GCA announces regional award meetings

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) members will find out who has come out on top in its annual inspections this year at regional award meetings taking place this July (2017). Garden centres are encouraged to attend the event in their area and to bring as many of their team members along as possible.

Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “Our annual inspections are drawing to a close and early feedback is looking positive, but if members want more information on how they fared they will need to go along to their nearest area awards meeting. “During each meeting the inspector for that particular area will present their findings from the area, highlighting best practice and new ideas, and will announce all the category winners.”

The Wales & West region award meeting will take place at Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre near Taunton, Somerset on Thursday, July 13 and the inspector attending is Andy Campbell. Roger Crookes will be presiding over the North West/North East regional meeting on Wednesday, July 19 at a venue still to be confirmed. The Midlands region will meet at Planters, Tamworth on Tuesday, July 25 with inspector Alyson Haywood, while the South Thames region will meet with Michael Cole at Castle Gardens in Sherborne, Dorset on Wednesday, July 26.

Staff from Brimsmore Gardens with their awards during a previous Wales & West regional award meeting.

On Thursday, July 27, Gordon Emslie will present his findings at the North Thames meeting at Ayletts in Hertfordshire. The Scotland and Northern Ireland area awards meeting will follow later in the year on September 7 at Klondyke Mayfield with inspector Gordon Emslie.

Iain added: “Our round of annual inspections started in March. Many GCA members have said that the unique annual inspections and constructive feedback sessions are one of the biggest benefits of membership. It is a fantastic motivational and management tool and really keeps staff on their toes, making sure they are always doing their absolute best.

“Garden centres receive no advance warning about when their inspection will take place and they do not have the option to turn away the inspector. It is all about making sure they are offering a consistently excellent service and improving their customer service standards, which is what all GCA garden centres must do to remain members.

“The results of the inspections form the basis for many GCA awards, including Destination Garden Centre of the Year, Garden Centre of the Year, Area Winners, Highly Commended and Most Improved Garden Centre. The top 10 centres will receive a Garden Centre of Excellence Award and all centres scoring 75% or above receive the Highly Commended certificate.”

For further information, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit www.gca.org.uk

Mr Fothergill’s Launches Biggest Advancement in Seed Technology Since, Optigrow

Suffolk seed supplier’s 2018 Optigrow range brings benefits for retailers and home gardeners with premium pricing, faster germination and better garden performance

Mr Fothergill’s is the first retail seed brand to adopt revolutionary Swedish seed priming technology previously only available to professional growers. The firm has carved a niche for developing new seed marketing concepts to target specific market segments, skill levels and price points. It is marking 40 years of business in 2018 with the launch of the Optigrow seed range, which it says is the most exciting development for home growers since the introduction of F1 hybrid seed varieties.

The non-chemical treatment supersedes all previous priming treatments, speeding up germination and bringing other benefits that were previously only available to commercial growers. Seed shelf life is greatly extended compared with traditional seed priming, providing a longer sales window, while the technology and end results allow for a premium price point in store, further increasing profits for retailers.

The process uses just water and air to get the seed biologically ready for germination, breaking seed dormancy prior to use. At this point the seed is dried back to a storable state for packing. The technology brings genuine and valuable performance benefits to 20 of the most popular vegetable seed varieties in the Mr Fothergill’s range, making its best sellers even better.

Mr Fothergill’s Retail Marketing Manager, Ian Cross, said: “The Optigrow range marks a real step change in the seed market and is certainly the most exciting development since the introduction of F1 hybrids. In fact, the process the seeds go through is so much more than simple priming that we refer to it as seed ‘vitalising’. Not only does it significantly speed up germination times, it creates greater garden performance too.”

Through extensive trialling, the Optigrow process has been proven to produce more vigorous seedlings, stronger weed competition, more uniform crops and better end results, leading to greater success and better harvests for the home gardener. There is also evidence that germination becomes possible under a wider range of conditions, allowing gardeners to sow Optigrow seeds in colder, warmer and drier conditions than the ideal. In comparison trials nearly 80% of Optigrow treated Carrot Amsterdam seed germinated within 50 hours from sowing, compared to 90 hours for the same percentage of standard seed.”

The benefits of the Optigrow range are supported by contemporary packet design, a stand-alone hot spot stand and simple explanatory point of sale material to give the range prime focus in retail areas, creating one of the strongest 2018 seed offerings available to garden centres, shops and retail outlets. Orders are now being taken for delivery from January 2018.

For the full Mr Fothergill’s 2018 retail offering visit


SBM Signs Up to Back Greenfingers

After raising £3,150 for the Great Garden Re-Leaf 20 Mile Walk, SBM Life Science has formalised its support for Greenfingers, making it the company’s Charity of the Year.
The SBM Life Science team, which is responsible for the Phostrogen®, Baby Bio® Toprose and Provado® brands, will organise events and activities throughout the forthcoming year in aid of Greenfingers.
“The newly formed SBM Life Science organisation is delighted to pledge its support and partnership to further help the terrific work of the Greenfingers Charity,” said Darren Brown, Country Head, SBM Life Science Ltd.  “The entire UK SBM team is motivated to make a difference to this terrific industry relevant cause.”

 Linda Petrons, Head of Fundraising & Communications at Greenfingers Charity, said: “Following the team’s involvement in Garden Re-Leaf Day, we are delighted SBM Life Science has chosen to support Greenfingers as their Charity of the Year.  We very much looking forward to working together to bring the precious gift of a garden to more children, and their families, who spend time in hospices across the UK.”

From left to right: Linda Petrons, John Ashley (Chairman), Darren, Lisa Barrow (SBM National Account Manager).
Greenfingers is a charity dedicated to creating beautiful, well-designed outdoor spaces at children’s hospices for the children and their families and friends to benefit from and enjoy.
To date the Greenfingers Charity has created 52 inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces in hospices around the country, and is planning seven more, four of which should be completed in the next 12 months.  SBM Life Science’s support will contribute to this valuable work.