Father and Son-flower growers

This week is British Flowers Week, early sunflowers are harvested for Waitrose, by a father and sons team in the Lincolnshire Fens, near Spalding. Henry and Charles Robinson are the sixth generation of flower growers, working on their 147 year old family farm, with their father Richard. The Robinson’s farm has 420 acres of sunflower fields, with the growers picking eight to nine million stems a year. They also grow sweet Williams for the supermarket, which has a long standing commitment to supporting British growers. During the summer months, 60% of the flowers Waitrose sell are sourced from British farms.

Waitrose Horticulture Buyer, Lucy Matthewson, says, “Sunflowers are a true sign that summer is here and we’re lucky to work with such dedicated British growers to offer our shoppers an abundance of homegrown flowers. And what could be more surprising than treating Dad this Father’s Day to some colourful blooms, grown by a father and his sons?”

Photo credit: Fiona Hanson/Waitrose

Says sunflower grower, Henry Robinson, “Growing flowers for us is not just a job, it’s a passion. We never get bored of seeing our fields of sunflowers. We pick the stems when they are five to six feet tall and by the time they arrive at Waitrose, they’ll be ready to open, showing off their magnificently cheerful yellow colour. I’m due to be a father for a second time this weekend and so this Father’s Day will be extra special for my family.”

British Flowers Week starts next week, running from 19th to 25th June.

Adenophera White Blaze wins Visitor Vote Award at HTA National Plant Show

Visitors to the HTA National Plant Show, sponsored by Hortipak, have voted Adenophera White Blaze from Darby Nursery Stock and Fairweather’s Nursery as Best in Show at the New Plant Awards. The Visitor Vote Award, sponsored by Floramedia, proved extremely popular and with so many great entries in this year’s awards, visitors were spoilt for choice.

The tall flower spikes of this plant are covered in masses of white hanging bells throughout summer due to its long flowering period. Ideal for the middle of a border, it can add delicate vertical structure and soft colour. This cottage garden plant is hardy and very easy to grow.

Full Visitor Vote results were:-

Best in Show – Adenophera White Blaze from Darby Nursery Stock and Fairweather’s Nursery

Best Shrub & Climber –  Hovaria® ‘Elleair Anniversary’ from Javado

Best Annual – Silene hybrid ‘SI 11 04-61 Sparkling Rose from Kernock Park Plants

Best Herbaceous Perennial – Adenophera White Blaze from Darby Nursery Stock and Fairweather’s Nursery

Best Houseplant – Cambria Renaissance Grandeur from Javado

Best Tree and Conifer – Malus siebildii Aros from Frank P. Matthews

For further information visit www.nationalplantshow.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @HTANews #HTAPlantShow

Steph McGovern to host HTA Garden Futures Conference 2017

Garden retail – the great escape – is the theme for this year’s HTA Garden Futures Conference and Dinner, which takes place on Wednesday 4 October at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire. This one day conference and dinner is aimed at all those from across the garden industry from business owners to directors and managers.

The theme of this year’s one-day strategic event reflects the role of both gardens and garden centres as an escape and focuses on the benefits, positive role and unique opportunities that this provides for the industry.

This year’s event will be hosted by award winning broadcaster Steph McGovern from Breakfast News. Steph has been working in financial journalism for over 13 years and has been part of the BBC Breakfast family for the last five. Steph travels all over the UK to cover economic and business news for the BBC and since joining Breakfast has broadcast live from over 500 businesses. On top of this Steph regularly stands-in as a main presenter on Breakfast and this year launched two new shows, a primetime BBC One programme called ‘Shop Well For Less’ and a children’s TV show ‘Pocket Money Pitch’ for CBBC. This autumn Steph will also be joining the presenting team on BBC One’s ‘Watchdog’.

Also, joining the programme is Rachel Lund from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Rachel heads up the BRC’s Insight and Analytics team, and is responsible for all of the BRC’s data gathering and market analysis activities including the Retail Sales and Footfall Monitors.

Josh McBain from the Foresight Factory will present on The Ageless Society demonstrating how the changing demographic provides huge opportunity for the garden industry with a big focus on experiences rather than material objects.

In a session sponsored by Fiskars, botanist, science writer and broadcaster James Wong will be speaking about the role of merchandising and the way in which garden centres can utilise cross-category merchandising to help illustrate the benefit of plants.  This picks up findings from his most recent TV programme ‘The Secrets of your Food” where James looked at how plants and plant science underpin the food that we eat.

Following on from the Retail Lab @ Glee there will be a Retail Lab @ Garden Futures panel session providing the opportunity to find out more about how retailers can make the most of this feature which showcases innovative ways of illustrating lifestyle themes.

Look out for further details about speakers over the coming months.

Make sure you don’t miss out! Book your place now at www.hta.org.uk/gardenfutures

For further information about sponsorship opportunities at the conference and dinner please contact Tim Bell, HTA Commercial Manager Tel: 07808 775 177 Email: tim.bell@hta.org.uk or Phil Swainston, HTA Commercial Sales Executive Tel: 07783 625 037. Email: phil.swainston@hta.org.uk

Malus sieboldii Aros takes best in show at New Plant Awards

Malus sieboldii Aros from Frank P Matthews has been crowned this year as Best in Show at the New Plant Awards on the opening morning of the HTA National Plant Show. The show, sponsored by Hortipak, takes place today and tomorrow (20 and 21 June) at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry.

The New Plant Awards, sponsored by the RHS, are the beating heart of the show and create an area bursting with inspiration for our visitors.

Judging Panel member Tim Upson, Head of Horticulture at the RHS comments, “Malus sieboldii Aros really stood out as a true winner. Whilst purple leaved trees are not uncommon this one has a particularly strong colour and good habit.

He adds, “It has a wide use in different garden situations and with its compact nature is particularly suited to small gardens and patios. With its long season of interest and colour this tree will have wide appeal to many customers and has great potential as a really good seller.”

The winners are:

Annuals
Gold and Best in Category – 
Silene hybrid ‘Sl 11 04-61 Sparkling Rose from Kernock Park Plants Ltd

Herbaceous Perennials
Gold and Best in Category –
Adenophera White Blaze from Darby Nursery Stock and Fairweather’s Nursery

Houseplants
Gold and Best in Category – Gloxinia sonata pink spot from Javado  and Batchmere Ltd

Shrubs and Climbers
Gold and Best in Category –Passiflora Riverside Snow Queen from Newey PPL                                                 

Trees and Conifers
Gold and Best in Category – 
Malus sieboldii Aros from Frank P Matthews                                                     

This year’s judging panel included Tim Upson (RHS), Ian Hodgson (Garden News), Marcus Cousins (Aylett Nurseries), Ken Cox (Glendoick Garden Centre) with HTA’s Martin Simmons overseeing.

All the entries were validated by Joy of Plants.

In addition to the formal announcement in the New Plant Awards area on the opening morning of the show there was also a seminar session for visitors highlighting the award winning plants and the benefits that they bring to help bolster plant sales.

All New Plant Award entries can be viewed at the show and visitors too can have their say by taking part in the Visitor Vote Awards, sponsored by Floramedia. The winner of the Visitor Vote Award will be announced on the afternoon of Wednesday 21June.

The HTA National Plant Show takes place on 20 and 21 June at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. For more information and to register in advance please visit www.nationalplantshow.co.uk

The world’s greatest garden photography competition joins forces with Thompson & Morgan

Thompson & Morgan is pleased to announce its collaboration with IGPOTY (International Garden Photographer of the Year) with the introduction of a new special award, the ‘Joy of Gardening’.

Photographers will enter images of Thompson & Morgan products that they’ve grown and the winners will not only get to showcase their gardening successes, but will also be able to advance their name in photography by appearing at the IGPOTY launch event at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and have their winning photograph published in the annual IGPOTY book.

The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Keukenhof Gardens, Holland with IGPOTY managing director, Tyrone McGlinchey, who will share his wealth of photographic knowledge.

The award sets out to celebrate all things grown from Thompson & Morgan products, from the smallest seedling to the largest fruit tree. The IGPOTY judges will be looking for inspirational photographs that connect people and plants through the joy of growing, and that encourage others to get involved with gardening.

IGPOTY’s manager, Curtis McGlinchey said: “There are so many brilliant and worthwhile parallels between our two businesses that this special award makes perfect sense. For us it’s all about accessibility and inspiration, as we strive to help people engage with nature on a creative level.

We hope to: introduce more people to the rewards of gardening, highlight the attainability of sustainable living, increase awareness of the natural world and champion the accessibility and effectiveness of photography as an art form.”

“We’re excited to offer this new special award in collaboration with IGPOTY”, said Clare Dixey, Thompson & Morgan’s marketing services manager. “As one of the UK’s largest mail order seed and plant companies, with a long tradition of excellence in gardening and horticulture, we’re always keen to encourage people to garden and to grow. To be able to see fabulous photographs of our plants flourishing in people’s gardens, will be a proud moment for us.”

To view the winners gallery from last year’s competition please go to https://igpoty.com/igpoty-competition-10/

To enter, go to https://igpoty.com/competitions/thompson-morgan-joy-of-gardening-2017/

The closing date for the IGPOTY Thompson & Morgan special award is 31st October 2017.

Food to appeal to all the senses at HTA Catering Conference

This year’s HTA Catering Conference, sponsored by Compass Group UK & Ireland, was once again a great success, with lots of positive feedback delegates taking away some valuable insights from our fantastic speakers.

Our Keynote Speaker for day one was Peter Avis, UK Restaurant Manager of the Year. He shared his inspirational story of how he went from a dishwasher to Restaurant Manager at the prestigious Babylon Rooftop Gardens. Through being encouraged by his managers at the beginning of his career, he was able to see how that company culture helps to empower staff and make them feel like they can achieve, and this is something that he has ensured he has continued with his staff today.

The evening played host to our annual HTA Catering Conference dinner where we were graced with the presence of 2016 MasterChef Winner, Jane Devonshire. Jane shared with us her down to earth and inspirational story of how her son convinced her to apply for MasterChef, and how no matter what the competition threw at her, she enjoyed every minute. By cooking dishes from her childhood and family favourites throughout the show, it echoed the sentiment highlighted by many speakers at the conference, that the atmosphere and feelings that you are able to create in your cafes and restaurants and the food you serve are just as important as the food itself. The dinner was followed by the Greatest Catering Awards, presented by Trevor Pfeiffer from Garden Trade News.

Over the past few years the National Trust has rejuvenated their cafes and restaurants, and Matt Drew, Head of Food and Beverage, talked us through the strategies that they used. When they first started to look at the redevelopment plans, the first point of call was the menu. They discovered there were 40,000 recipes in use throughout the business, so they narrowed this down to a range of central recipes that individual outlets can choose from to suit their customers. The ingredients that each outlet choose to use for these recipes though is not prescriptive as they are encouraged to use local produce where possible.

The full HTA Catering Conference report, including details of all the speakers workshops can be viewed atwww.hta.org.uk/cateringconference

WYEVALE GARDEN CENTRES CELEBRATE GOLD & BEST IN SHOW AT BBC GARDENER’S WORLD LIVE 2017

Wyevale Garden Centres were yesterday awarded the prestigious ‘Gold’ as well as ‘Best in Show’ for their scented courtyard garden designed by award-winning Garden designer Claudia de Yong at this year’s Gardener’s Word Live.

The winning garden, entitled ‘Romance in the Ruins’, is a scented courtyard garden featuring two tumble-down turrets in the style of an old fairy tale castle as well as enchanting crumbling walls enclosed on two sides by hedging. Water cascades prettily into a small pond from the back turret and a rose covered pergola takes center stage as people are encouraged to wander through the garden or to sit quietly and enjoy the peaceful space on two wrought iron benches.

Mark Sage, Head of Horticulture at Wyevale Garden Centres, commented:

“With Claudia we have managed to create something really magical this year for Gardener’s World Live. Her mix of more traditional flowers such as roses, nepta, salvia ‘love and wishes’ with wildflowers in the ‘ruins’ of an English castle is both visionary and highly skilled. This is a garden where you can lose yourself and the best thing is anyone can easily recreate the tranquil spirit in their own garden, large or small. We’re sure that by using our tips on what to plant, ‘Romance in the Ruins’ can inspire both experienced and aspiring gardener’s around the country to create something joyful in their own outdoor space, whatever the shape or size.”

Claudia de Yong comments, “I am thrilled with the result and that the judges were so blown away by our garden. A huge amount of hard work has gone into this garden over the last few weeks and months from its conception to realisation. My vision was to create a really poetic garden that transports visitors to another place, inspired by fairy tale castles as well as real English ruins. Using a mixture of wild flowers and traditional flowers together has helped to evoke the gentle romance of English ruins. I hope visitors to Gardener’s World Live enjoy seeing and smelling Romance in the Ruins as much as I enjoyed creating it with the Wyevale Garden Centres team.”

Fun For All The Family at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017

Families can enjoy a variety of activities at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (4 – 9 July) as it reveals an exciting line-up of events for children. Supported by Viking Cruises, this year’s wildlife theme and dedicated Family Saturday (8 July) will offer little ones the chance to learn about animals and insects with plenty to get involved in, including face painting, a children’s cookery school, entertainers and much more.

Creepy Crawlies
Children can look out for Professor Gooblidook’s Creepy-Crawly Quest to Bag Bugs and Beasties storytelling around the show. Starting by the children’s play area, the inventive gardener will be seeking help from young show-goers to discover the wonderful world of bugs with this interactive adventure. The Floral Design Studio will be full of wildlife-inspired floral displays, plus children can go on the hunt to find giant wicker bugs located all around the showground. Meanwhile, children can climb aboard the magical Once Upon a Bus on Saturday and Sunday to listen to wild tales all about bugs.

The Kid’s Cookery School workshops
Children of all ages can grab their chef whites to create culinary delights using fresh, seasonal ingredients at The Kid’s Cookery School Workshops in the Cook and Grow Theatre*. On Sunday, cooking worm extraordinaire Henry Le Worm will demonstrate fun recipes for little chefs to recreate at home. *Spaces are limited, booking on arrival is recommended

CBeebies duo Mr Bloom & Justin Fletcher
Visitors can meet popular CBeebies stars Mr Bloom and Justin Fletcher who will be bringing their friends to the beautiful grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Children will be inspired by the world of gardening as they learn about amazing plants from Mr Bloom (Saturday) and Justin Fletcher (Sunday) in the Celebrity Theatre.

Scarecrow Competition
To celebrate the amazing variety of wildlife Britain has, this year’s Scarecrow competition theme is A Walk on the Wild Side. Schools from the South East of England are taking part in this year’s event and visitors will be able to vote for their favourite from over 70 scarecrows inspired by the people, places and animals from all over the UK.

Butterfly Dome
The tropical Butterfly Dome returns this year filled with thousands of exotic butterflies. Kids can get up close to these beautiful bugs as they fly freely over their heads to create a captivating display of colours as they wander through the dome.

Other exciting events throughout the show include traditional Punch & Judy puppet shows, face painting and balloon modelling.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will run from 4 – 9 July. Every day, two children under 16 can go free with a paying adult and all on-site activities for kids are free. For further information or to buy tickets, please visit the RHS website at www.rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourt

Stewart Garden, set to excite at GLEE 2017

Following on from a hugely successful 2016, Stewart Garden announces its attendance at Glee, the premier trade show for the garden and leisure industry.

The company, now over 70 years old, has a lot to be proud of and to celebrate. Stewart Garden, recently acquired by Keter Group BV, a leading global supplier of resin consumer products for the home and garden, looks forward to showcasing exciting new initiatives on its stand, 18K14-L15.

Stewart Garden is particularly proud of some big moments in the last year, consolidating its commitment to win.

Continued successful launch of new products

Launched in 2016, Stewart Garden strengthened its popular Varese planter family with a distinctive new low bowl planter. Available in Dark Brown and Alpine Grey colour options, the 60cm diameter Varese Low Bowl are available with a recommended retail price of £29.99.

The Versailles family of pewter effect planters further extended Stewart Garden’s offering to its decorative range.

Versailles echoes design themes often seen in formal, structured garden designs and planting arrangements where geometric shapes, symmetrical lines and neatly clipped edges prevail. Available in three shapes, 70cm Trough RRP (recommended retail price) £29.99, 32cm Round RRP £19.99, 32cm Square RRP £19.99.

Investing to support consumers and retailers through merchandising

In December 2016, Stewart Garden unveiled its first Shop in Shop branded installation in a retail outlet.

Created in partnership with Webbs of Wychbold, a flagship garden centre in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, the Stewart Garden Shop in Shop includes a stunning seasonal feature wall in a prominent position within the store.

Shop in Shop is part of Stewart Garden’s commitment to engage with consumers at retail shop floor level. As this is often where customers first encounter its products, the company sees this initiative as a great way to make the brand experience exciting.

Commitment to grow the successful Schools campaign

First launched in 2012, Stewart Garden Schools Campaign has engaged with over 500 schools nationwide, challenging pupils aged 6-11 years to get creative with Stewart Garden products. Schools taking part receive a garden kit to get their projects up and running. The winning school receives £1,000 to spend at its local garden centre.

Looking forward to Glee 2017, Andy Burns, managing director at Stewart Garden, said: “It’s been another fantastic year and we look forward to presenting many new products at the show. We’ll be announcing the winner of this year’s Stewart Garden Schools campaign and launching the 2018 campaign with a celebrity guest, details of which are to follow”.

Stewart Garden loves gardens. It’s a leading grow-your-own and contemporary garden lifestyle brand, the market leader in premium plastic flower planters, including self-watering plant containers, and the voice of authority in premium consumer propagation.

Stewart Garden is a proud UK manufacturer. Its products are available in over 1,600 outlets across the country, including DIY retailers such as B&Q, Homebase and Wilkinsons. They’re also widely stocked at garden centres such as Dobbies, Notcutts and Wyevale and in over 1,000 independent garden centres.

Glee 2017 takes place from 11 – 13 September at the NEC, Birmingham. To find out more, visit www.gleebirmingham.com.

For more information, visit stewart-garden.co.uk.

UK TO HOST SUMMER PARTY FOR CHRISTMAS TREE GROWERS

The earliest Christmas party of the year will be held in Leicester this summer as tree growers of the world unite to make plans for the festive season.

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) is hosting the Christmas Tree Growers Council of Europe (CTGCE) annual summer meeting from 30th May to 2nd June 2017 in Hinckley, Leicester.

This is the first time the event has been held in the UK for more than 15 years.

Harry Brightwell, secretary of BCTGA, said:

“The event sees growers from across Europe attending with some delegates coming from as far as the USA.

We will be taking our guests to visit some exciting Christmas tree farms – Woods Farm in Solihull, Cadeby Tree Trust in Nuneaton and Friezeland Christmas Tree Farm also in Nuneaton – where we will be sharing advice and updates on growing beautiful trees.”

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association, based in Tuddenham St Martin, Suffolk, was established in 1979 to provide a quality standard for Christmas tree growers in the UK and champion the purchase of real Christmas trees. It has over 300 members.

Mr Brightwell said: “We have various activities planned and we are expecting the event to be an informative and interesting few days for all attending and is a wonderful opportunity to share a bit of British Christmas cheer.”