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Launch of super new competition

What’s new in plants

Food and drink advice from HTA Catering Conference p30

Award winning plants from the HTA National Plant Show p20-22

gtn NOVEMBER 2019

Seal of approval

Recipe for growth

Advice and information for garden centre professionals

Special report: Why RHS-branded products are becoming bestsellers


On the right track Spotlight on unique Afternoon Tea experience


On the right track for unique Afternoon Tea Experience With Afternoon Teas becoming such an important part of the garden centre experience, GTN is always on the look out for new catering initiatives that push the boundaries. Trevor Pfeiffer paid a visit to a unique offering in Cambridgeshire. Bannolds is a Landscaping Centre just off the A14, between Huntingdon and Cambridge, and renowned for its extensive and inspirational garden displays that show how the products they sell can be used. Now, it is also a very special Afternoon Tea venue, possibly the most special in Cambridgeshire and certainly the only one we know in the UK where food is served in immaculately restored Pullman Railway carriages, without leaving the station! The inspiration for Michael Attle’s Carriages Afternoon Tea restaurant came from a trip to India. “It started when I went out to India looking at different quarries and different products. I was taken by a supplier to an old colonial railway station with old carriages and a steam engine at one end in Nagwa. It was very impressive. “On my return to the UK I was offered the platform edges from Oakham Station. They were made of York stone and I bought them with the intention of selling them on but then I thought, I wonder if I could build a railway station and recreate the restaurant idea here. Six years later we’re now here.” Michael, who’s hobby is restoring old cars, has built a railway station, modelled on a Hornby station using reclaimed features from railway stations across the UK, he’s laid tracks onto which sit three impeccably restored Pullman railway carriages and a restored kitchen car, re-sited a working

2 November 2019

route of just Afternoon Teas because there is such a demand. We’re serving 100 covers a day on weekdays and then on Saturday 150 covers. That’s a lot of scones. “We’ve only been open 18 months and it’s really taken off, I’m really surprised. I always thought it would be a good idea because people like old railway carriages and the nostalgia of the steam era.” Continued on page 4

signal box and crossing gates. To top it all he has re-created a Victorian Kitchen Garden, complete with glasshouses moved from nearby Wallingford, and a steam engine that, with the help of a modern gas boiler heats them, for growing as many crops as possible for use in the Carriages Kitchen. The end result is a truly remarkable Afternoon Tea experience in a lovely horticultural setting. All of the food is cooked and prepared on site in the restored kitchen car, with both Afternoon Tea and High Tea options. Carriages High Tea, with its savoury additions is increasingly popular, and very filling (from personal experience!) as a lunch time option. “Our initial intention was to be more of a general café,” explained Michael, “but as Carriages developed we’ve gone down the



EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News, Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 Fax 01733 775838 gardentradenews@tgcmc.co.uk www.gardentradenews.co.uk THE GTN TEAM Editor: Neil Pope neil.pope@tgcmc.co.uk Associate Editor: Mike Wyatt mike.wyatt@tgcmc.co.uk Director: Trevor Pfeiffer trevor.pfeiffer@tgcmc.co.uk Publisher: Mandy Davies mandy.davies@tgcmc.co.uk Advertising: Alan Burdon alan.burdon@tgcmc.co.uk Ben Greenwood ben.greenwood@tgcmc.co.uk HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Tel 01733 775700 or email subscriptions@gardentradenews.co.uk Subscription rates UK: £145 Subscription includes a password for full access to GTN Online plus a weekly copy of GTN Bestsellers OUR PUBLISHERS GTN is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd, who also publish: * www.gardentradenews.co.uk website * Weekly GTN Xtra and Pet Trade Xtra newsletters * Garden Radio * Official Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News Online – the only official guides to the garden industry’s leading annual trade show SMALL PRINT All material © Potting Shed Press 2019. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information contained in this publication is published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Potting Shed Press Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on information contained in this publication or in the event of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cessation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.


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Michael’s grand-daughter, Emily, who runs Carriages day to day, told us that Saturdays are booked up for four months in advance. As a result Michael feels, reluctantly, he may have to start opening on Sundays soon just to satisfy demand. “My history is horticultural. When I left school I joined my Dad’s smallholding nursery. We were growing plants and cut flowers taking up to Western International and Covent Garden markets. From there we grew into selling small loads of topsoil, sand and aggregates and then Ground Force came on TV and we got inquiries for decorative materials as well. “I travelled around the country looking at different quarries seeing what was available and this all grew from there really. My idea for the display gardens was always to wrongly or rightly do the opposite of just internet selling. I thought it was important that people actually see the product.” Having created Bannolds Landscape Centre, Carriages is now in its own unique way providing a boost for their landscape materials sales. “Carriages is doing very well, better than I anticipated. But the landscaping materials is the major earner. What Carriages is doing is making people more aware of Bannolds, because it is a great self-advertisement.” And Michael is not stopping there. He’s just starting on plans to replace an old barn on the site with a new oak beamed building that will house a more general restaurant and farm shop retailing. Plus he has a couple of other old railway carriages that will be converted into retail units too. Coming from a horticultural background the question is whether this landscaping business with a very unique catering angle will start to sell plants when the new retail space is up and running. If he does you can be sure it will be done very well.

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“It is the attention to detail, that’s what it’s about. You need to sell something at its best, whether it’s paving or a plant it’s got to be in the best nick.” Carriages is at Bannolds, Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire, just off the A14. If you


want to stop off and sample their unique atmosphere and get some inspiration for your own Afternoon Tea experience be sure to call and make a booking first. www.carriagesofcambridge.co.uk www.bannold.co.uk


Annual turnover of £145m The 45 garden centre strong Choice Marketing Group held its annual conference and dinner at the Hinkley Island Hotel in Leicestershire last month. A total of 106 suppliers took trade stands during the conference. Fountasia, who have become a Choice Marketing Group supplier recently gained orders from a number of centres for their Christmas ranges. “The conference was a huge success for us,” said Fountasia’s Craig McIldoon. Creative Products’ Mark King also enjoyed a successful conference celebrating his GTN Bestsellers No 1 product ‘Bottle Lights’ which has now been at the top of the chart for four consecutive weeks. The Choice Marketing Group now represents £145m annual turnover. “We will be looking to add more centres next year,” said Choice CEO Michelle de Lavis-Trafford at the dinner where their supplier of the year awards were presented.

Woodlodge – Sundries Supplier of the Year. 4Woodlodge won the accolade for Sundries Supplier of the Year. 4History & Heraldry won Home & Gift

Supplier of the Year. 4Allensmore Nurseries were presented with the Best Plants Supplier Award. History & Heraldry – Home & Gift Supplier of the Year.

Allensmore Nurseries – Plants Supplier of the Year.


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Seal of approval Key garden product suppliers reveal why being an RHS License holder makes a huge difference to sales. As the RHS Licensing team launch an exciting range of new children’s products, GTN has been speaking with five of the existing RHS License holders who supply branded products to garden centres to find out just why RHS branding is so successful for increasing sales. Ian Cross at Mr Fothergill’s summed up the key benefit to retailers of RHS branded products. “The RHS is unquestionably the most respected and best-known brand in gardening in the UK. Their endorsement carries considerable authority and reassurance for the end user. “Our RHS range covers a full selection of flowers and vegetables so it works on its own or, if included with our main ranges, it gives wider choice to the end customer with non-duplicating lines. Ultimately, delivering additional sales of a quality assured product.” Peter Cooney of Gold Leaf Gloves, one of the longest RHS licensees, added: “RHS branding allows a retailer to offer their customers recognised high quality at excellent profit margins, which will generate customer loyalty and repeat purchase.” Kelkay, who have significantly increased their RHS ranges for 2020, told GTN: “Seasoned gardening consumers relate positively to the RHS, so they engage with the brand in the knowledge that branded products are of great quality. Our RHS endorsed ranges have been developed in partnership with RHS and so have the highest horticultural credentials built in.” At Apta, Sales Director James Hoad says: “Assurance of quality, a seal of approval and a reason to buy over other similar products, even if this carries a slight premium, are the key consumer benefits of RHS product branding.” While the branding has the potential to drive increased sales, merchandising them in the right way is key. “It is essential to make sure products are displayed with the RHS logo clearly showing,” explained Alan Frost at Agralan. James Hoad added: “Prime locations and dual siting where possible, always encouraging the customer to trade up are the best ways to get maximum sales.” Alan Frost also feels a display of different RHS branded products would be another great way to increase sales. “An RHS display would create a more visual impact, and our Agralan endorsed products do not compete with other RHS endorsed items.” Mr Fothergills also agree, provided it is a secondary themed sighting. “We’ve seen the use of linked sales of other RHS lines used to great effect as long as the whole display does not become divorced for where customer expect to find seeds,” explained Ian Cross. With all this potential for using the RHS branding to encourage new sales and tradeups it’s no surprise that the license holders we spoke with are increasing their RHS products for 2020. Kelkay have a range of RHS Inspirations water features which are classically designed taking inspiration from the RHS Lindley Collections and built from a lightweight composite with the appearance and texture of aged natural stone. The RHS Hanbury Arch and Hanbury Bench with planters were designed taking cues from a much-loved bridge in Wisley and our unique range of RHS bird tables have been named after three of the most iconic characters in RHS history.

6 November 2019



The new RHS children’s style guide on display at the Brands Licensing Europe trade show


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Apta have extended their successful indoor pots range plus new outdoor pots using Lindley Library designs. Mr Fothergills have added a selection of themed collection packets this season. This comprises 16 packets – eight flower themes and eight vegetable themes – created in cooperation with the horticultural team at the RHS. These are great value at a RRP of £4.99 for six varieties and present a range of different ideas to take away and grow in any garden. Themes include such things as: Container Growing, ‘Super Food’ Vegetables, Drought Resistant Flowers and Native British Wild Flowers. 2020 will see the introduction of new retail paper packaging at Agralan. “We feel very strongly that we must strive to eliminate single use plastic consumption,” said Alan Frost. At Gold Leaf Gloves they have improved the packaging and POS display stand to increase the impact of their award winning RHS Collection range and to explain why they are so unique. So what about the new RHS children’s style guide and how will that benefit garden centre retailers further in the future? The new RHS children’s style guide was the centrepiece of the RHS stand on its return to the Brands Licensing Europe (BLE) trade show after five years, and it has already inspired enormous interest – including a major publishing deal. The new RHS licensing style guide for children’s products encompasses four styles – the bold and sassy Home Grown and I Bug You and the traditional and timeless Flower Power and Trees & Leaves. All are

8 November 2019

Above: A montage of RHS childrens style guide images. Left: RHS Hexagonal Bird Table from Kelkay.

appropriate for many looks and themes designed to appeal to children. The guide builds on the charity’s success in both outreach for children, families and schools, and child-friendly events at its gardens and shows, also reflected in its recent update to the organisation’s strapline and logo with ‘Inspiring Everyone to Grow’. Now the charity plans to address this growing young audience through a strong focus on children’s products in the coming months. Among the main target categories for the children’s product campaigns will be toys, games, books, apparel and tools for young gardeners. In fact, with a number of licensees expressing interest already, the RHS was able to announce the first product


partnership at BLE 2019. The RHS Children’s Style Guide has already informed a major deal with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, for a new range of children’s titles for ages four and up. The range, which launches in spring 2020, will be available in bookshops and supermarkets as well as in garden centres and online. Cathy Snow, RHS Licensing Manager, says: “The RHS brand has a lot to offer children – both young gardeners and lovers of beautiful, colourful designs – and that is reflected in our new licensing children’s style guide. The new guide turned many heads at BLE and we are already dealing with enquiries about its potential across a number of categories.”


New launches for 2020 Apta’s long and successful partnership continues in 2020 with the launch of new glazed patterned pots based on designs from the Lindley Library, and an expansion of the ‘Interiors’ indoor pot range. Soon after Apta approached the RHS in 2011 with the idea for a branded pottery range, garden centres were naturally quick to pick up on the potential of the products, which were guaranteed frost proof, in a range of new colours, and with the RHS ‘stamp of approval’. Sales grew rapidly, culminating in the Apta RHS planters becoming the number one source of licensing revenue for the brand. Now into its ninth year, the range has gone from strength to strength to become the best-selling branded pottery range in the country, and raise over £1m for the Society in the process.

This year sees the introduction of several new products and in particular some exciting additions to the Interiors range, capitalising on the resurgence in popularity of houseplants. “We are very proud of our association and partnership with the RHS, and of our product range, which has really driven sales in the


planters category for several years now,” says Paul Sykes, Apta’s Managing Director. “We look forward to continuing this in the seasons to come.” 4To find out more about the best-selling pottery range in the UK contact Apta on 01233 621090 or sales@apta.co.uk.

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RHS LICENSING ABOUT THE RHS LICENSING PROGRAMME Working with the right partners to produce high-quality, beautifully designed products is at the heart of everything we do. We select our partners carefully and offer each one a tailored support package overseen by our experienced Licensing team. Within the RHS Lindley Library, we hold the world’s finest collection of botanical art containing more than 25,000 superb images. RHS Enterprises Limited uses this artwork collection and RHS gardening expertise to create and endorse inspirational products. In 2017 the RHS won the award for Best Licensed Heritage or Institution Brand at The Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards. In 2018, again at The Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards, the RHS Flora Apparel collection by COAST won the award for Best Brand Licensed Adult Apparel Product or Range.

RHS and Scholastic announce major new partnership

could not be better. Both the Scholastic deal and the new children’s artwork herald a major push for the RHS licensing programme into children’s products. The new range of children’s titles for ages four and up, which launches in spring 2020, will be available in bookshops and supermarkets as well as garden centres and online. Elizabeth Scoggins, Non Fiction and Licensing Publisher, Scholastic UK, says: “The RHS is one of the best-loved and most respected of heritage brands, with an unmatched reputation in gardening. We are delighted to be working with the UK’s favourite gardening charity as it brings its expertise and love for gardening to a range of publications that we are sure will be enthusiastically received by children and families alike.” Cathy Snow, RHS Licensing Manager (pictured left), says: “The RHS has always had a strong reach to children, families and schools, but its licensing programme had not reflected that – until now. This agreement with an internationally respected publisher, along with our new children’s style guides, positions the RHS perfectly to start to deliver dedicated, high-quality output to children across the UK.”

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced a major new partnership with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books. The deal encompasses a wide range of children’s publications, including sticker and activity books, handbooks, illustrated nonfiction, board and colouring books, annuals, e-books and journals. All the publications will make use of the vast range of expertise available to the UK’s favourite gardening charity as well as drawing on its work with families, schools and children, to offer entertaining, informative and beautifully illustrated books that will help to advance the RHS mission: Inspiring everyone to grow. This announcement coincides with the arrival of a new RHS style guide for children’s products encompassing four styles – the bold and sassy Home Grown and I Bug You and the traditional and timeless Flower Power and Trees & Leaves – and the timing

Contact and order details Agralan: Contact the Agralan office to discuss order requirements with the sales team 01285 860015 or email sales@agralan.co.uk Apta: The minimum order is £750 on any Apta pots (not just RHS). The range is available as ‘pick and mix’ so retailers do not need to order full pallets of any particular style or colour, and it is easy to make a small, regular order. Contact Apta on 01233 621090. Gold Leaf Gloves: The Gold Leaf range is unique and now widely

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recognised as ‘The World’s Finest Gardening Gloves’, being made from only the highest quality deerskin leather which is unmatchable, and offers the consumer the best available which will illicit remarkable customer loyalty and years of repeat purchase. Contact info@ goldleaf-gloves.com or phone 02380 402025. Kelkay: To find out more about Kelkay RHS branded products go to www.kelkay.com or e-mail salesenquiries@kelkay. co.uk or call on 01405 869333. The Kelkay RHS range is subject to a minimum carriage paid order value of £500 but can be combined with the rest of the Kelkay product range.


Mr Fothergills: Any retailer not listing the RHS range is missing the opportunity for incremental sales from a respected range that will complement whatever seed offering they may already have, whether from us or other seed suppliers. To enquire or place an order contact the Mr Fothwergills sales office on 01638 554111. These seed ranges are sold in collections. Once purchased seed can be topped up by line in a minimum of 5 of any one variety and a total minimum of 30 packets per order.


Adding category value The Wisley water feature was designed in partnership with RHS drawing design elements from the historic Lindley Library collection. Kelkay’s relationship with RHS began with the successful redevelopment and huge growth of their range of horticultural range of specialist sands and grits under the RHS banner. Sarah Winn, Group Marketing Director explains “Our experience with RHS on the Gardeners range demonstrated to us how the right brand licensing can transform a category – we redesigned what was a rather dusty and technical product category under the RHS banner and added effective merchandising. The resulting growth in the size of the category has been unprecedented.”

The successful RHS Gardener’s collection has benefited from a graphic refresh for season 2020 to ensure it remains in line with the RHS brand proposition.

The Hanbury Arch with planters was inspired by a wooden bridge found in RHS Garden Wisley.

Their experience with the RHS Gardener’s collection led to Kelkay’s even closer relationship with RHS and the identification of other categories in which the RHS brand proposition enhances Kelkay’s category expertise. The new partnership has driven their brand licensing relationship to an even closer level with RHS resources being used to inspire new product designs. The Kelkay design team had access to the RHS Lindley library as well as visits to the RHS gardens. The RHS team have been actively involved in the design and marketing plans around two completely new ranges for 2020. Sarah Winn said “We’ve learnt a great deal about the RHS brand values and relevance to garden centre consumers and it’s important that the products and designs we develop within the license partnership are carefully


chosen to support the brand. It’s much more than a license agreement, we are working collaboratively with the RHS and their ideas are as much a part of the project as our design and manufacturing expertise.” The RHS brand certainly conveys a quality and heritage matched by the bespoke premium products developed by Kelkay for their 2020 range. The RHS collection now includes wooden garden features including premium bird tables and RHS Inspirations consists of four stunning new water features. “Our objective is to drive up transaction values and increase category sales with the RHS collections – exclusively designed product of a high quality that encourages consumers to spend a little more. This helps to enhance the RHS brand equity, drives our sales turnover and increases business for our customers. It’s win-win for all parties.”

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RHS endorses Plankbridge shepherd’s huts The RHS has announced its endorsement of the entire range of Plankbridge shepherd’s huts – multi-purpose living spaces based closely on the proportions of original Victorian shepherd’s huts. The hand-built, practical and durable accommodation once allowed shepherds to live near their flock. Today the concept has inspired modern shepherd’s huts that have been adapted for a range of contemporary uses. The Plankbridge range appeals to a wide customer demographic, as a garden retreat, an extension, a garden office, a retirement studio, a spare room or a teenage den. The shepherd’s huts are also popular with leisure and holiday businesses, including hotel groups and glamping companies, which offer them as holiday lets. Most are made to order, although Plankbridge offers some that are made to popular specifications and supplied ready to buy. The RHS-endorsed range was made available in September. The huts can be obtained online or through in-person orders via the Plankbridge workshop. The endorsement will be indicated by an RHS logo, which will be displayed on a small plaque on the door of each hut. Plankbridge is the only shepherd’s hut maker endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society. From spring 2020, the RHS Garden Wisley’s Heather Garden will house one of Plankbridge’s

shepherd’s huts, giving visitors a chance to see for themselves the craftsmanship and skill behind these elegant dwellings. Plankbridge shepherd’s huts are made by craftsmen at the company’s premises in Dorset. They are built to last for generations. The Plankbridge team has supplied a wide range of shepherd’s hut designs to several National Trust properties, the award-winning Pig Hotel group and Hampton Court Palace garden and annually exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Strongly influenced by the best Victorian hutmakers and the

Arts and Crafts movement, Plankbridge keenly supports heritage craft skills and apprenticeships. Richard Lee founded Plankbridge along with his partner, Jane Dennison, with the aim of making the ‘finest quality huts in the UK’. He remains strongly influenced by the best Victorian hutmakers, whose design and craftsmanship informs the range of contemporary shepherd’s huts Plankbridge builds today. Plankbridge huts are now shipped all over the world – to New York, Portugal, France, Switzerland and beyond.

Designing recyclable and reusable products Agralan was formed in 1986 by Managing Director Alan Frost. The company offers practical and helpful products to gardeners and growers with a range of pest control and crop protection products, with an aim to minimise the use of pesticides. Agralan has always strived to encourage environmentally responsible gardening by designing products that are recyclable or reusable. The range of RHSendorsed products includes mesh for crop protection, fleeces, cabbage collars, plug plant trainer, Permafelt and insect traps. 2020 will see the introduction of recyclable paper packaging which will help with the reduction of single use plastic.

12 November 2019




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Making the right changes Associate editor Mike Wyatt agrees that the independent garden centre sector looks to have a bright future as long as owners make the right changes to their businesses. Can we now find something other than the Wyevale sell-off to talk about? Well, yes, I’m sure we can, but just for now, there’s still plenty to observe as we examine the UK’s dramatically re-drawn garden retail map. The top three chains by size – Dobbies, British Garden Centres and Blue Diamond – now control almost 160 outlets between them. The remaining seven players in the top 10 have another 109 between them. Most will now be grappling with surges in turnover and logistics challenges. Spare a thought in particular for British Garden Centres, whose 37 Wyevale acquisitions catapulted them into second place with 49 centres, behind Dobbies (69), but with a wider geographical spread of admittedly smaller sites. Graftedon growth of that magnitude creates its own particular challenges. The remaining Wyevales have ended up as part of smaller entities of between two and 10 centres, or single sites acquired by new entrants. Change is already apparent as new corporate colours are hoisted up the mast, but it’s not all cosmetic. In a number of instances, we are witnessing cataclysmic culture shifts as businesses re-set the parameters along lines more in keeping with the ambitions of independently-minded operators. Much of the change will be most keenly felt in staffrooms. We’re hearing stories of

14 November 2019

how new ownership is putting smiles back on employees’ faces. An upswing in customer happiness is sure to follow. As Wyevale chairman Justin King said in his recent GTN interview, the independent garden centre sector looks to have a bright future – if it can get it right. But what will customers notice? ‘Under new management’ signs add a layer of expectation that you can do it better than the other guys. You, on the other hand, are trying to maximise the return on your latest investment. How will you demonstrate that you really are better (apart from smiling more often)? This has been on my mind recently as I have watched a local garden nursery change hands (It was not a Wyevale group transaction). It had been painstakingly built up by its founder over a period of 30 years into a thriving, profitable sub-£1m business with an enviable reputation locally, particularly for the quality of its plants, around three-quarters of which were grown on site and offered at competitive prices. I can honestly say nothing I ever bought there died prematurely. If you wanted the best bedding, container plants or planted baskets, you made a bee-line for it, no detours required. Planning covenants restricted sales to plants and products directly related to their care, which had the effect of a precise focus on the core offer.


Here was a grower-retailer who loved what he did, who put in the hard yards in the difficult years to reap the rewards in the good ones and who knew that he would ultimately judged by the results you got in your garden. In an area in which there are at least three large garden centres within a 15mile radius (one with full A1 consent), the car park was invariably busy – especially after the belated addition of a coffee shop. Like many an independent operator before him, the owner’s decision to retire sparked a search for a new owner – one he hoped would cherish his baby and its enthusiastic corps of loyal customers. He found one who undertook to uphold the standards he had so carefully nurtured. He had links to one of the big local competitors. I have to say I have observed the subsequent changeover with mixed feelings and, on occasions, with a heavy heart, in spite of the following… 4The roadside signage is bigger and bolder 4As a result, the car park is more crowded than ever 4Footfall is clearly accelerating 4…and so, it seems, is turnover 4The new guy is clearly doing something right. However, on my recent visits, I am increasingly disappointed to find that plant quality has slipped, plant care is patchy and in attempts to maximise £s per square metre, the affect is one of a cluttered hard sell. If I want that, I can get it at the local market. Whereas before, plants at the end of their pack life were swiftly dispatched to the discount slot outside the front entrance, there are, on this day, too many poorlytended plants here that should have been in the skip days ago. They no longer look like they’ve been grow on site with TLC. I found it sobering that, in the space of barely two seasons, the personal touch that I and others valued so much had all but evaporated. But the customers keep coming. I suspect they’re different people, not the ones the previous owner knew by name, and perhaps they don’t see what I see. Perhaps they never experienced how good the plant displays once were. The new owner clearly felt the site was not achieving its potential and you have to admire the way he has created more sales opportunities within the same footprint. But – and for me, it’s a big one – it’s been at the expense of the warm inviting ambience and outstanding product quality that once made every visit a total pleasure. New owners and their teams up and down the country will be in the throes of such transition this autumn. They’ll all need to make a better go of it than that.


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Cultivation Street LAUNC

The end of the seventh year saw the cumulative prize total of Cultivation Street’s competition reach over £150,000 which has been awarded to schools, community gardens and gardens for better health. There are now over 300 garden centres nationwide with Cultivation Street Ambassadors, who are the point of contact to advise and liaise with local schools, gardens and community gardening projects. Also over 15,000 Calliope geraniums were given free of charge to children’s and community projects through the Garden Centre Ambassador Scheme, with thanks to the 2019 sponsor Calliope geraniums. Founder and organiser of Cultivation Street, David Domoney, said: “The power and influence of garden centres should never be underestimated. They are the front line of our industry that engage with the general public to inspire people to garden. I am also so proud of the Cultivation Street Garden Centre Ambassadors for the truly heart lifting work that they do with local children, neighbours and gardens for better health.” Here is a roll call of 15 of the winning ambassadors of the year for 2019: 1st place: Garry Bissett Inver Garden Centre, Northern Ireland 2nd place: Georgina Isherwood Dobbies, Kings Lynn. 3rd place: Dale Lainton/Graeme Heath Simpsons, Inverness. Highly commended:

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR: Gary Bissett Having worked at Inver Garden Centre in Northern Ireland for 22 years, Gary has been putting his experience to good use, helping youngsters at eight local nursery schools. And he’s won £1,000 from Cultivation Street for his dedication. He has been teaching kids how to sow seeds and grow to help the planet – and he also helps adults with learning difficulties and patients recovering from strokes. Gary said: “It’s rewarding as children are the gardeners of the future. As a parent myself, I think outside the box where funding is limited, using available resources.” JUDGES’ VERDICT: “Gary stood out for his dedication, enthusiasm and the time he spends helping youngsters to become greener.”

Runner-up: Georgina Isherwood

Emma Taylor/Janet Hawkings – Garden Store, Bromsgrove Zoe Stanmore – Dobbies, Southport Sophie Menjou – Haskins, Southampton Angela Fletcher – Notcutts, Rivendell Angela Murray – Dobbies, Liverpool Diane Mackintosh/Toni Middleton – Haskins, Crawley Louise Canfield – Aylett Nurseries, St Albans Matthew Lewis – Old Railway, Brecon Simon Haines – Sunshine, London Niki Miller – Langlands, Shiptonthorpe Jackie Barker – Notcutts, Solihull

16 November 2019



NCHES IlluminationStreet The run-up to Christmas this year sees the launch of Illumination Street, a national campaign to brighten up the streets of Britain with Christmas cheer. Created by Cultivation Street, Britain’s most successful Community & School gardening campaign (now in its eighth year), Illumination Street will motivate the nation to brighten up their front gardens with the spirit of Christmas. Organised by TV gardener David Domoney, it is sponsored by Safestyle and backed by the Sunday Mirror. The campaign is designed to enhance and celebrate the magic of Christmas with lights, plants and community spirit, which will coincide with National Illumination Street Awareness Week from 9th to the 15th of December 2019. From the 3rd November 2019, Cultivation Street Ambassador Garden Centres will benefit from free national publicity as ‘must visit’ destinations for lighting ranges and advice, plus plenty of Christmas ranges to embellish the homes and streets of Britain. The publicity surrounding the campaign includes Illumination Street TV, National Newspaper coverage, TV news coverage, online blogs, advice and a full package of social media platforms to encourage the nation to engage. David Domoney, the campaign’s founder, said: “it’s a perfect campaign to recognise and celebrate the great spirit we experience during the Christmas period. I remember as a child, the neighbourhood’s homes leaving their curtains open to show the lights on the Christmas tree to passers-by and as kids it was magical to see. Today, with the advance in technology, outdoor Christmas lights make a spectacular display; lifting our hearts and giving warmth to the community and neighbours. We want to encourage and

CATEGORIES Best Front Garden Large Outdoor Display 1st £1000, 2nd £500, 3rd £100 inspire the nation to brighten up their front gardens and streets this Christmas. Garden centres are the best port of call for someone to get started and we will be encouraging the public to visit Cultivation Street Ambassador Centres for the best advice and home and garden Christmas displays.” Martin Troughton, from Safestyle UK, said: “We are proud to support Illumination Street and the many people who bring a little light to our lives at a wonderful time of year. We are in awe of the incredible displays people create, some of which raise money for charity and light up people’s lives.” Cultivation Street Ambassadors now number over 300 and are affiliated with industry-leading garden centres like Notcutts, Bents, Webbs, Dobbies, Ayletts, Hilliers, Klondyke, Old Railway. Like Cultivation Street, the Illumination Street campaign will be holding a highlyanticipated national competition with a substantial prize pot up for grabs. There are no special requirements to enter, it’s open to the public and everyone who wants to spread the joy this festive season.


Best Front Garden Small Outdoor Display 1st £1000, 2nd £500, 3rd £100 Best Community Christmas Tree 1st £500, 2nd £250, 3rd £100 Best Children’s Window Display 1st £200, 2nd £125, 3rd £75 and 10 runners-up £25 Best Front Door Display - New front door Online Best Children’s Window Display 1st £100, 2nd £50 Online Best Front Door Display 1st £100, 2nd £50

GET IN CONTACT 4Illumination Street is looking to grow its Ambassador network and any garden centres that would like to get involved can contact us on 01926 641 997 or email info@illuminationstreet.com

November 2019 17


Making a world of difference As a new Greenfingers Charity therapeutic garden at Grace House, Sunderland, was officially opened by the Mayor of Sunderland, another Childrens Hospice, St Oswalds in the North East, was eagerly anticipating their own Greenfingers garden that will be started next year. The Nest and Rest Garden at Grace House, Sunderland – Greenfingers’ 58th garden project to be completed - was designed and created by Sean Murray, who most famously won the BBC’s Great Chelsea Garden Challenge in 2015. Working alongside landscaper Keith Ball, Sean transformed a previously blank space into a stunning garden that provides a range of sensory experiences, complemented by sweeping paths that provide a journey through the landscape, and spots of colour that brighten even the darkest days. This inspiring new garden will provide a peaceful place for relaxation and enjoyment for the seriously ill children and their families that call Grace House ‘home’. Sean said: “It has been a great honour and privilege to have designed a Greenfingers Charity garden. Having previously worked in the NHS and seeing the powerful difference a well-designed outside space can make, I hope that this new garden provides a special place for all those who spend time at Grace House to enjoy.” Victoria Brown, CEO Grace House, said: “We would like to thank Sean for his design and Greenfingers Charity and their supporters for the effort, patience and kindness they have shown Grace House. This stunning garden is now a wonderful space in which the young people, children and families who spend time a Grace will be able to enjoy for many years to come.”

Kew Green Hotels donate another £500 at the opening. The team from Holiday Inn Washington have raised over £20,000 for the garden and the hospice. The Grace House project would not have been possible without the generosity of the charity’s benefactors. As well as donations from grant-making trusts, local businesses have also been kind enough to dig deep, with Cowell’s Garden Centre and Johnsons of Whixley supporting the project. Elsewhere, funds were raised during the charity’s annual Garden Re-Leaf Day event, Rolawn, the ongoing fundraising and volunteering efforts of the endlessly enthusiastic Kew Green Hotels team and many other friends of Greenfingers Charity.

Greenfingers supporters celebrate the opening of the 58th Greenfingers Garden.

18 November 2019



The area where the new Greenfingers Garden will be built next year.

Bubbling with excitement

Designer Sean Murray and Grace House CEO Victoria Brown receive the Greenfingers’ opening plaque.

Across the Tyne at St Oswalds in Gosforth the Children’s Hospice team are bubbling with excitement about their new Greenfingers garden that will be started next year. Campaign Manager for St Oswalds, Nikki Wilkinson, tells GTN just how much the new garden will mean for the children, families and staff at the hospice. “Kacie is one of the children who benefits from regular short breaks at St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle. She used to love riding in the baby swings at the park near the Hospice, and as she grew the St Oswald’s team tried to help her continue the fun. “Soon, thanks to the kind supporters of Greenfingers Charity, Kacie and her friends at St Oswald’s Hospice are going to have their very own play area. With a wheelchair accessible swing, roundabout and trampoline and lots of beautifully designed play space, all the children will be able to experience the fun which their healthy friends take for granted. “Better still, the Greenfingers project at St Oswald’s Hospice will also benefit another group of children – those who are struggling to cope with the death of a parent, sibling or someone else they loved very much.

Greenfingers Chairman John Ashley in the Giants Chair at St Oswalds.


Nikki Wilkinson, Campaign Manager for St Oswalds. “Spending time outdoors is hugely important to these children. Tucked away, behind the Greenfingers play area is a ‘Secret Garden,’ a beautiful, very private outdoor space where bereaved children and adults can spend time with their thoughts. There is space to play games, a wonderful story telling area with a ‘Giant’s story telling chair,’ and lovely tree stump seats for the audience. “The Greenfingers team plan to link this Secret Garden to the new play area via a hidden path and a special little gate. It will be wonderful for children who have spent time talking about difficult emotions to have a complete change of pace and really ‘let off steam,’ in an exciting new play space. “Garden spaces make a world of difference to all the children who spend time at our Hospice. We are so thrilled that Greenfingers Charity are working with us to develop a wonderful play area which will be accessible to every child in our care. We can’t wait to get started!” 4To find out more about Greenfingers Charity, and how to get involved in a range of fundraising events email Linda@greenfingerscharity.org.uk.

November 2019 19



So much more than a buzzword, it’s a business imperative VICKY NUTTALL DIRECTOR OF GIMA

Anyone who visited the Glee exhibition in September would have been impressed by the efforts being made to bring sustainability to the fore. From tackling the single use plastic issue, to developing more environmentally friendly product solutions and improving the green credentials of packaging, it’s safe to say that sustainability was THE buzzword, and rightly so. But what we have to remember is sustainability isn’t just a trend for now…it’s not like the colour grey that is in vogue for a season or two before being replaced by the new “it” colour. Sustainability is quickly becoming a business imperative and may shape both the political and economic agenda for years to come. With consumers becoming ever more conscious of the impact their buying decisions have, the garden retail industry is now starting to step up to ensure our own longevity as well as that of the wider world. This is especially important in light of the government’s ongoing consultation as to the viability of a plastic packaging tax. Set to come into effect in April 2022, this new worldleading tax will be levied on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. If it comes to fruition, there is no doubt that this tax is going to force a change, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve come across numerous GIMA members who are already ahead of the game and are starting to introduce recycled plastic into the packaging of their core brands. Here at GIMA we are currently investing some time to establish the size of the ‘plastic’ problem and then

20 November 2019

provide some best practice and horizon opportunities to improve the long-term sustainability of plastic packaging, in particular flexible packaging which so many of our members rely on. Our aim is to propose a clear set of targets around its use and provide technical and supply chain support to member companies in order to help them achieve these targets. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of what some of our members are launching in recognition of the longterm importance of being a sustainable supplier. One GIMA member who has already made great strides in reducing the its reliance on virgin plastics is Evergreen Garden Care. The company has already introduced clearer recycling messages on all new products, and continues to support Common Sense Gardening, which focuses on how to recycle pesticide products. It’s also invested over €10 million into improving the company’s environmental profile for Growing Media and

Gardening Care products and packaging. Treadstone is another brand that has looked at ways to eliminate excessive plastic usage within its packaging. It’s new ‘Gardener’s Pick & Mix’ concept (pictured above) brings gardening staples such as plant labels, cane caps and shrub ties, together into a new retail concept. Utilising recycled cardboard boxes, consumers need only fill the box for a fixed retail price. Ireland based Hygeia, has taken steps to further strengthen both its own green credentials, and those of its retail customers and end-users with the introduction of its new refill retail concept. Available as a 20-litre pack, the new dispenser-style packaging is designed to enable consumers to refill their own vessels (maximum 1-litre dispense). In doing so, Hygeia believes that thousands of single-use bottles could be saved from going into landfill each season. Marriage Specialists Foods has launched a similar concept, ECOFILL Tubs for Life”. This new


initiative will mean consumers will no longer have to buy prepackaged bird food, instead Marriage’s will provide selfserve scoop bin bulk bird food dispensers, where consumers can take a reusable tub and fill with the bird food of choice time and time again. Another bird food company make changes is Henry Bell, who used Glee to unveil its new recyclable packaging, which they hope will reduce the dependency on non-recyclable packaging which most of the estimated 10million bags of bird food sold annually in the UK currently use. Elsewhere, Plantworks UK has also introduced new plastic pots made from recycled plastic for its Empathy Lawn Care products. Whilst Willow Wand is working with its partners, Floramedia, to move to non-plastic labels, as well as trialling biodegradable cable ties and plastic pouches for its mail order products. There is no doubt that this just the tip of the iceberg, and I know that so many other brands will be looking at the sustainable agenda and responding accordingly, with GIMA, of course, by their side to offer insight and help when its needed. So, whether you start with tackling your plastic usage, looking at new ways to recycle and reduce waste, or introduce greener alternatives or eco-friendly product solutions it will all stand for something. There is no doubt the world will look to the world of gardening – an intrinsically green sector – for ideas and solutions. Let’s show them exactly what we are made of! 4GIMA is here to hear the thoughts and experiences of its members, and would also love to hear from non-members also. Please share your experiences by emailing info@gima.org.uk

Profile for Garden Trade News

GTN November 2019  

GTN November 2019