners and growers (who currently have until 2030 to eliminate peat). It says it is “looking forward to seeing the detail from government on their stated commitment to end the current supply shortfall for locally sourced alternative materials. Our consistent investment in research and development has enabled Westland to bring proprietary peat-free materials to the home gardener and grower such as being used in the peat free standard, New Horizon. Processed green waste, though, is favoured by several manufacturers and Creative POS helps explain is a base ingredient (along with coir, wood fibre and bark) in the amount of coir in a the Happy Compost products from The Greener Gardening compressed block at Planters Company (TGGC), whose parent, Bord na Mona (BnM), Tamworth. shocked the Irish market when it announced it was pulling out of its pivotal market role as a peat supplier. BnM is the only major producer to run its own dedicated green compost site and expects to sell 7 million bags of peat-free media in 2022. TGGC has said that, while it will not open new peat bogs, existing stocks will continue to be used in peat-reduced products for now. Norfolk-based PlantGrow is among the companies producing soil improvers and plant fertilisers from plant material used in a renewable energy process. Sales and marketing director Ashley Day says that fact that the material is grown and processed locally gives them a clear environmental advantage over rivals who import or transport over long distances. If you’re looking for clear advice about sustainable growing media to pass on to Andy Chalmers surveys consumers, you should make a point of checking the stocks of Peat Free materials at Melcourts out the Evergreen Garden Care website Gloucestershire ( manfacturing facility. Fisons, acquired by Scotts and then Evergreen, started out on the road to peat-free back in 1992, when the peat debate began to heat up. Regularly refined and upgraded peat-free products have featured in Fisons Levington and Scotts Miracle-Gro ranges over the years and two years ago Evergreen launched Miracle-Gro Performance Organics peat-free media and plant foods that promise results to equal those of the original Miracle-Gro formulations. Less than 40% of Evergreen’s compost mixes now contain peat, and all packs indicate how much. A series of helpful videos designed to educate and reassure consumers about the transition to peat-free ingredients can be found on its website: look for links to: Sustainability>Your compost is changing. For all producers of peat-free media, securing supplies of raw materials will be central to their efforts to meet the government’s latest demands. Suppliers say price rises look inevitable and consumers will almost certainly have to get used to paying more for the end product, possibly ending the era of low-cost multi-buy deals. Peat has always been the cheapest and easiest material to work with – but will soon be consigned to history.

May/June 2021 13

The Peat Issue

Towards a responsible future As the UK moves towards a peat-free horticultural industry, the Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media will have an increasingly significant role to play.


he Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media, under the auspices of the Growing Media Association (made up of the sector’s leading manufacturers), aims to ensure that growing media are “made from materials that are sourced and manufactured in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible” and communicate this to end users. Thanks to the painstaking methodology required for benchmarking and product scoring, the scheme has taken several years to ready for launch – but some manufacturers are expected to be able to publish their first scores later this year. Consumer packaging carrying the scheme’s logos and scores could be in garden centres on 2021 stock. Members are now able to understand and measure how their choice of growing media materials impacts on seven criteria – energy use, water use, social compliance, habitat and biodiversity, pollution, renewability and resource use efficiency. Every stage of the product’s journey, from procurement of raw materials to delivery to retailers, will have been documented in precise detail. Steve Harper, CEO of coir products supplier Southern Trident, who chairs the scheme, says technical work on thee scheemee iss no ow comp pleete but will be reefineed and d improved as further data becomes available. A large percentage of participants have had their core materials scored and are working on the lesserused ingredients, while others are still collecting

Overarching logo for manufacturers and retailers to use for those who have joined the scheme and meet its criteria.

data. Meanwhile, the benchmarking has been set, so manufacturers who have been audited can now score their products. The scheme’s logos pictured here are close to what you will see on some next season’s packs from member companies. There are three elements – one a membership ‘badge’ and two to show the score, as follows: • Manufacturers who are sure they have only one formulation for a product and that the recipe will remain the same for the ensuing year will use the leaf logo, which shows the grade. • Where, because of, say, raw material shortages, there

ensure growing media materials are sourced and manufactured in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible

Logo to appear on bags so manufacturers can manage any change in scores and formulations. Consumers will be able to scan the QR code to take them to a web page to review the score.

is potential for in-season changes, a QR code will be used instead, directing consumers to a website for the defining score. The scheme’s rules of membership have been drafted and as GTN went to press were being scrutinised by the steering committee before roll-out. By the time you read thiss, enro olmeentt maay be und der way. Meanwhile, some manufacturers are already working on how they will incorporate the scheme’s logos and scores on packaging that will be filled during the winter ready for next year.

Grading logo for use where manufacturers can be certain the formulation and score will not change for that season.

14 Ma May/June May/ y/Ju June ne 22021 0211 02

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The Peat Issue

Peter Seabrook believes the garden industry should be doing more to put forward “the other side of the story” in the peat debate

Seabrook on Peat

Journalist and broadcaster Peter Seabrook, k,, whose columns in The Sun and regular contributions to trade and consumer magazines make him one of the best-read garden writers in the UK, K,, is no stranger to controversy. He believes the garden industry ryy should be doing more to put forw rward w “the other side of the story ry” y in the peat debate.


feel vulnerable being a lone voice in the UK. I am really upset that our trade associations are not speaking up for their members,” he says. “The GCA has announced that it is fully behind peat-free. I don’t hear anyone standing up for commercial growers who want to grow the best plants – or consumers who just want to garden successfully.” Peter is sceptical, too, about claims by the RHS, which recently announced its operations would eliminate peat by 2025, that its gardens were already 98% peat-free. “How can this be with Wisley Plant Centre, for example, receiving regular large deliveries of pot and container plants from the continent all grown in 100% peat composts? A long-standing advocate of the responsible use of peat in growing media, he believes that the ban on peat in horticulture is in danger of “throwing out the baby with the bath water”. “My view from the middle ground is that we should be able to continue to use some peat where there is not an acceptable alternative,” he says. “Experience teaches me that we can dilute peat with wood fibres by 25% without weakening performance. If we go beyond that, there are some disadvantages. It will be difficult to eliminate peat in all situations.” He champions the continued use of some peat in all growing media for seed sowing, cuttings and potting. “But for all other purposes, like improving the soil, mulching and filling raised beds, the alternatives are fine.” He believes

the trade should do more to differentiate between uses – growing plants and soil improvement. “Lumping it all together as ‘compost’ causes confusion in the minds of consumers,” he adds. Peter, whose garden trials of growing media span more than 50 years, says gardeners will need to learn how to use today’s peat-free products to get the best results. “The watering is trickier and nutrient leaching is a problem, so they need more and earlier feeding,” he says. “The blends also keep changing so we’re lacking consistency, which makes it difficult to know how to handle them.” He is a strong believer in the potential of raised peat bog to regenerate and produce new layers of sphagnum peat more quickly than the rate of 1-2mm per year often quoted by scientists. “I’ve seen it grown sufficiently for harvesting within 15 years on a site in Europe,” he says. He worries that the raw materials currently making up most peat-free mixes could carry environmental credentials that are no better than peat, and possibly worse. “For example, there is pressure on availability of wood fibre content from the biomass fuel industry and the building trade, coir has to be shipped a long way and some ingredients make the products heavier, which means thicker plastic bags and therefore costlier transportation. And some of these are less attractive in terms of carbon sequestration. Gardeners are in fact laying carbon into the soil.”

I don’t hear anyone standing up for commercial growers who want to grow the best plants – or consumers who just want to garden successfully.

16 Ma May/June May/ y/Ju June ne 22021 0211 02

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The Peat Issue





Aerobic peat


WT Anoxic peat

So how does Peat emit Carbon?

Carbondynamics in natural peatlands Balance: more carbon is removed from the atmosphere than emitted = sink

Our challenge was to find the best examples of just how using Peat in growing media causes a climate Carbon issue.


here have been many soundbites about the environmental issues related to the use of peat in growing media over recent weeks and months, but we’d not heard or seen any full explanation of just how extracting peat causes climate issues that have resulted in the governments plan to ban the sale from garden centres by 2024. Dr Florence Renou-Wilson from University College Dublin gave us the best explanation that in-order to extract peat from a peat bog it firstly has to be drained and “for every hectare of drained bog it emits 6 tons of CO2 per year, for ever if it stays dry.”

18 May/June 2021

for every hectare of drained bog it emits 6 tons of CO2 per year, for ever

“While wet, peat bogs are living organisms, and its when they dry out that the previously sequestered carbon oxidises and is emitted into the atmosphere as CO2.” Florence went on to explain that 6 tons of CO2 is the equivalent of three big SUV cars being driven around a one hectare field constantly for a whole year. “What we need to do to stop peat being a contributor to the climatic Carbon issues is to stop extracting peat from peat bogs and to re-wet all extracted peat bogs so that they stop emitting more carbon and start storing it again.”

The Peat Issue

Carbondynamics in drained peatlands under vegetation Balance: not enough carbon is removed from the atmosphere than emitted = small to large source




Drainage ditch

Aerobic peat


Anoxic peat


CH4 - Methane, CO2 - Carbon Dioxide, DOC - Dissolved Organic Carbon, POC - Particulate Organic Carbon, DIC - Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, Areobic Peat - Peat above the water line where the living plant material becomes the dead material ready for decomposition. Anoxic Peat - peat that always stays wet where the decomposition and sequestration of carbon occurs. Carbondynamics in peatlands cut for horticultural peat Balance: no carbon is removed whatsoever; only emission = large source





Drainage ditch

Aerobic peat


Anoxic peat

May/June 2021 19

Garden Centre Transformation

Making a statement at the front door. Customers were left in no doubt that the Boston garden centre was now owned by Dobbies

the team has done a great job and in a very short space of time” Graeme Jenkins, Dobbies CEO.

Covered planteria transformation with somee garden products and a concession moved from the main shop

The Dobbies Touch D A before and after GTN Photo Tour of Johnsons of Boston that is now Dobbies Boston. 20 May/June 2021

obbies bought their 71st garden centre in April, acquiring Johnsons of Boston from David Issac on Monday 18th April. They then closed the centre for two weeks to carry out a “Dobbies” re-fit including a Sainsburys shopping hall. The centre re-opened on 30th April, just in time for the May

Bank Holiday weekend. Customers were pleasantly surprised by the transformation and by 11:30am the Dobbies team had already signed up 2,500 new Dobbies Club members. GTN were lucky to be able to take photos before Dobbies bought the centre and on the first day of re-opening…

Garden Centre Transformation From giftware and silks to outdoor leisure with new lighting and roof struts painted white.

The Food Hall had been stripped bare before the handover. Now fully stocked and Sainsburys liveried.

Planteria transformation from metal self watering staging to traditional wooden staging on a super cleaned block paving flooring Making an entrance statement. Dobbies Boston now has houseplants in the entrance area instead of outdoor leisure and Customer Services

by 11:30am we had already signed up 2,500 new Dobbies Club members

May/June 2021 21

Garden Centre Photo Tours

Planters Rivero covered planteria creates a working plant nursery feel, incorporating water to each metal bench saving time and keeping the plants in tip top condition

M42 Garden Centre Road Trip


Just off a thirty mile stretch of the M42 between Tamworth and Mappleborough in the West Midlands are a selection of garden centres, all selling plants and gardening but all with a distinctive style and brand offering. GTN, together with members of the Glee Team, took the M42 road trip to see and feel the differences.



22 May/June 2021


Garden Centre Photo Tours



1. The completely covered planteria gets customers right out to the full plant displays and allows for plenty of relevant product placement. 2. A recent trip to Koopmans UK showroom yeilded plenty of summer outdoor fun activity products. 3. Planters had the widest range of garden lighting suppliers we saw on our road trip. 4. The lack of garden furniture to display has prompted some creative displays that are cross selling other arden products for outdoor leisure.



Planters of Tamworth

5 and 6. The new crazy golf attraction at Planters is already proving popular. Moutains are the theme and they are all to scale, starting at Ben Nevis, passing Mount Rushmore and ending at Everest. 7. Selling the story for Coir as a Peat Free replacement in the growing media sales area. 8. What a welcome! Planters may have many attractions but plants are the stars! 9. A comprehensive gardening shop area oozes authority and choice.

See the complete GTN Photo Tour of Planters Tamworth plus many more in GTN Xtra www. gardentrade


May/June 2021 23

Garden Centre Photo Tours

See the complete GTN Photo Tour of Rosebourne Solihull plus many more in GTN Xtra www. gardentrade



Rosebourne Solihull




24 May/June 2021

1. Rosebourne Solihull had the biggest and brightest display of Zantedeschias. “our customers just love them” the team explained. 2. Veg Trug displays ready to grow including the right amount of compost. 3. No shortage of Tomato plants here, and all the Tomorite you need to go with them. 4. Garden furniture, in stock NOW. Well it was when we called in. 5. The Rosebourne Kitchen Shop features many brands including Rick Stein. It will be extended when the refurbishment happens next year. 6. A stylish gift area making a clear statement that business has changed since the centre was bought from Wyevale. 7. Wooden garden furniture makes up for lack of imported weave and aluminium framed furniture.



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Garden Centre Photo Tours





Melbicks Blue Diamond

1. Sleeper plant “benches” give the planteria a very natural feel. The staff and customers love them. 2. Even in the covered planteria, creative displays are included to draw attention. 3. Houseplants at the entrance are very shoppable. 4. Natural Grower products stand out in the plant feed displays. 5. Topical POS messages add a friendly touch. 6. The Blue Diamond candle and diffuser range looks great and smells good too!


26 May/June 2021

Garden Centre Photo Tours

The well stocked gardening shop area at Melbicks gets the core gardening energy back to the centre after ranges and stock levels were reduced while owned by Wyevale.


7. By far the biggest outdoor furniture display we saw on our M42 Road Trip. 8. Making a statement about local provenance for plant sales. 9. The new Blue Diamond Kipling Patisserie & Prose has replaced the old Costa franchise. 10. Blue Diamond own brand products dominate in the Wild Bird Care area.

7 8


See the complete GTN Photo Tour of Melbicks plus many more in GTN Xtra www.gardentrade


May/June 2021 27

Garden Centre Photo Tours



Notcutts Solihull

1. Notcutts own brand growing media, emphasis on Organic and 100% Peat Free 2. Plenty of colour on offer for customers in the Notcutts Solihull planteria 3. Peat Free Compost sets the scene at the entrance to Notcutts Solihull sending a clear message to customers. 4. A great selection of gifts for Fathers Day, one of several Fathers Day displays in-store 5. Notcutts have had great success with Kadai this year, a new range for the group 6. Own brand Wild Bird Care is the order of the day at Notcutts too 7. Say it with flowers. Fresh flowers and floristry hits the senses in the entrance walkway at the centre which shares it’s car park with Tesco.




BGC Studley


1. Extra covered sales area has been provided at Studley via a marquee structure since it became a member of the British garden centres family. 2. Core gardening at BGC Studley is brand led, bright and well stocked. 3. The BGC Peat Free range includes Godwins Eco Supreme Evolution Peat Free Garden Soil. We presume this is a marketing conversion of just Godwins Top Soil previously. 4. The extra covered area provides a weather proof sales area for other gardening items. Note the BGC style Astroturf flooring on top of the block paving. 5. A wide range of jigsaw, puzzles, games and children’s books are now a staple of the BGC offering.


5 28 May/June 2021

Garden Centre Photo Tours



See the complete GTN Photo Tour of Notcutts Solihull plus many more in GTN Xtra www.gardentrade




May/June 2021 29

Garden Centre Photo Tour

The Berkshire Gardener


Aftfter t acquiring Ladds Garden Village in September 2020, The Granary ryy Group opened The Berkshire Gardener on the re-furbished site in March 2021. GTN called in recently to see how this lifesty tyle y garden centre has developed.


The Berskhire Gardener is a home and garden store, 3 focused on slow, natural living. Our ethos and principles lie at the heart of everything we do, and all of the products we stock are guided by nature


Above: The Toasted Crumpet’s watercolour designs adorn a range of stationary, chinaware and gifts


30 May/June 2021

1. The Vintage Garden Room ads a stylish range of home decorations and furniture. 2. Houseplants provide retail theatre as well as great sales inspiration. 3. There’s more to come at The Berkshire Gardener with stylish indoor and outdoor dining coming soon. 4. Even simple pot covers get the inspirational touch. 5. The entrance walkway though a carefully curated planteria sets the scene, this is above your average garden centre.


Solutions please… Boyd J Douglas-Davies, HTA President


ot problems! As a reader of GTN you can’t fail to have noticed how it has always celebrated the successes of our industry. The editorial team champion the solutions and never dwell on the problems. I have always admired that attitude to life and tried to instil it in the teams I work with. Anyone can identify a problem, but I much rather someone come to me with a possible solution as well as the problem. It might not be the eventual solution but at least they have started on the journey. Our industry seems to be attracting a lot of press coverage at the moment but more often than not they are trying to make out that we are ‘the problem’. Isn’t it time we started working together to educate the world? Let us show that plants and horticulture is the solution to so many things and we should be embraced. The HTA has immense quantities of data about the good our industry does; environmentally, economically and mentally. This data is available to members and I encourage you to use it. If we all work on local and national media messaging the good news will spread. The Million Planting Moments campaign last year was ambitious but not as big as the campaign running in the USA…. ‘A Billion Starts with One’ a campaign asking the world to get involved in tree planting. As they say ‘You Need Nature. Nature Needs You’. How big can we think? Horticulture is a major employer in the UK, with over 550,000 employed. We have immense opportunities to talk to the public through the millions of visits they make to gardens, nurseries, garden centres and garden shows every year. If

we adopted an industry wide message and used it at every opportunity we have a real chance to make a difference. Many years ago Dr Alan Knight pointed out that the airlines of the world were making much noise about how they were reducing their use of fossil fuels. Whilst their actions are to be applauded Alan’s point was that we are an incredibly green industry and yet we say little if anything to highlight this whilst others were laying claim to being the solution to climate change. The last 12 months has introduced new people to plants, with that comes expectations that we need to meet. The recent piece on Gardeners World, filmed at a peatbog, was emotive and will have stirred many thoughts amongst our customers. The primary question will be (and is, if this weekend’s comments on FaceBook are anything to go by) “why have you not got more peat-free compost options?” We all understand that the supply of raw materials is limited at the moment, are we explaining this to our customers? The issues we are facing need cross-industry solutions – look at the success the group of likeminded growers had when they set their minds to solving the black plastic pot problem. The government loves a cross-party committee so I’m sure they will take notice of solutions presented from the whole industry. Peat, plastics, plant health, importing of manufactured goods, labour shortages and more have all been written about extensively in the last few months. Let’s get away from the problems and start working on the solutions. With just a few months of my HTA Presidency left (doesn’t time fly!) I would love to see a forum come together that focusses on the solutions – negative people need not apply!

I would love to see a forum come together that focusses on the solutions – negative people need not apply!

Find out more

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

May/June 2021 31


We come to realise what we have achieved Vicky Nuttall, Director of GIMA


s the one-year anniversary of the Covid-19 crisis comes and goes, it still remains hard to believe that we have been witness to such events and such unprecedented pressures. There is no question that demand remains high, stratospherically high in fact, and this is continuing to place intense pressure on the supply chain. But we finally have a slither of light on the horizon as the world begins to open up once more and the consistent bombardment of orders is expected to plateau. Rest assured, we recognise the success story that garden retail has been when so many have faced rack and ruin, and in many ways, it feels remiss to complain. But with no let up since May 2020, the industry is exhausted and looking forward to a well-deserved break once a level of normality resumes. Between now and then however, we must continue to work together and to keep the lines of communication and transparency open. We have also had another Bank Holiday weekend to tackle, and I am sure that demand will continue to exceed expectation, with perhaps even more sales records smashed. Together we have achieved so much, and we should be incredibly proud of how we have adapted and forged new relationships and processes in the face of adversity. We also have a significant opportunity to continue to engage with this new, bigger gardening army, and to drive loyalty and continued sales this season and beyond. This is a growth opportunity we have never been faced with before so is vital we continue to capture it through hard work, determination and innovation. One aspect of normality which I know many are looking forward is face to face events. Online has helped to bridge the gap but there is no substitute for physical events and the sense of community that

garden retail is so often celebrated for. As the government roadmap out of lockdown comes into fruition many of these events are in touching distance including our own sold-out GIMA Charity Golf Day (June 9th, Belton Woods Hotel & Golf Course) which will be the first time many of us have been together in almost two years. It’s also great to hear that Glee will be making a return to inperson events in September, the first industry exhibition to do so. GIMA will, as always, be supporting the event with our GIMA Lounge and Buyer Connect event; an event which we know retailers are crying out for as they are eager to expand their supplier base and access more new product development to ensure that the existing and new customers are both catered for. Glee has always been a key event and I know that its absence has been felt. Later in the year we also have our annual GIMA Awards (November 11th) where we will celebrate the great and good that our sector has to offer. Bookings are already exceeding expectation and entries are flooding in from suppliers across the board who want to highlight bestsellers and new innovation from both the 2019 and 2020 season. It’s an exciting prospect to be throwing open the doors of the Celtic Manor to our members, judging panel and the wider industry once again. I for one cannot wait.

Together we have achieved so much, and we should be incredibly proud of how we have adapted

Find out more

For further information about GIMA, please call (01959) 564947 or email

32 May/June 2021

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2021 14-16 September NEC BIRMINGHAM