Gardeners Urged to Help Build the Definitive List of Pest and Disease Threats

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the Royal Holloway, University of London are asking gardeners to take part in a new study to identify the most important plant pests and diseases affecting their gardens. The information they provide will form the basis of a list of the most damaging problems they face.
From February to May 2017, the RHS is urging the UK’s 27 million gardeners, regardless of their level of expertise, to complete an online survey that will help scientists better understand the impact of plant pests and diseases on people’s lives.

The insights gardeners provide will help scientists focus their research efforts, as they work to develop ever more effective ways of controlling garden pests and diseases. The survey can be found here:
The new research has been designed to complement the RHS’ existing annual top pests and diseases data, which provides a snapshot of the year’s most troublesome pests and diseases.

The joint RHS/Royal Holloway study is a deeper dive into the pest and disease problems facing gardeners, problems that are less subject to the transitory impact of the weather, or of one-off occurrences, such as the discovery of a new pest or disease.

Speaking about the new research RHS Head of Plant Health Dr Gerard Clover said: “The RHS is very fortunate to already have a bank of very rich information about the pest and disease problems gardeners face every year, but this new research is designed to drill down deeper to get to those core, persistent problems.

“When considering the question of what are the most ‘important’ pests and diseases to commercial horticulture, the focus is on the economic impact, but for gardeners the picture is more complicated.

“For domestic gardeners the scope is much broader, ranging from the impact on aesthetics, through the services plants provide (lawns for recreation and hedges for privacy), to the negative impact on the quality of fruit and vegetable crops. It is this very variety that we need to capture to get as full a picture as possible of the challenges facing gardeners.”

Roy Lancaster Sharing New Book and Plant Knowledge at Hillier Garden Centres

This year, world-renowned plantsman Roy Lancaster will publish his most autobiographical book to date My Life with Plants. Published on 23rd March by Filbert Press, in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, it is the story of his adventures with plants: from learning the ropes as a young apprentice to curatorship of the Hillier Gardens and Arboretum and a dynamic freelance career. His enthusiasm for the natural world is exhilarating as he describes seeing tropical plants for the first time in the jungles of Malaya, visiting Roberto Burle Marx’s garden in the hills behind Rio de Janeiro, and hunting for pitcher plants in North America.

Hillier and Roy Lancaster have a close history together. Lancaster worked with Hillier for many years. This time together is also featured in his new book. We are also delighted to share that Roy Lancaster will be touring a number of Hillier Garden Centres in June this year, revealing some of the stories in his autobiography as well as the stories behind some of the plants we know and love today.

Watch the events section of the Hillier website, with details of Lancaster’s Hillier Garden Centre tour dates and bookings available soon


Squire’s Garden Centres held their annual “Supplier Plant Show” at West Horsley last Thursday 9th February. Suppliers came from across the UK and abroad to showcase their latest plants. Some of the specimens on display included olive trees, roses, hellebores and heathers.

Squire’s Plant Managers were given the opportunity to see the show, meet the suppliers, and find out more about the new season plants that customers will be able to buy in the next few weeks. The Plant Managers also voted for their “best” supplier in two categories – Hardy & Bedding Plants. Pannebakker picked up the award for ‘Best Hardy Plant Supplier’, and Barnsfold won ‘Bedding Supplier of the Year’.

Barnsfold won Squire’s “Bedding Supplier Of The Year” award
L-R: Jeremy Hall (Squire’s Plant Buyer), Sarah Squire (Squire’s Deputy Chairman), Peter Titmus (Barnsfold) & Colin Squire (Squire’s Chairman)

Jeremy Hall (Squire’s Group Plant Buyer) said, “We chose Panebakker as our ‘Best Hardy Plant Supplier’ as they have great quality plants and give us a fantastic level of service. The award for ‘Bedding Supplier of the Year’ went to Barnsfold for the second year in a row. They won due to their partnership with Squire’s – we really work together well as a team. They also give us amazing customer service, and the fact that they make deliveries 7 days a week in peak season means that our centres are always stocked with the best quality plants around.”

Sarah Squire (Squire’s Deputy Chairman) commented, “Our Supplier Plant Show is one of my favourite events of the year. It’s great to see the superb quality of plants, and some exciting new ones that we are stocking for 2017.  This really was an excellent show, and I am very grateful to all of our suppliers who attended. I know that everyone at Squire’s came away enthused and excited about the spring season ahead.

Westland set to make a big impact with TV advertising this spring!

Westland is set to make a big impact on TV this spring with a multi-million pound marketing campaign.

Its TV advertised products have sold into retailers so well that Westland has upped its advertising spend to over £5m. The TV campaign will drive consumers’ in-store over spanning April and May, including the key bank holiday weekend.

The highlight of this will be the new Westland SafeLawn TV advert, set to feature CGI animated ‘Lawn Man’ a lawn which has come to life! He puts up with a lot. Kids and pets tearing around, ball games 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.

Also on TV this spring will be Gro-Sure® Easy Containers Compost, as well as Gro- Sure® Smart Lawn Seed and Resolva Liquid Shots.

Keith Nicholson, Marketing Director for Westland said: “We’re looking forward to a great spring. Our new Westland SafeLawn has had an exceptional reception from retailers. We’re putting the investment behind this natural product to both increase market reach and educate on its benefits compared to traditional lawncare. It’s a great advert which will really resonate with young families and pet owners, who we know have safety concerns.

“This year we will again be showing our ‘Be Sure with Gro-Sure®’ TV adverts. These were well received last year and really helped to cement our success with both Gro- Sure® Smart Seed (the UK’s No.1 lawn seed for a second year running) and Gro- Sure® Easy Containers Compost.


“Our Resolva Liquid Shots TV advert is tried and tested. It has a great conversation rate and always generates big sales hikes, driving consumers in store searching for the Resolva brand at the busiest time of year.”

Watch Westland’s TV adverts on its YouTube channel

Study tour gains insight and inspiration from Holland

It was an action packed few days for garden centres and suppliers attending the HTA Garden Retail Study Tour in Holland last week.

The tour began on Wednesday 8th February with a visit to the Elho factory where the group heard the latest trend information and ideas from this family company that was established in 1964. The offices themselves are a design masterpiece and the home from home showroom layouts are impressive, as is the factory itself which turns out over 60 million pieces a year. Fifty percent of the electricity generated by the company windmill runs the office and factory complex, with the remaining 50% being sold back to the grid! If that wasn’t enough they also have a number of bee hives onsite (and produce Elho honey) to educate visiting school groups about the role of bees as pollinators.

In the evening the group attended the Garden Retail Experience Gala Dinner returning the next day to tour the exhibition in detail. The Garden Retail Experience is not a trade show but an inspiration event using themes to bring together groups of products to inspire. The overall theme for this year’s event was ‘Growing Emotion’ highlighting that by creating the right emotion in customers can led to increased sales. Tours from Laurens Doesborgh and Romeo Summers provided great insight into the ideas behind the themes and the tangible ways in which garden centres can bring these stories to life. From an inspiring ‘back to nature’ entrance display, a mini festival with mismatched plants to a butterfly house instore and a rain garden feature there was plenty of food for thought. The day finished with a visit to a garden centre – Ranzijn Nieuw-Vennep – a family owned group which is expanding rapidly in the Netherlands. As to be expected there were impressive displays of early bulbs and house plants.

Friday saw the study tour group visit the famous ‘Clock’ plant and flower auction at Aalsmeer, hosted by Paul Moors and Brian Redman from Garden Centre Fresh. Paul, an ex-clock buyer provided an overview and the group was suitably impressed by the efficiency of the clock process watching stock moving through at a rate of knots. Flora Holland then provided a fascinating tour of the processing and distribution centre and the organised chaos of moving the trolleys to the right place prior to distribution.

The tour concluded with a trip to Hilverda De Boer, one of The Netherlands largest cut flower exporters, to see the operation in action as it gears up for Valentine’s Day and hear about the most popular flowers in different countries. Within 24 hours the flowers seen on the ground could be on sale in Japan, the Middle East or the US – no mean feat!

Feedback from the tour included one attendee from Baytree Garden Centre saying:

“Just a quickie to say a huge THANK YOU for your wonderful hospitality during the study tour in Holland. I was delighted to be a part of it and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. It was certainly very informative and I have come away brimming with ideas already being put into practice here. The Garden Retail Experience was indeed just that, it was intriguing to have the different perspective of the tours from a commercial angle with Laurens of De Haan and the design and theatre of Romeo. The tour of the Clock was amazing wasn’t it, so ordered and functional in a place the size of a small country. I hope that this was the first of many new experiences and look forward to meeting you all again soon.”

It was a fascinating couple of days with plenty of learning and ideas. Many thanks to the very generous hospitality provided by all those involved including Elho, TPK and the Garden Retail Experience, Garden Centre Fresh, Flora Holland and Hilverda De Boer.

2016 GIMA Innovator’s Seed Corn Fund winners, Vivagreen: six months later & thriving

The third winners of the GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund (GISCF) were Vivagreen; receiving this industry accolade due to the simplicity and effectiveness of its MossOff product. Since receiving the award at Glee 2016, six months have passed – a long time in the world of business. Here we catch up with Vivagreen’s co-owner, Russell Walsh, to find out more about how the GISCF award has helped business.

Tell us more about your experience of winning the Seed Corn Fund and your time at Glee 2016.
Glee – and the GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund win – was an enormous networking opportunity for us. As a relatively new business it was essential that we spent the time meeting with lots of potential customers. During our time at the show we were approached by several large retailers, and also met Diarmuid Gavin, who having immediately engaged with the product and our business philosophy, has since become our brand ambassador.

How has business been since Glee 2016?
Business has been great! We’ve been so busy! Since September we have successfully appointed sales agents in the UK, who have helped us to broaden our reach across the country, and are without doubt a huge asset to the team.

We have also started negotiations with a major garden centre chain, with the aim of driving our product into stores in 2017. We’ve also secured business with Blue Diamond, Woodies and a number of independent garden centres and wider retailers. Our retail profile has grown significantly in the last six months – it’s been incredible.

Later this month we will also be attending the Garden Press Event, with the aim of launching our 2017 consumer media campaign to help drive awareness of MossOff amongst end users.

How has the GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund helped your business develop?
Being winners of the GISCF has helped to secure our marketing campaign for the year, driving our brand awareness on a much larger and targeted basis. The extra PR that we received as winners has also resulted in additional enquiries and interest in our business. We’ve no doubt that we would have been able to launch to the market without the fund, but certainly not as effectively or able to gain traction as quickly.

What are your overall plans/objectives for the coming year? Any product development plans?
Our aim for 2017 is to increase our retail listings, particular amongst independent garden centres. We are also planning on maximising our Glee 2017 presence, and already have big plans for the show as we get set to launch even more exciting product innovations to the market.

What advice would you give any business thinking of entering the GISCF in 2017?
Quite simply, don’t hesitate to enter! Be sure to exploit all the opportunities, especially networking, you never know who you will meet or strike up a conversation with and what it might lead to. Plus these kind of opportunities are included in the prize package, and are free – it would be foolish to let such opportunities pass by without being maximised!

Finally, I would suggest networking to find a team of experienced individuals who can assist with all aspects of business and product development. We’ve been very lucky to meet a number of people who have given their time and experience to help us drive our business throughout the last year. Their advice has been invaluable.

Vicky Nuttall

GIMA Director Vicky Nuttall added: “As the GISCF heads into its fourth year, we are confident that the award has become an integral part of both GIMA’s offering, as well as a recognised industry standard.

“We are so pleased to hear that last year’s winners, Vivagreen, has been experiencing some great commercial success, and that the GISCF has played a part in this success story, however we can’t take all the credit – far from it! MossOff is quite simply a great product, a feeling that was unanimous during the judging process for the 2016 GISCF. I for one am looking forward to seeing what is next for Vivagreen, and am sure I speak for everyone at GIMA when I say that we wish them every continued success.”

MossOff from Vivagreen
MossOff – home of the world’s greenest, safest and most advanced products for the control of moss and algae.
MossOff is a completely natural product that will get rid of moss and algae from any surface, anywhere. It works by covering the moss in an invisible, biodegradable micro-coating that prevents it from drawing moisture from the air and, as moss has no roots, it dies. That’s why MossOff is completely harmless to other plants.
To find out more about Vivagreen and MossOff please visit or call 020 719 72317.

Further information about the GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund can also be found at

Extension Work Begins at Hillier Eastbourne

In 2017, our popular Eastbourne Garden Centre is undergoing a major extension, with an additional 20,000 sqft due to be added by May 2017. The extra space will allow room for five additional concessions, as well as giving even more room in our Centre to offer a great range of quality plants, garden accessories and home items.

Development work began in December 2016, with demolition and clearing. In 2017, building work has continued including planting of 40 Ulmus New Horizon trees, grown on Hillier’s field nurseries.

Chris Francis, Hillier Wholesale and Retail Director, comments: “We are very excited about this extension project. Eastbourne is well-loved by the community and the largest of our 12 garden centres. With the extra space and concessions, we hope to build an even better destination for our customers.”


Squire’s Garden Centre in Chertsey is now open after a complete re-build. Come and discover this boutique garden centre, which has a new outdoor plant area, a garden centre shop with a range of gifts, and a brand new Café Bar – which is perfect for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.

Squire’s is a successful family owned business, and £1.5 million was spent on building the new garden centre, with Chairman Colin Squire very involved with both the design and build.

Sarah Squire (Deputy Chairman) commented, “We are delighted to open our new garden centre in Chertsey. It has a totally fresh outdoor plant area, new shop and new Café Bar – which is in a octagonal lodge building that dates back to the Napoleonic wars. Chertsey is a small but perfectly formed garden centre where you can find what you need and be back in your garden in no time. Do pop in and say hello to our team.”

Squire’s Garden Centre, Holloway Hill, Chertsey, KT16 0AE.

National Pumpkin Sowing Day announced by Thompson & Morgan – 12th April 2017

As sponsors of the UK’s giant pumpkin growing competition each autumn at the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth’s annual event in Southampton, Thompson & Morgan is launching National Pumpkin Sowing Day on April 12th. In response to the many queries that the horticultural mail order giant receives around the time of the giant pumpkin weigh-in, the company has decided to set a date for those wanting to try their hand at growing a record-breaker or for those simply wanting to grow a modest pumpkin for carving at Halloween.

Paul Hansord, T&M’s Commercial Director, himself a keen pumpkin grower, said:

“We get so many enquiries at the giant pumpkin weigh-in and around Halloween when people are seeing pumpkins in the shops, asking how to grow them at home. So we’ve decided to set April 12th as National Pumpkin Sowing Day 2017. If people can buy their seeds and get ready to sow them on this date, we’ll support them with growing tips and hope that someone out there might grow a pumpkin to rival last year’s winner”.

The heaviest pumpkin at last year’s event weighed in at 2,252.3lb and was grown by Ian and Stuart Paton who have broken the UK record an incredible 7 times. The majority of entries to the 2016 official weigh-in at the Southampton pumpkin event were grown from seeds that came from giant pumpkins grown by the Patons. Seeds from the Paton twins’ 2016 record-breaking giant pumpkin are available from T&M – 2 seeds of ‘Paton Twins Giant’  retail at £9.99.

2016 Paton Brothers pumpkin

RHS Hyde Hall’s Matt Oliver won the award in 2016 for the largest outdoor-grown pumpkin with a seed purchased for £1,250 by Thompson & Morgan. His pumpkin weighed in at an astounding 1,333.8lb (95 stone or 605kg) and the seeds from this aptly named ‘Matt’s Monster’ can be purchased from Thompson & Morgan at a cost of £7.99 for 3 seeds.

“The seeds from ‘Matt’s Monster’ and ‘Paton Twins Giant’ might seem a little expensive, but they come with a fantastic pedigree”, commented Paul Hansord. “Each seed is packed with giant pumpkin potential”.

Other pumpkin seeds are available from T&M for those who want to grow a modest-sized pumpkin, such as ‘Jack Of All Trades’, for carving at Halloween or for those who simply have a penchant for pumpkin pie or a hearty pumpkin soup.

T&M will be supporting pumpkin growers after they have sown their seeds with information on how to grow giant pumpkins and on growing regular pumpkins for Halloween on its website, as well as with timely posts on social media.

Useful links:

Resolva Liquid Shots back on TV!

The largest growing concentrate weedkiller brand* is set to grow even further in 2017 with another £1m spend on TV.

Set to reach over 14m consumers from April 24 to May 6, the advert will remind consumers that Resolva Liquid Shots offer an easy way to apply concentrated weedkiller. Pre-dosed with just the right amount for a 10L watering can, there’s no mess and no measuring, giving consumers peace of mind they are applying the right amount.

Resolva Liquid Shots is the perfect solution to big weed problems. The advert features the famous weed characters who taunt and tease a man on his driveway. The weed attack continues until our hero thinks to use the Resolva Liquid Shots, with visible results in 24 hours, he gains control and stands tall, proud of his weed-free drive.

Daniela Constantine, Brand Manager for Resolva said: “With a £1m TV advertising campaign, reaching over 14m viewers, customers will be actively seeking our products in your stores. Don’t leave them disappointed!”

Order the Resolva Liquid Shots range, including Resolva 24H, Resolva Path & Patio and Resolva Lawn Weedkiller Extra Concentrate Liquid Shots through your Westland sales representative today.