UK’s leading garden centres scoop top awards at GCA conference

The Garden Centre Association has this week (January 22-25, 2017) announced the winners of its annual awards.  Two separate ceremonies announcing the winners took place at St Andrews in Scotland on Monday, January 23 and Tuesday, January 24.

Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “Each year the standards just get higher and higher and our inspectors are constantly impressed with the progress they see across the board.  “During the past year our members have worked incredibly hard to reach and maintain the very highest of standards in garden centre retail excellence and I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone on their successes.”

Julian Winfield, the Chairman of the GCA and Chief Executive at Haskins Garden Centres Ltd, said: “We’re a diligent, committed, enthusiastic and hardworking industry and these awards recognise the very best garden centres in the country. Well done and congratulations to all our winners.”

The full list of winners to be announced on Monday, January 23 are:

  • Christmas Competition (Garden Centre category) sponsored by Gisela Graham – Castle Gardens
  • Christmas Competition (Destination Garden Centre category) sponsored by Gisela Graham – Barton Grange Garden Centre
  • Environment and Community Award – Garden Wise, Dumfries
  • Ruxley Rose (Garden Centre category) – Cowell’s Garden Centre
  • Ruxley Rose (Destination Garden Centre category) – Squires Garden Centre, Twickenham
  • Barton Grange Trophy for Commercial Creativity and Innovation – Haskins Garden Centre, Southampton
  • Customer Service Award – Best Customer Service – The Old Railway Line Garden Centre
  • The Indoor Lifestyle Award – Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (Garden Centre category) – Squires Garden Centre, Shepperton
  • The Indoor Lifestyle Award – Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton Grange Garden Centre
  • The GIMA Award for Best Garden Products Retailer (Garden Centre category) – Cowell’s Garden Centre
  • The GIMA Award for Best Garden Products Retailer (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton GrangeGarden Centre
  • Dick Allen Award (Most Improved Garden Centre) – Langlands Garden Centre, Loxley
  • The IFSE Award for Catering Excellence – Best Garden Centre Restaurant (Garden Centre Category) – Squires Garden Centre, Shepperton
  • The IFSE Award for Catering Excellence – Best Garden Centre Restaurant (Destination Garden Centre Category) – Bents Garden and Home
  • Weber Outdoor Living Award – Best Outdoor Living Retailer (Garden Centre Category) – Fairways Garden Centre, Ashbourne
  • Weber Outdoor Living Award – Best Outdoor Living Retailer (Destination Garden Centre Category) Bents Garden and Home.

The full list of winners to be announced on Tuesday, January 24 are:

Garden Centres of Excellence (top 10 in alphabetical order not order of inspection scores): 

  1. Barton Grange Garden Centre
  2. Bents Garden and Home
  3. Burston Rose and Garden Centre
  4. Cowell’s Garden Centre
  5. Gordale Nurseries Ltd
  6. Haskins Garden Centre, Southampton
  7. Haskins Garden Centre, Roundstone
  8. Simpsons Garden Centre
  9. Squires Garden Centre, Milford
  10. Stewarts Garden Centre, Christchurch. 

The Worrall Cup: 

  • The award for Best Marketing Campaign or Initiative will be announced during the award ceremony on Tuesday, January 24.

Associate of the Year: 

  • To be announced during the award ceremony on Tuesday, January 24.

Garden Centre of the Year: 

  • Cowell’s Garden Centre

Destination Garden Centre of the Year: 

  • Barton Grange Garden Centre

For further details about the GCA conference, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit www.gca.org.uk

Garden centres scoop top awards at GCA conference

Garden centres from across the country scooped awards at the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) 51st annual conference yesterday (January 23, 2017).

The awards were presented to the member garden centres during a ceremony at St Andrews in Scotland on Monday, January 23.

Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of our winners on their successes. It is clear that they have worked extremely hard during the past year to reach and maintain the very highest of standards in garden centre retail excellence. Our inspectors were extremely impressed with their achievements.”

The full list of winners announced on Monday, January 23 were:

  • Christmas Competition (Garden Centre category) sponsored by Gisela Graham – Castle Gardens
  • Christmas Competition (Destination Garden Centre category) sponsored by Gisela Graham – Barton Grange Garden Centre
  • Environment and Community Award – Garden Wise, Dumfries
  • Ruxley Rose (Garden Centre category) – Cowell’s Garden Centre
  • Ruxley Rose (Destination Garden Centre category) – Squires Garden Centre, Twickenham
  • Barton Grange Trophy for Commercial Creativity and Innovation – Haskins Garden Centre, Southampton
  • Customer Service Award – Best Customer Service – The Old Railway Line Garden Centre
  • The Indoor Lifestyle Award – Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (Garden Centre category) – Squires Garden Centre, Shepperton
  • The Indoor Lifestyle Award – Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton Grange Garden Centre
  • The GIMA Award for Best Garden Products Retailer (Garden Centre category) – Cowell’s Garden Centre
  • The GIMA Award for Best Garden Products Retailer (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton GrangeGarden Centre
  • Dick Allen Award (Most Improved Garden Centre) – Langlands Garden Centre, Loxley
  • The ifse Award for Catering Excellence – Best Garden Centre Restaurant (Garden Centre Category) – Squires Garden Centre, Shepperton
  • The ifse Award for Catering Excellence – Best Garden Centre Restaurant (Destination Garden Centre Category) –Bents Garden and Home
  • Weber Outdoor Living Award – Best Outdoor Living Retailer (Garden Centre Category) – Fairways Garden Centre, Ashbourne
  • Weber Outdoor Living Award – Best Outdoor Living Retailer (Destination Garden Centre Category) Bents Garden and Home.

Further growth for Harrogate

Harrogate Christmas & Gift 2017 exceeded all expectations once again with an increase in visitor numbers for the sixth year running. The show, which also had an rise in exhibitors having to open two new halls to cater for demand this year; welcomed almost 5,000 buyers through its doors – five per cent more than in 2016.

Simon Anslow, show organiser, said: “We are delighted that Harrogate Christmas & Gift continues to gain momentum. Since 2010 the show has been attracting a diverse array of new exhibitors with home and gift ranges as well as products to cater or diary events the entire year round.
Consequently, we have seen an average of five to eight per cent growth in visitor numbers year on year and once again we welcomed new buyers visiting for the first time. Feedback from both exhibitors and visitors has been extremely positive and we can honestly say that the show is now firmly on the map for UK retailers and buyers in festive, gift and visitor attraction sectors.”

Exhibitor Emma Wakeling of Floralsilk said: “We had a great show this year. We were rushed off our feet from Sunday through to Tuesday and good footfall continued on Wednesday.” Alan Pimm of Sifcon also reported a successful show stating: “We had orders and enquiries from lots of new customers and will definitely be returning next year.”

With two new halls opening for 2017, Hall Q and the Kings Suite, some companies took the opportunity to move to a new location and the Playwrite Group moved from its regular position in Hall C to Hall Q. Bill Cornelius of the company comments: “What a great show. We moved our stand position this year as we needed more space to show our Christmas range and we couldn’t be happier. We saw lots of new customers and many old friends, doubling our order take on 2016. This show is always the most fun show of the year and Harrogate never disappoints. The organisers did a great job and nothing seems too much trouble.”

Visitors also enjoyed a successful event with Jill Pattison of Sam Turner and Sons Ltd commenting: “We attended for two days and found it very worthwhile. It’s an excellent show in a great location with a wide range of products on offer and we placed orders on the day and picked up catalogues for consideration later. Harrogate is very important for us and vital for our Christmas buying. We will definitely be attending next year and hopefully for many years to come.”

Lindsey Brown of Thorntons attended Christmas & Gift for the first time and said: “I thought it was a great show and the diversity and quality of exhibitors fantastic. I’ll definitely be visiting again.”

The dates for Harrogate Christmas & Gift next year are 14th to 17th January 2018 and priority booking for 2017 exhibitors is from 1st to 31st March 2017. New companies wishing to participate in the show will be able to reserve space from 1st April 2017. Full information is available on the website at www.harrogatefair.com

An exciting 2017 anticipated for the new SBM Life Science business

SBM Life Science, formed following the sale of Bayer Garden to SBM in October 2016, has announced a partnership strategy designed to drive growth.
“Our vision for SBM Life Science is to become a worldwide leader for home and garden solutions, offering an innovative portfolio that will meet the evolving expectations of our customers,” explained Darren Brown, Head of SBM Life Science Limited.
“Following the finalisation of the acquisition of the Bayer Garden business back in October 2016, the new SBM team here in the UK have been working very hard to set up our new company.   We have not only been busy trying to help ensure a seamless transfer of business from Bayer Garden to SBM Life Science Limited, but of equal importance, we have spent a great deal of time talking to our valued customers and business partners.  During last few months the SBM team have met with a large number of customers, gathering the feedback needed to help build the new business in a way that will excite and meet the future as well as the current needs of the market.

Darren Brown

“A major way in which our new company will realise its ambitious vision will be by working closely with our customers in a true partnership for growth strategy, to jointly develop innovative plans that will positively shape the future.”

SBM Life Science already has leading brands such as Baby Bio®, Phostrogen®, Toprose and Provado® within its portfolio, and informed by the feedback from customers, along with a firm commitment to true innovation the company will be seeking to further expand its offer to the UK market.
To help customers begin to become more familiar with the business, the company has launched a simple new website, giving retailers a little further insight into the new company’s scale, know-how and ambitions.
The Website address is http://www.sbm-lifescience.co.uk
Darren Brown continued: “Every member of the SBM team in the UK is excited to be building up our new business, and is motivated by the aspiration of creating a true global leader in home and garden solutions.
“In the UK we have already started realising that ambition by strengthening and increasing our organisation to prepare us for an expanding future.”

GCA welcomes new inspectors

The Garden Centre Association has today (Monday, January 23, 2017) announced its three new inspectors who will begin visiting member garden centres this spring. Michael Cole, Gordon Emslie and Hedley Triggs will join current inspector, Roger Crookes, to complete the team for 2017.

Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Michael, Gordon and Hedley, who will be joining remaining inspector, Roger Crookes. The three new members will go through a thorough induction process before the inspection window opens to ensure the consistency of marking that we all expect continues.

“We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Alyson Haywood, Andy Campbell and Ian Boardman for their hard work as inspectors for the GCA. Andy and Ian had been visiting member garden centres for many years while Alyson was a relative newcomer, however they all leave with our thanks and best wishes for the future.”

Michael joined Notcutts Garden Centre in St Albans in January 1978 as a General Assistant, working in the planteria. He went on to become Centre Manager six years later. He was appointed as a Regional Manager in 1987 and oversaw the running of five Notcutts eastern region garden centre. In 2009 he became Business Development and Retail Property Director, overseeing the development of Notcutts’ award winning garden centre at Pembury, Tunbridge Wells and establishment of a new look Notcutts at Wheatcroft, Woodford Park, Norwich and Staines garden centres.

Gordon’s early career experience was in multiple retailing. Prior to setting up a consultancy business in 2006 he was a Store Manager, responsible for a team of 650 and sales of £100M per annum, and business coach within Sainsbury’s. As a consultant, Gordon has worked with a number of retail clients, including garden centres, focusing on the retail journey and customer service as well as development of the teams who deliver this.

Most recently Hedley has been the manager at the Blue Diamond Trelawney Garden Centre and prior to this can boast 25 years’ experience at management level within garden centres and for growers or plant suppliers. Prior to Trelawney, Hedley was a manager for Wyevale. He also ran centres such as Sanders Garden World, Bridgemere Garden Centre and Jacks Patch Garden Centre. He was a member of the project management team for the group’s redevelopment of their Percy Thrower’s centre in Shropshire. He started his garden centre career working for Klondyke/Strikes where he held centre manager and buying roles.

Iain added: “The 2017 inspections for member garden centres will commence on Monday, March 20 and centres will be visited until Friday, June 16. The inspection visits are unannounced which enables the inspectors to gain a true picture of the centre they are visiting and then give valuable feedback”

“Michael, Gordon and Hedley, along with Roger, will visit member centres and give objective and honest feedback on what they find. They will produce detailed reports and provide ideas for improving standards. They will also make presentations at our annual conference in 2018 and regional meetings. It is a huge benefit to GCA members.”

Kaleidoscope Garden coming to life at Helen & Douglas House!

We are delighted to report that work is nearly complete on the Kaleidoscope Garden at Hele & Douglas House in Oxford. Having finalized the plans for the build in 2016, work began on the garden earlier this month.

The colourful Kaleidoscope garden has been designed to provide a much needed sheltered area for the existing garden at at the hospice. The existing garden, also created by Greenfingers currently includes a much loved accessible treehouse next to which the new sheltered area is being assembled.

The new design will provide a fully hoist-accessible, sheltered area to be enjoyed by children and their families all year round. Colourful paneled walls will protect patients from the elements in the colder months and create a Kaleidoscope of reflective colours throughout the summer.

We would like to thank the following for for their generous help in bringing this garden to life- looking forward to seeing it completed very shortly!

Infinite Playgrounds, GreenArt, LOFA, Beechborough School, GIMA, KLC  School of Design, Greenfingers Patron Ann-Marie Powell who helped select the final design and Harrod Horticultural.

Introducing ‘LawnMan’, our Westland SafeLawn TV campaign for 2017!

Westland will invest over £2m in a TV and digital advertising campaign in 2017 to promote Westland SafeLawn, a new product encouraging more consumers to feed their lawn.

Westland SafeLawn taps into a £10m opportunity as it appeals to households who have a lawn, but are put off using chemicals due to concerns about children and pets.

Over 16m consumers will see the TV advert over 5 times during April and May. Of these viewers, over 60% of parents walking into garden retailers will be interested in the product and 4m will be actively seeking pet and child-safe alternatives*.

The TV advert will create impact by using CGI technology to introduce ‘LawnMan’ a big friendly character made entirely from lawn. He puts up with a lot. Kids, pets, the passing seasons and harsh weather conditions. In the advert he is worn and tired. He longs to be loved. To be brought to life and to be part of the family again.

Enter Westland SafeLawn. After just one application, he comes to life, revived and ready to play! LawnMan will show parents and pet owners that they can get a thick, green lawn that’s 100% natural and safe for children and pets.

Westland Safe Lawn is an organic fertiliser with added lawn seed, made with only natural ingredients. It nourishes lawns, greening them up within a week and then continues to feed as it naturally breaks down. It helps grass grow and outcompete moss and weeds and also contains special naturally-occurring bacteria which converts dead moss and thatch to nutrients to feed the grass. Its formula guarantees results, a green, lush and thick lawn, with healthy grass from root to tip!

Daniela Constantine, Brand Manager for Westland Horticulture, said: “We know that only 16% of households actually feed their lawn, so this represents a massive opportunity for the lawncare category, an opportunity that is worth a potential £10m*.

“This TV advert is designed to delight and educate both children and their parents about the neglect their lawn puts up with throughout the year. By feeding with Westland SafeLawn, they really can bring their lawn to life!

Growers debate topical challenges and opportunities at HTA Contact Conference

With the theme of ‘Surviving and Thriving’, the HTA Contact Conference for growers took place at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire on 17 – 18 January 2017, alongside the APL Stone Seminar and BPOA Spring Conference.

Brexit was high on the agenda, alongside plant health, water legislation, seasonal labour, import substitution of Quercus (Oak), the Responsible Souring of Growing Media Scheme and plants for a sustainable 21st century city.

Joshua McBain, Head of Innovation, Foresight Factory, summarised the latest matters surrounding Brexit. For the garden industry we can expect to see difficultly around access to EU migrant labour and moving goods across the border. On a positive note, a boost for UK tourism can also be expected.

Jan de Vries, Director of Boot and Dart nurseries in Boskoop, shared European industry concerns post Brexit. He recognised that as the UK imports most of its ornamental plants there will be huge implications for nurseries and highlighted that trade agreements will most likely focus on plant health.

Nicola Spence, Chief Plant Health Officer and Deputy Director Plant and Bee Health, Varieties and Seeds, Animals and Plant Health, DEFRA updated delegates on DEFRA’s activities surrounding plant health. She spoke of prevention, control, detection and resilience at borders. Investment has been made into the UK Plant Health Risk Register, launched three years ago, which is currently approaching 950 items at high risk.

Nerys Arch, Propagation and Environment Manager, Boningale and Raoul Curtis-Machin, Horticulture Director, HTA, gave an overview on a plant health management system that is in development. Next steps are to ensure the system works for a nursery of any size. Several nurseries are lined up to pilot the system this year.

John Adlam, Dove Associates, updated delegates on the water legislation and the case for change to water abstraction management. The current problems surrounding the service that are to be resolved are: water abstraction is not linked to availability, the charges do not discourage waste and some users have a vast licence, but little usage.

Amy Gray, Horticultural Advisor – Ornamentals, Fruit and Glasshouse Crops, NFU, explored the latest situation on seasonal labour which is exceptionally important to our industry. According to the 2015 NFU member survey one in three growers experienced problems securing an adequate supply of labour from the EU in 2015. There is now a call for a new seasonal worker scheme to help growers to secure labour.

David Brown, HTA’s Policy Advisor, who spoke on import substitution of Quercus (Oak) and why we import so much. Reasons for import came down to range, track record, hedging bets, lack of stability and price, however through closer working between the grower and customer we can get oak bought from the UK.

Catherine Dawson, Technical Director of Melcourt Industries, gave an update on the developments of the Responsible Souring of Growing Media Scheme. Developments included auditor involvement.

James Hitchmough, Head of Department and Professor of Horticultural Ecology from the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield provided an insightful look at the sort of plants that are going to be required for a sustainable 21st century city. Latest predictions show that by 2050 the UK will have a similar climate to that of Bordeaux today.

Bruce Hartnett, Managing Director of Kernock Park Plants provided a fascinating overview of the research he undertook at part of his Nuffield Farming Scholarship travels around the world looking at technological advancement.

A panel session chaired by Raoul Curtis-Machin, Horticulture Director, HTA, gave delegates the opportunity to have their say on the day’s topics. Discussions included: Are there enough skilled young people entering the industry post Brexit? How viable is it to propagate in the UK? What would it take to do more home growing?

Discussions continued into the evening when delegates and sponsors from the three events came together for a joint dinner. Following a presentation from Thrive about the great work that they do in horticultural therapy, garden designer and RHS Ambassador Adam Frostspoke about his early years and his inspirations. He provided a candid and entertaining account of the challenges involved in putting together a show garden at Chelsea.

Many thanks to headline partner: London Stone, conference partner: ICL, and exhibitor partners Aggregate Industries, CED, CambridgeHOK, Citation, Ecovision, Global Stone Paving, Melcourt, Millboard, Towergate HTA Insurance and XL Horticulture.

Kew Green Hotels nominate Greenfingers as their Charity of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Hotel Management company Kew Green Hotels has nominated Greenfingers as their charity partner until 2019.

Kew Green Hotels operate a wide range of properties right across the UK, with luxury full service hotels and limited service assets. With the unique experience of both owning and managing properties, they have a reputation for operational excellence, strong revenue development and industry leading profit delivery.

This new and exciting partnership will see Kew Green Hotels and it’s employees raising funds, volunteering and providing fund-saving opportunities for the Greenfingers.

Next time you check in to one of Kew Green’s Hotels, you might want to see what they’re planning to support of Greenfingers Charity and perhaps even get invovled!

Capitalise on national consumer wild bird care campaigns

Wild bird care market leader Gardman are encouraging for retailers to stock-upand boost sales during high-profile conservation-led events over the next few weeks.

The British Trust of Ornithology’s (BTO) National Nest Box Week (14-21 February) creates a massive opportunity for consumers to directly help wild bird conservation.

Natural nesting sites for birds such as disused old buildings or hollows in trees are fast disappearing. Taking part in National Nest Box Week gives people the chance to contribute to bird conservation, with the added pleasure of observing the breeding birds their nest boxes attract.

Gardman has produced eye-catching point-of-sale material to highlight the event and includes a helpful leaflet containing information about the range of Gardman nest boxes available and the best places to site them.

All of Gardman’s wooden nest boxes are crafted from sustainable FSC® certified timber and are endorsed by the BTO. The range for 2017 features a number of new lines, including a Robin Nest Box, Multi Nest Boxes with interchangeable fronts to attract a variety of species and an attractive Beach Hut Nest Box finished in sage green.

Retailers should also take advantage of RSPB’s (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Big Garden Bird Watch* (28-30 January 2017), in which consumers are invited to spend one hour logging garden bird activity. The event has attracted a growing public support in recent years, with more than 519,000 people all over the UK counting an incredible 8,262,662 birds last January.

Gardman is urging stockists to create aspirational displays ahead of these events to emphasise the importance of feeding and providing shelter for garden birds at a crucial time of year when temperatures are low and natural food is scarce.

“By siting a variety of different feeders for nuts, seeds and calorie-rich treats, such as fat balls around the garden, people are more likely to see a variety of species visiting their garden,” says Craig McIldoon, Wild Bird Care Senior Category Manager. “The results will be invaluable to the RSPB in monitoring wild bird populations and identifying which species are declining and which are thriving.”

Orders for all wild bird care requirements can now be placed on the increasingly popular trade website at www.gardman.co.uk.

* The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest wildlife survey. Through the Birdwatch, we know that, in UK gardens since 1979, starlings have declined by 81% and song thrush numbers have declined by around 70%. It also told us that in 2016, the long-tailed tit flew into the top 10 following a mild winter – up by 44% from 2015. Source: RSPB