Ten compelling arguments in favour of nature’s gift to man

civic treesNational tree supply, plant and relocation specialist, Glendale Civic Trees, is calling attention to the basic but indispensable benefits of trees in a bid to encourage more people to appreciate these natural wonders.

If trees produced WIFI signals we might see a greater response to planting and reforestation projects, jokes Deric Newman, sales manager at Glendale Civic Trees. But his concern is a serious one, with humans cited as the biggest factor behind the loss of a staggering 15 billion trees a year.

Here, Deric shares some of the key reasons why planting more trees is vital to the continuation of human endeavour.

  1. First and foremost, trees are the lungs of our planet. They soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as carbon sinks and using photosynthesis to convert the gas into glucose and, more importantly for us, oxygen.
  2. Certain trees are very adept at absorbing and storing harmful pollutants and degrading them into less harmful forms, making them extremely useful in relieving the negative effects of global warming.
  3. It’s not just pollution in the air, soil and water that trees can help alleviate, they can also act as effective sound barriers, reducing noise pollution particularly when planted at strategic locations around major roads and airports.
  4. Trees are also useful when it comes to preventing flood damage, as the roots help the soil hold large amounts of water that could potentially overwhelm low lying land.
  5. Tree roots act to bind the soil together and their leaves impede the impact of wind and rain on the soil surface, making them the ideal solution for managing soil erosion.
  6. In addition, trees are ideal for providing shade and much needed cooling in urban environments. A recent statistic suggests that the water evaporation from a single tree has a cooling effect equivalent to 10 room-sized air-conditioning units operating 20 hours a day, which means that trees planted in urban environments can reduce the need for air conditioning during the summer months.
  7. It’s been known for trees to increase property values by up to 25 per cent by lending maturity to the surrounding landscape and screening new developments.
  8. Recent studies suggest that trees also have an impact on behaviour. They can help reduce anti-social behaviour and crime by contributing to the creation of quality green spaces that encourage communities to spend more time outdoors and building stronger bonds.
  9. Further to this, there are no shortage of reports discussing how getting close to nature is considered one of the best ways of improving overall health and wellbeing.
  10. Finally, trees, particularly mature specimens, are a vital source of food and shelter for all kinds of wildlife, promoting biodiversity and boosting the local ecosystem. Oak trees alone are thought to support over 300 species of insect and plant life.

With so many benefits to us and the environment, trees are a natural resource we would invest in every time, and there is no better time to start planting, Deric explains. September through to November is the peak season for tree planting, because this is the time of year when the ground is in the optimum condition for roots to ground and grow before winter arrives.

For more information, contact Deric Newman on 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.

Top Garden Photography Tips for Capturing the Colours of Autumn

rhs logo 2015To inspire the public to embark on a garden photography outdoor adventure this autumn and enter this year’s RHS Photographic Competition, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is hosting a photography exhibit at this year’s RHS London Shades of Autumn Show (28–29 October) in central London.
In order to give budding photographers a head start Marianne Majerus, world-renowned garden photographer and an RHS Photographic Competition 2017 judge, has provided her top six photography tips for creating great-quality images.

1. Spot spider webs
Before you decide to sweep spider webs away this season, consider incorporating them into your photographs, as they can add a sense of mystery – to your Halloween-themed photos in particular. This is especially so at dawn on sunny autumn days, when flowers and foliage will be decorated by dew and cobwebs. If there is little or no wind you will have time to compose your images and won’t have to change aperture to compensate for subject movement. When photographing spider webs try experimenting by including more details in the frame, in order to add context, or capturing the moment a spider is visible to add a focal point.

2. Get creative with seasonal fruit
Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal fruit and berries, which might make for great close-up shots and could even be consumed afterwards. Wild berries in particular could be an inspiring subject matter, with their voluptuous forms and the strong colour contrast between the leaves and the fruit, which can add dramatic tension to photographs. Including more detail such as the path where they are found and their surroundings can help add a story to your photograph. Autumnal forests can have a magical ambience that can produce almost fairytale-like images.

rhs-photo-tips-graphic3 Play with autumn light
Make the most of the beautiful misty morning light which gives this season its character. To avoid camera shake when the light is low, try propping the camera against a tree trunk or alter your ISO rating to achieve sharper images. As with most photography, the nature and direction of light falling on a subject is crucial. Soft sidelighting will give good modeling while keeping shadows delicate, whereas stronger, low-angled sidelighting is very good for emphasising the texture or bark and leaves.

4 Look out for backlit leaves 
Backlit leaves, the colours and cell structure of which are enhanced by the sun, can offer great subject matter and can create strong graphic images. When photographing close-up flowers or leaves, do not fixate on the subject to the extent that you forget the background. Try using the depth-of-field preview lever on your camera to see what is visible behind your subject and consider using a larger aperture to throw the background out of focus. Try moving around a subject to find a pleasing background.

5 Don’t spoil the lawn
When outdoors, it is important to make sure you don’t spoil the delicate dew on the lawn by walking over it before a photograph is taken. Try to plan your shots before leaving footprints on the lawn. Remember to look out for flowers and plants that are a bit different or that have something distinctive about them. Autumn is not the time to look for perfection: imperfect blooms and seedheads can be beautiful in this melancholic season.

6 Discover garden wildlife
Mild autumn weather can offer an ideal opportunity to seek out garden wildlife including hedgehogs, birds and insects to create winning images. While attracting these creatures to your garden can sometimes be challenging, especially in an urban environment, there are some things you could do. Try sprinkling food such as seeds, nuts and fruit on designated patches of grass or use feeders, which work particularly well for birds. Attract hedgehogs by leaving a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out of the garden with ease. Garden ponds can attract a wide variety of amphibians and frogs. Once you find your subject, start experimenting with staging a photo by adding one or two random objects to the frame, such as a garden glove, and watching how they interact.
Entries to the RHS Photographic Competition can be submitted for free online from 26 May 2016 until 28 February 2017 or via Social Media with the hashtag #RHSPhotoComp (for more details and to enter please use the following link)

Notcutts Staff Raise Over £2,000 For Stroke Association

notcuttsNotcutts garden centre in Maidstone has presented a cheque for £2,400 to the Stroke Association in support of a long term employee who had a near-fatal stroke whilst at work.

Hannah Green, who worked at Notcutts for over 30 years, was rushed to London’s Kings College Hospital in January 2013 with a slim chance of survival after suffering a major stroke which left her unable to walk and with a lasting disability. She was on a life support machine and spent the next nine months in Sevenoaks Hospital.

Since Hannah’s stroke, her colleagues at Notcutts Maidstone have rallied together to aid her in her road to recovery, supporting her husband and two daughters and running activities such as cake sales and in-store collections to raise vital funds.

maidstonestrokecharitychequeHannah said: “Having a stroke is so unexpected, I felt fine that morning and then my life completely changed. However, everyone has been wonderful in supporting me and my family and I’m so grateful. My heart is in Notcutts and I still volunteer at the centre when I can which really boosts my mood.”

Jon Kemp, Centre Manager at Notcutts Maidstone said: “The shockwave of Hannah’s stroke sent ripples throughout the company. The recovery to where she is today has been painful and slow but we’re delighted that we have been able to do our bit to support a much loved and well-respected colleague.”

The South East branch of the Stroke Association is based at Turkey Mill in Maidstone and offers support and friendship to stroke victims and their families in the area. The money raised will go towards vital research, support services and campaigning in the region.

Irish Rising Stars finalists announced

westland colourThe finalists of the Westland Rising Stars in Ireland, a programme run in association and supported by Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) and Bord Bia have been announced.

The finalists are: Emma Cooke (Springmount), Eoin Long (Arboretum) and Natalia Cvetic (Newlands).

This is the first year the initiative has been run in Ireland, which seeks out and celebrates exceptional talent in the garden centre industry. The initiative was inspired by the GroMór campaign, a nationwide campaign to get Ireland growing. It is coordinated by Westland Horticulture, a key sponsor of GroMór and driving force behind the Rising Stars Programme.

A total of 16 hopefuls began the journey back in April, where they were given merchandising training and equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to make a real impact on sales.

They then put their new found skills to good use during the year to promote GroMór. The campaign made gardening accessible to all and was implemented in association with Bord Bia and Retail Excellence Ireland (REI). The campaign, running in 65 REI Garden Centres with support from 17 Nursery Growers, offered practical advice on growing, highlighting the many benefits of gardening as a pastime and encouraging novices to dig out their wellies and discover their green fingers.

Keith Nicholson, Marketing Director for Westland, said: “  The Irish Rising Stars takes its learnings from an existing training model that Westland run in the UK, which has been running for six years with exceptional success. emerging talent is essential for the future of our industry, it brings fresh ideas and Encouraging new and inspiration, essential for driving participation in the garden sector.

Rising Stars masterclass at Orchard Garden Centre in Cellbridge.

Rising Stars masterclass at Orchard Garden Centre in Cellbridge.

“This is the first time we’ve run this initiative in Ireland and already the standard has been very high. I wish all the finalists the very best of luck!” Keelan Bourke, Member Relationship Manager at Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) Garden Group said: “The Rising Stars training programme helped the GroMór campaign get off on a great start. It gave garden centre staff the skills they needed to further promote the benefits of gardening to a new generation.”

Carol Marks, Development and Marketing Specialist for Bord Bia, said: “We were delighted to be supporting this event, it was a fantastic support to GroMór, to the careers of the Rising Stars themselves and to the sales in their garden centres.”

The winner will be announced REI Awards at Radisson Blu Galway on November 5.

Voting urged to help Pollinating the Peak project win £25,000

bumblebee conservation trust logoAn exciting initiative to protect bumblebees and wild pollinators – including the scarce Bilberry bumblebee – across the Peak District and Derbyshire could receive a major boost if conservation charity Bumblebee Conservation Trust wins an online vote.

People are being urged to support the charity’s Pollinating the Peak project, which is shortlisted to win £25,000 in the Aviva Community Fund, in an online vote running from 21 October-18 November 2016.

The vote is open to anyone, and Pollinating the Peak can be supported at littlegreenspace.org.uk/voteptp.html.

“We are urging people to vote for us and to help us make a real difference to our struggling bees and wild pollinators,” said Rhodri Green, Pollinating the Peak Community Development Officer.

Bumblebees are icons of summer and pollinate many of our crops, but over recent decades their populations have crashed with some species already extinct or fighting extinction.

Pollinating the Peak aims to help save the sound of summer by inspiring people and communities to get involved to create bee-friendly habitats, help monitor bumblebees and learn conservation skills. A fun educational programme will involve secondary schools.

The Peak District is one of the few places in the UK where the rare Bilberry bumblebee is found. This species has an important ecosystem role to play in supporting the Peak District’s upland plants.

heath-bumblebee-at-edale-izzy-bunting-medium Partners in Pollinating the Peak are Chatsworth, Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Little Green Space, Moors for the Future Partnership, Peak District National Park, and Visit Peak District & Derbyshire.

Aviva Community Fund supports and recognizes important causes in local communities. Everyone can vote and the project with the most votes will be entered into the finals, where a judging panel will award the funds. Everyone registering gets 10 votes to give to one project or to split across various projects.

The Pollinating the Peak team will be at Chesterfield Market Festival on Friday 28 October from 10am- 4pm, offering fun family activities including bumblebee making and a colouring competition.

For more details about the project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, visit bumblebeeconservation.org, email ptp@bumblebeeconservation.org and follow @BuzzingPeak on Twitter.

Tree planting marks first event at the new HTA offices in Chilton

hta 2016To celebrate the opening of the Horticultural Trades Association’s new offices and the European Nursery Stock Association’s 25th anniversary, an official tree planting ceremony took place at Horticulture House, Chilton today.

A Malus Evereste and Bramley Apple tree, supplied by nursery Frank P Matthews were planted outside the building in the grounds by HTA Head of Horticulture, Raoul Curtis-Machin and ENA’s President, Tim Edwards and Julian Ransom of APL member 4th Corner.   As well as marking the opening of the new Horticulture House, the trees will mark the European Nursery Stock Association’s 25th anniversary.

The ENA simultaneously planted 25 trees across Europe in one day to symbolise the billions of plants produced by European nurseries in the last 25 years and to pay tribute to nurserymen who have cultivated plants.

Tim Edwards said: “The trade of plants across Europe is inevitable and the European Nursery Stock Association exists to promote dialog between the nurserymen carrying out that trade, to promote best practice amongst those nurserymen and to ensure that the legislature we inevitably have to abide by is sensible and appropriate. We’re planting trees across Europe to remind people of the importance of our Trade and the products we deal in – in this high tech age there still nothing quite so good for the world we live in as plants!”

HTA staff celebrate new office opening and ena 25th anniversary

HTA staff celebrate new office opening and ena 25th anniversary

Following the tree planting, guests were given a tour of the offices and met some members of the HTA. Alongside the light and airy office space for staff and HTA partner organisations on the first floor, Horticulture House provides a great facility which is available for HTA members to hire at preferential rates.

There are six meeting rooms, showroom space and a conference room (seating 100) available. Newly refurbished and with a modern décor these will be ideal for client meetings, seminars, training workshops, product launches and regional roadshows.

For further information about these facilities please email bookings@hta.org.uk

Rising Stars UK finalists announced!

westland colourAfter a excellent round of final presentations, the names of the 5 finalists of the Westland Rising Stars and Garden Centre Association programme have been announced.

They delivered presentations on the topic “how to boost autumn sales.” These covered growing media, autumn lawn care and bird care. Increases in sales of 40% to 70% were reported, with more than double digit growth in one case. Before and after images were included, which really brought to life what was achieved.

Daniel Holden (Barton Grange), Rupert Sleight (Squires Cobham), Kathryn Crouch (Haskins West End), Hana Parker (Monkton Elm) and John Bradley (Stewarts) have all made it through to the GCA Conference at Fairmount, St Andrews in Scotland in January 2017. There they will deliver their presentations on stage, in front of colleagues and peers. The overall winner – the 2016 Rising Star of the Year – will then be chosen by conference delegates.

The finalists are the last ones standing after an eight month programme in which candidates attended three Masterclasses run by IBBIS Director and training facilitator Ian Boardman. Skills taught included the importance of keeping hotspots fresh, creating clear signage, organising themed displays and the benefits of teamwork.

Ian said: “Over the past eight months, I’ve had the pleasure to see a group of people who have grown in confidence and self-belief, delivering some tangible and impressive sales results for their garden centres. They are all stars in their own right, but only one will go on to become the Rising Star of the Year!”

Rising stars attending the final masterclass before the finalists were announced

Rising stars attending the final masterclass before the finalists were announced

Keith Nicholson, Marketing Director for Westland said: “On behalf of Westland I’d like to congratulate the five finalists. Each year the Rising Stars programme goes from strength to strength. The programme is designed to guide our managers of tomorrow and give them a platform to develop their careers within garden retail. It is this kind of investment that ensures the long term growth of our industry.”

Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA said: “The Rising Stars presentations are always the highlight of the GCA conference. It’s a great way for us to celebrate the real talent and professionalism in our industry. I can’t wait to find out who will be crowned Rising Star of the Year.”


outbackLeading barbecue supplier Outback UK is cooking up some new garden centre promotional ideas with a series of four short videos to boost next year’s sales of the top – selling Jupiter range.

The company is currently working on ways to provide new in-store LCD displays to run the videos in a range of point-of-sale material for Jupiter stockists in 2017.

Links on the home page and in the product description boxes for the Jupiter Stainless Steel 4 and 6 burner and the Jupiter 4 burner gas models on the outbackbarbecues.com website take viewers to the videos on the site or on You Tube.

Each video lasts about 45 seconds, and shows ingredients, temperatures and herbs used to cook a pancake, tuna, stir fry and pizza on the Jupiter’s grill, griddle, wok and pizza stone accessories.

The Jupiter Stainless Steel 4 and 6 burner gas are new to the Outback 2017 range and are included in the company’s current product guide for next year as well as on the website, and follow the success of the Jupiter 2, 3 and 4 burner models designed in Meteor red that played a major part in Outback’s sell-out year in 2016.

Sharing the pain of price rises

gima logo1Despite the fact that we haven’t been plunged into an immediate recession since the result of the European referendum, there is still a great deal of anxiousness in regards to inflation, particularly price rises for garden products.

In the September edition of GIMA Pulse, a monthly snapshot of the UK Economy produced for GIMA members, it was surmised that although consumer confidence might be lifted by lower unemployment levels, cheaper fuel and a stabilising housing market, manufacturers would still continue to be hit by energy prices (at a two-year high), crude oil (up 2.5% during June-July) and most crucially importing against the fluctuating exchange rates of the US dollar, Euro and Yen. While some manufacturers were able to plan ahead and buy extra foreign currency to stop import costs affecting trade prices in the short term, others were unable to and have been absorbing cost increases now for several months.

Suppliers are experiencing on average, around a 10% increase in costs across the board. Raw materials and energy costs have risen, but in most cases these have been absorbed and translated into trade price increments that are proportionally much lower for retailers, with suppliers doing their best to keep sales buoyant.

Of course, the danger is that if either supplier or retailer shoulders too much of the burden of cost increases, the whole supply chain is affected. For example, if costs were needed to be cut on the supply side, this could result in inferior products as suppliers cut corners, ultimately leading to dissatisfied customers. Squeezing labour costs could lead to a less flexible supply chain with reduced sales support, customer service, packing and warehousing for example. A reduction in time and investment means having to play it very safe – and would of course negatively impact on new product development. This belt tightening could ultimately impact the level of resource available to innovate and develop new products, something none of us would want to happen.

There is an obvious need to strike a balance between making a margin and ensuring stock still moves through the supply chain and achieves the optimum sell through rate on the shop floor. When it comes to prices, the majority of GIMA members are committed to reasonable pricing levels, and are fully aware of the negative impact of overpricing.

So could prices come down again? Inflation is usually one way, the effect of which is eventually smoothed out following rises in living wages and a general stabilisation in the economy. However, it needs to be said that in any case, the amount that prices have risen over the last few decades has been miniscule compared to the increase in average earnings over the same period here in the UK. A certain bestselling bottle of fertiliser is one of many products that has been kept at around the same price, which is remarkable considering consumers now earn over £15,000 per annum more on average than they did in 1990.

It is certain that retailers will be looking at suppliers’ price lists this year even more carefully than before, to see just how much prices have gone up, but as an organisation that brings suppliers and retailers together, we at GIMA hope that retail buyers will work with the supply chain to ensure that we both work to shoulder the burden of price inflation together.

Lighting the night

harrogate christmas 7 gift 2017With long nights drawing in, yet mild weather remaining, it’s hardly surprising that families across the UK are enjoying their gardens long into the autumn and consequently the demand for decorative outdoor lighting has never been greater.

Visitors to Harrogate Christmas & Gift are guaranteed to find every type of both indoor and outdoor lighting imaginable to illuminate customers’ homes and gardens – not just for Christmas – but the entire year round. There are numerous exhibitors bringing the latest technology in wifi lighting, solar festive-accessories-harrogate-2017lighting, mains and battery operated lighting and traditional lanterns and candles too. These include: Bonnington Plastics (Stand B04), Flame Homeware (Stand A40), Floralsilk (Stand B1,5), Joe Davies (Stand C19), Koopman International (Stand B11, 21), Luxa Flame Lighting (Stand A03), Premier Decorations (Hall H), The Milford Collection (Stand A02), Triflora Decorations (Stand M24) and Xysto Flame and Fragrance (Stand C27).

A full list of exhibitors and a product search is available on the website at www.harrogatefair.com

Festive accessories 

An exciting new exhibitor at Harrogate Christmas & Gift is North Wales-based company Stands Out which supplies pocket money children’s gifts – all designed by its own innovative team –to attractions and gift shops all over Europe. The company will be displaying its brand new range of JingleBell Jewellery, which includes individually designed Christmas character pop-watches with matching jewellery and hair accessories. All of its products are presented in bespoke wooden display stands.

Visit Stands Out on Stand KS10. 

Countdown is on 

Two fabulous new products from Ackerman International include The Good Elf and Birthday Buddy. Both products are designed to help children count

down to the big day – whether that is Christmas or their birthday. These incredibly cute characters come with fun interactive activities where adults can reward children with stickers for good behaviour ensuring that they get a special treat on the special day.

Visit Ackerman International on stand Q07. 

Glamour and Glitz 

Christmas is the perfect excuse to let go of inhibitions and decorate homes and Widdop and Co is doing all it can to help make that happen.

The company has created nine carefully curated Christmas themes with glitz and glamour summed up in its Black and Gold collection boasting an ultra luxurious look that is both modern and merry. Bring the outdoors indoors with its Woodland collection and think Narnia and snow-covered forests and be inspired by the wintry outdoors to create a cosy woodland themed interior.

Visit Widdop and Co to see these and much more on Stand B13.