Personnel Changes at Commercial Horticultural Association (CHA)

CHA Commercial Horticultural associationCHA has today announced that Stuart Booker, who for the past 10 years has looked after the day to day management of the association, is to step down to take a new role in the agriculture and horticulture PR industry.

The CHA secretariat team at head office in Brasted will continue to manage the daily activities and UK group participations at events including GaLaBau 2016, IFTF 2016, IPM Essen 2017 and Fruit Logistica 2017. As currently, Theresa Swann, Head of Events & Administration will be overseeing the secretariat work of the CHA and during the run up to the inaugural GrowQuip conference, dinner and exhibition, she will be supported by Gemma Chandler and Latisha Springer.  Gemma has been working for the Federation’s secretariats in Brasted over a period of 3 years.  She has 20 years’ experience in corporate communications and events management.  Latisha has undertaken several independent event projects while undertaking an events management degree and is looking forward to using these skills to support the CHA’s launch of the GrowQuip conference, dinner and exhibition showcase.

A familiar face to many in the commercial horticultural industry, the current CHA Chairman Ms Pat Flynn will continue in the role of CHA spokesperson and is looking forward to representing the CHA at the many UK and international events where the CHA will have a presence in the forthcoming year.

Pat will also continue as the lead contact for the inaugural GrowQuip 2016, the cross-industry conference and exhibition launched by CHA which will take place on 26-27 October at the Stratford Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

Speaking of his new appointment, Stuart Booker explained: “I am leaving CHA in a healthy position with the launch of GrowQuip gaining such encouraging support both in the UK and overseas. With new international events coming into the calendar, CHA can continue to assist new and existing UK exporters to reach new clients and new markets across the world.

“It was with a heavy heart that I have to say goodbye to my colleagues at CHA after 10 extremely rewarding and memorable years. This exciting new challenge came at the right time for me personally and for my career, although it does not make the decision to move on any easier. I would like to thank everyone at the CHA secretariat and committee, including Director General of the secretariat Amanda Sizer Barrett MBE, Chairman Pat Flynn and Head of Events Theresa Swann for all of their support over the last 10 years.”

Pat Flynn, Chair, CHA, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Stuart for his dedication and hard work over the last 10 years and wish him well for the future.

“We are looking forward to working with the expanded secretariat team at Brasted on what will be an exciting year for the CHA, with new UK and international events underway and new business services to support the membership being launched in the next couple of months.”

Former Blue Peter Gardener appointed as Head of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic

garden organic 2014Garden Organic has announced that Chris Collins, former BBC Blue Peter Gardener and Head Gardener at Westminster Abbey, will be joining the charity as Head of Organic Horticulture.

Chris’s horticultural experience spans many years and many locations. After training at the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh, he spent time working in Africa and Japan, before returning to the UK in 1998 as Higher Botanical Horticulturalist at Kew Gardens, then as Head Gardener at Westminster Abbey.

Chris also held the highly sought-after position of BBC Blue Peter Gardener for 9 years, during which he was involved in the challenging relocation of the garden from London to Media City in Manchester. He also got to utter the infamous line ‘here’s one I made earlier’ on numerous occasions!

Most recently, Chris has been heavily involved with inspiring the next generation of growers through his work in schools. He has supported a range of different growing initiatives including Garden Organic’s flagship Food Growing Schools: London project.

As someone who has managed a wide range of different growing areas, from Japanese roof gardens to his own organic kitchen garden, and from the rainforests of Cameroon to the coveted lawns of Westminster Abbey (where Her Majesty The Queen was a regular visitor), Chris has an inherent understanding of the challenges facing organic growers whatever the setting, and equally the vast benefits that managing these spaces organically offers.

chris collins“It is a great honour for me to be joining the team at Garden Organic.” commented Chris. “I am a passionate believer in organic horticulture, not only for the environmental benefits it offers, but also for the role it can play in people’s social and spiritual wellbeing. Garden Organic’s principles and practices provide the perfect vehicle to engage people in this valuable subject”.

“I trust the 30 plus years I have been a professional horticulturalist will play a pivotal role in promoting the important work of the members and staff of the charity.”

“The appointment of Chris to this role marks an exciting new chapter for Garden Organic.” commented James Campbell, the charity’s Chief Executive. “With more and more of our population concerned about the chemical pesticides and herbicides we encounter every day, our charity needs to support people now more than ever in discovering that there is a better way – and we’re confident Chris is the perfect person to help us deliver this message.”

This position will see Chris representing the charity in a wide range of situations, including communicating key organic growing information, presenting at events, supporting the charity’s campaigning activity, and contributing to the ongoing educational role of Ryton Organic Gardens.

Chris will start in the role of Head of Organic Horticulture in September 2016.

Greenfingers fundraiser take on ALL 5 of the Great Swim Series!

greenfingersMaybe its something to do with the very wet weather,  but there’s something in the water this summer as we are delighted to announce that another Greenfingers supporter has decided to take on an open water challenge!

Simon Powers will be taking on, not one but all FIVE of the Great Swim Series events over the course of the next few months in support of Greenfingers.

The Great Swim Series consists of five 1500m open water swims, which will take Simon around 30 minutes each, in some of the most interesting water ways in the UK.

Having already completed two of those, the Great North swim and Lake Windermere, most recently Simon took part in the Great East Swim in Alton Water in Ipswich.

Not put off by the cold conditions, this coming weekend, sees Simon take part in the Great Manchester Swim in Salford Quays followed by the Great London Swim on the 16th July and then the Great Scottish Swim in Loch Lomond in August.

You can support Simon by clicking here to make a donation to his Justgiving page.

greenfingers swimIf you have been inspired by Simon and would like to take on a challenge for Greenfingers, however big or small, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch via email: or by calling the Fundraising Team on 01494 674749.

Gardeners set to salute Scarlet Tunic as Mr Fothergill’s launches Sweet Pea

mr-fothergills-logoSuffolk seedsman Mr Fothergill’s says it hopes retailers and their customers will help it to raise more funds for the Royal Hospital Chelsea with the launch of a new sweet pea for the 2017 season. It is called Scarlet Tunic after the distinctive apparel of the instantly recognisable Chelsea Pensioners.

The name was decided after a public online vote and a ballot of the Pensioners themselves; this blend of red shades is presented in an eye-catchingly thoughtful counter display, along with the message that Mr Fothergill’s will donate 25p for every packet of seed sold to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

fothergills Sweet Pea Scarlet Tunic Display UnitThe seed company’s supportive retailers and gardeners have already helped Mr Fothergill’s raise more than £45,000 for the Royal Hospital Chelsea through sales in 2015 and 2016 of its poppy Victoria Cross. Sweet pea Scarlet Tunic continues that backing for the veterans of the United Kingdom’s armed forces.

Mr Fothergill’s joint-managing director David Carey said “Our stockists have been fantastic in promoting this wonderful cause, and we look forward to building on the great success of the poppy Victoria Cross campaign”,

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was established in 1682 by Charles II to provide a safe home for military veterans ‘broken by age or war’. The Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital admitted its first pensioners in 1692.

For more information on Mr Fothergill’s 2017 retail seed range, please telephone 01638 554111, log on at or e-mail

Walk in the Park Raises over Two Thousand Pounds for Birmingham Dogs Home

ancolOver 250 people and their dogs enjoyed the ‘Walk in the Park’ event at Walsall Arboretum on Sunday (5 June) and helped raise over £2,200 for Birmingham Dogs Home. Many families took part with dogs they had adopted from the Home.

Sponsored by Walsall based pet accessories company Ancol Pet Products, the event invited families and their dogs to enjoy a leisurely walk around a 3km route of the Walsall Arboretum. Following the walk, families received a goody bag and enjoyed a BBQ, refreshments and a range of stalls. Many also had their dog’s photo professionally taken by Ancol as a memento from the day.

ancol walk in the park 2016

Ancol Director Simon Lane, Birmingham Dog’s Home Commercial Manager, Alayna Warner, Ancol Directors

Chief Executive of Birmingham Dogs Home, Simon Price commented: “Thank you to everyone who took part in our second Walk in the Park event. It was great to see so many of our rehomed dogs looking so happy and healthy with their new owners.

“I would also like to say a big thank to our many volunteers who helped out on the day, and to Ancol for sponsoring the event. All money raised will help the thousands of stray dogs we look after every year.”

Sarah Lane, Sales Director of Ancol added: “We were delighted to support the Walk in the Park, which was another great success. We look forward to working with Birmingham Dogs Home on lots more campaigns and events throughout the coming months.”

Look out for next year’s Walk in the Park event which will take place on Sunday 11 June 2017. You can find out the latest information at or Twitter @Birminghamdogshome

The Great 60 Second Gardening Quiz

spear & jackson 2Test your knowledge and nerves against the UK’s smartest gardeners by entering The Great 60 Second Gardening Quiz, sponsored by Spear & Jackson.  Simply visit: and answer as many questions as possible against the clock to find out what type of expert you rank as.

The top 50 scorers on the leader board will win a pair of secateurs worth £19.99 from Spear & Jackson, with a top prize of gardening equipment worth £250.00 from Spear & Jackson, with more great prizes from Ladival, Thompson & Morgan and The Royal Horticultural Society. Each entry requires a £1 on-line donation with all proceeds helping to raise awareness of melanoma and funding vital research

spear & jackson quiz

David Denny Swims the Channel for Greenfingers

greenfingersGreenfingers is always delighted to hear when a supporter tries to go the extra mile in support of the charity and this August, one brave Greenfingers supporter will be going an extra 21 miles as he takes on the enormous task of swimming the Channel!

Having qualified to take part in the swim in May, David has been training hard and clocking up at least 20 kilometres a week in the open water in an attempt to complete the challenge in ten to twelve hours. The challenge will be a gigantic one both physically and mentally with cold tolerance and isolation being two key components of the swim.

David has been keeping a blog of his journey which paints a vivid picture of just how much is involved in completing a challenge like this. You can read his blog by clicking here to follow his progress.  Greenfingers is incredibly grateful that David has chosen to raise funds for us through his swim, you can show your support by sponsoring David via his Justgiving page and it to raise awareness of his cause.


If you have been inspired by David and would like to take on a challenge for Greenfingers, however big or small, we would love to hear from you! Please get in touch via email: or by calling the fundraising team on 01494 674749.

Tim Vine to Host a Full House at the GIMA Awards

GIMA-Awards-Logo-2016.fw_-300x240Tim-Vine-200x300With bookings for this year’s GIMA Awards exceeding all expectations those lucky enough to have bagged a spot will be entertained by top comedian, TV celebrity and actor Tim Vine.

A regular on the comedy circuit since the 1990’s Tim has won numerous awards throughout his career, but is just as well known for his TV appearances on ‘Live at The Apollo’, ‘QI’, ‘Celebrity Mastermind’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Let’s Play Darts’. As well as appearing in various comedy acting roles, he famously appeared alongside Lee Mack in five series of the award winning TV show ‘Not Going Out’.

Tim will be hosting the hotly contested GIMA awards, entries for which are now closed. The winners will be announced at the GIMA Awards Gala Dinner on Thursday 14th July, which return to the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport South Wales.

Places are filling up fast, so don’t miss out on joining us to see who’s won this year’s top honours.

To book places at the Gala Dinner visit

Astronaut reveals identity of space seeds recently grown by pupils

rhs rocket scienceTim Peake reveals whether the red or blue seed packet contained the space seeds grown for project by Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening and UK Space Agency

A special message from British ESA astronaut Tim Peake will today be sent to over 600,000 young people who took part in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening and UK Space Agency experiment, Rocket Science.

The message will provide the answer to the highly anticipated question – were the seeds that were sent to space in the blue packet or the red packet?

The answer can now be revealed below.

Before Tim embarked on his Principia mission to the International Space Station, he flipped a coin to decide which colour packet would contain the space seeds, and the answer has been a closely guarded secret ever since.

The seeds in question are 2kg of rocket seeds (Eruca sativa) which were sent to the International Space Station (ISS), ahead of Tim, on 03 September 2015. They remained on-board for six months until they returned to Earth with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on 03 March 2016. The seeds were then packaged into the coloured packet, determined by Tim’s coin flip, and 2kg of rocket seed that had remained on Earth was packaged into the other.

Throughout April and May this year, over 8,500 schools and educational groups grew the seeds alongside each other to investigate the impact of microgravity, radiation and space travel on seed germination and growth.

Over 5,400 schools have now successfully added their experiment data to a national online database, to be analysed by biostatisticians. The results, which will be published later in the autumn, will help to form a clearer picture of the potential for astronauts to grow their own food to sustain them on long-term missions.

Tim, who returned to Earth on Saturday 18 June, said of the experiment: “Throughout my time on the ISS I have kept an eye on the Rocket Science project via social media. It’s been amazing to see so many young people engaging in a science experiment of this scale and I’m sure we have successfully created a few more future scientists, horticulturists and hopefully astronauts to continue work like this in years to come.”

RHS Skills Development Manager Claire Custance said: “Results from Rocket Science will be published later this year in a full report which will also contain the positive impacts the project has had on the young people that participated, as well as comments from the Royal Horticultural Society, UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.

“Whatever the result may be, for us, the most important outcome of this experiment is that is has enabled hundreds of thousands of young people to engage with real plant science that has not been done in UK schools before. We hope this project has helped them to see the fundamental importance of plants in our daily lives, as well as sparking their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects as a whole. We will be thrilled to know that Rocket Science has encouraged young people to continue to explore, question, discover and look for answers.”

Libby Jackson, the UK Space Agency’s Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager said: “We are delighted with the tremendous levels of participation in the Rocket Science project, and await the results with great interest. Through the experiment, children have learnt about the importance of good scientific experimental protocol and about the challenges of feeding astronauts whilst they explore other planets. We hope that many of the 600,000 children who have taken part in Rocket Science will go on to be the scientists and engineers of our future and become a part of the UK’s booming space sector.”

Highlights from the HTA National Plant Show

hta national plant show 2016There was a vibrant and upbeat feel to the 7th HTA National Plant Show, sponsored by Hortipak, which took place this week (21 and 22 June) at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

With a packed hall featuring a record number of exhibitors the show really presented the best of plant production. The two day show attracted buyers from across the industry enabling them to catch up with existing suppliers as well as find new ones.

The New Plant Awards, sponsored by the RHS, attracted over 100 entries. Salvia Blue Marvel from Darby Nursery Stock took the title of best in show, as well as the title of Best Herbaceous Perennial. Other category winners were: Best Annual – Petunia Tumbelina Maria from Channel Island Plants UK, Best Houseplant – Begonia Elatior Valentino Pink from Garden Centre Fresh, Best Shrub & Climber – Rose Lovely Parfuma from Rosemasters, Trees & Conifers
–  Betula pendula ‘Fastigiata Joes’ EU20141206 from Frank P Matthews.

Visitors also had the chance to vote for their favourite new plant over the course of the show in the Visitor Vote, sponsored by Floramedia. They voted the Best in Show as Clematis Nubia Evipo59 from Darby Nursery Stock, which was voted best in the Shrubs & Climbers category. The other category winners were Best Annual – Nemesia Aroma Yellow Rhubarb & Custard from Channel Island Plants, Best Herbaceous Perennial – Salvia Joy from Darby Nursery Stock, Best Houseplant – Oncidium Claudia Black Eye from Javado UK and Best Tree & Conifer – Acer platanoides ‘Ulmers Sensation’ from Frank P Matthews.

New for 2016 was the Planting the Seed Award for best retail inspiration, as voted for by visitors to the show. Hawkesmill Nurseries was declared winners with Allensmore Nurseries in second place and The Bransford Webb Plant Company and Profitplant UK coming joint third.

The British Protected Ornamentals Association and the Home Grown Users Group presented the Home Grown Retail Award for Promotion and Support of UK Grown Plants and Flowers to Grace Hurrell of Tesco Stores, for the chain’s consistent support and promotion of British-grown bedding.

The winner of the Planties photographic competition was James Tully of Parker’s Garden Company for his summer wildflower meadow image, which will feature in HTA News.

New for 2016 the Retail Concept Area, put together by trend watcher and green stylist Romeo Sommers provided ideas and stories about the benefits of plants to create interest and give people another reason to buy.

Over the course of the show a number of seminar sessions were held including:
Neil Bragg from Bulrush Horticulture and Paul Alexander from RHS introduced the audience to the Growing Media Responsible Sourcing Calculator.
Andy McIndoe highlighted the new plant award winners and how to make the most of them.
Michael Perry from Thompson & Morgan talked about how to make gardening more accessible by using the right language.
David Gillam from Abercorn Garden Centre and Chairman of the National Dahlia Society reminded all not to forget the good old favourites of the plant world.
Raoul Curtis-Machin, HTA Head of Horticulture, provided an update on plant health and Xylella Fastidiosa.

GTN’s Greatest Plant Retailing Awards were presented at the show. Gold Award winners included:

Greatest Plant Sales Team
Small centre – Poppies, Oban
Mid-sized centre – Timmermans
Large centre – Scotsdales, Cambridge

Greatest Linked Sales Team

Greatest Pot and Plants Sales Team

Greatest Plant Advice Team
Fron Goch and Cowells

Many thanks to all our sponsors and supporters
Headline Partner – Hortipak
Associate Partner – Gardman

Media Partners – Horticulture Week
New Plant Awards – Royal Horticultural Society, Visitor Vote – Floramedia, Digital Partner – Garden Connect, Benching Partner – Timber Displays, Delegate Bag Partner – Container Centralen, Registration Area Partner – XL Horticulture, Event Partners – Glee, HTA Insurance Services, ICL, Joy of Plants and Striking Places.

Put the dates in your diary for next year’s show – 20 and 21 June at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. Further information can be found at