Fryer’s Roses, owned by Blue Diamond, launches a new rose at RHS Tatton Flower Show

Fryer’s Roses, part of the Blue Diamond Group of garden centres, the third largest garden centre retail group in the UK, will be launching a new rose at this year’s RHS Tatton Flower Show on behalf of the former and current Mayor of Knutsford called “The Mayor”.

The Mayor is a pretty vintage pink and gold blend floribunda rose that will continue to bloom throughout the summer. It has semi-double blooms that open to attract bees. The blooms have a light fragrance.

With dark, shiny leaves and a neat bushy habit, to a height of approximately 60-80cm, this rose will make a perfect addition to any garden.

£1 from every sale of this rose will be donated by Fryer’s Roses and Blue Diamond to charities nominated by the Mayor of Knutsford.

“Both the previous Mayor of Knutsford, Cllr Jan Nicholson, and I are honoured that there is a rose from Knutsford’s very own Fryer’s Roses being named “The Mayor”. Fryer’s Roses plays a big part of Knutsford’s history, having been here since 1912, and we are delighted that Blue Diamond Garden Centres are so supportive of the town and will be donating £1 to the Mayors’ charities for every rose sold.” The quote from the Mayor, Cllr Neil Forbes:

“The Mayor” rose is available to order now.

Order at Stand FM74 and PV 710 at the RHS Tatton Flower Show, buy online by visiting or telephone Fryer’s Roses on 01565 755455. Bare root roses can be purchased at a cost of £12 per rose (excluding delivery). Potted roses are £17.99 per rose (excluding delivery). Delivery charges apply. Please see our website for details.

Bare root roses will be dispatched from November 2017 onwards. Potted roses will be dispatched from April 2018.

The rose will also be available to buy from any Blue Diamond Garden Centre from April 2018 onwards priced at £17.99 (per potted rose), whilst stocks last.

A donation of £1.00 from each rose sold by Fryer’s Roses/Blue Diamond will be donated to charities nominated by the Mayor.

Skin Check Success at Hillier Eastbourne

Hillier garden centres recently teamed up with the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund, a local charity that raises awareness of the importance of sun protection and early detection of melanoma.  Each store featured their Watch Your Back! campaign, an initiative supported by 6 of the best-known gardeners in the UK, educating all gardeners on how to stay sun safe whilst pottering in the garden this summer.

On May 20th, the charity teamed up with Mr Siva Kumar and his team from the Melanoma & Skin Cancer Unit at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead to run a check clinic at Hillier’s Easbourne branch.

Siva Kumar and Joyce Skipworth, happy after her all clear skin check diagnosis!

Slots were pre-booked on-line and the event was fully booked in just over a week, proving how significant skin problems have become in recent years.  The day generated over 100 appointments with surgeons referring 10 people to their GP for further investigation, plus the early detection of two melanoma’s, potentially saving lives.

Charity representatives chatted with customers about their sun protection habits and provided advice on skin checking, discussing why, when and what to look out for.  The charity gave out bottles of Ladival sunscreen in return for a small donation to the charity, supported by the branch post event, raising a grand total of £1021.86.

All funds received will help the charity run its campaigns, raising further awareness of melanoma, which is now the fastest growing cancer in the UK.

Chris Francis, Hillier Wholesale and Retail Director, said “We are delighted to have helped directly impact the health of our customers by hosting this event.”.

For further details on the work the charity does, please visit


The Urban Rain Garden has won a Silver Gilt medal at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Squire’s Garden Centres and Landform Consultantsjoined forces to present this stunning contemporary garden in the new RHS category ‘Gardens for a Changing World’, which reflects the more sustainable direction that gardening is taking worldwide.

The garden is designed by Rhiannon Williams, one of the youngest designers at the show aged just 23. It showcases clever rainwater management techniques, so that all rainwater and run-off from the house is redirected, stored and used within the garden. A really unusual feature of the design is that there is both a front and back garden with a walkway in-between. This allows show visitors a 360-degree view of the garden, giving it a very interactive feel. Natural stone supplied by London Stone and a stunning planting scheme goes to show that gardening can be sustainable without compromising on beauty.

Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman at Squire’s commented; “It’s a beautiful garden, which is contemporary and sophisticated, and it is also thought-provoking, as it addresses the issues of climate change and sustainability. Planting is zoned to deal with varying water levels within the garden, using a subtle colour palette of purples, greens, yellows and whites. The garden is a very relaxing space to be in, and the craftsmanship and execution is second to none.”

Designer Rhiannon Williams said of her medal; “I couldn’t be more thrilled. This has been a fantastic experience from start to finish and the team has been amazing. I always wanted to create spaces that are beautiful, functional and inspirational and The Urban Rain Garden will hopefully do just that. My aim was to demonstrate how designed interventions, both small and large, can be incorporated into our gardens, to allow us to adopt a more sustainable approach to water management.”

You can visit The Urban Rain Garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show from 3rd-9th July.


Bunnings UK and Ireland today announces it is to expand its pilot program, and will have 20 stores by the end of 2017 – twice as many as previously expected.

The announcement coincides with the opening of the fourth Bunnings Warehouse in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire; the largest in the UK and Ireland to date. The store, on the site of the former Homebase in Snowdon Drive, occupies over 90,000 square feet, and employs 140 team members – including 88 in newly-created full and part-time roles. Bunnings continues to invest in the team and has provided more than 1,500 hours of training.

The increase in the number of Bunnings Warehouse pilot stores is a major step in developing the format in the UK’s £38 billion-a-year home improvement and garden market.

It follows a positive response from customers to the first pilot stores in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. To date, the new stores have created more than 220 new jobs, with more than 1,000 new roles anticipated by the end of the year.

Bunnings also recently announced two new additions to the UK and Ireland senior leadership team. Damian McGloughlin, Chief Operating Officer, and David Haydon, General Manager, who bring with them over 55 years’ industry experience. These new hires reflect Bunnings commitment to strong, sustainable leadership and long-term growth within the UK home improvement market.

Managing Director PJ Davis said: “Our decision to extend the pilot programme reflects the positive reaction we’ve seen from customers to the stores we’ve opened so far.

“Increasing the number of pilot stores to 20 will give us the opportunity to test the concept in new geographies, with different demographics, across a range of store sizes.

“We are determined to combine the best of Bunnings Warehouse with what UK consumers want. The success of the pilots still remains a precursor to additional investment.”

Michael Ward, Director General UK Trade & Investment Australia and New Zealand said: “This is a significant investment by Bunnings which will create hundreds of jobs, providing security to families across the UK.

“The Department for International Trade works with companies around the world to promote the strengths of the UK and this investment from Bunnings is yet another endorsement of the UK’s attractiveness to overseas investors.”

The next store to open after Milton Keynes will be in Folkestone, Kent in July. Following that, the Homebase stores in Thanet (Broadstairs), Sittingbourne, Kent and Basildon Vange, Essex will be the next to be redeveloped.

Bunnings, one of the world’s leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products based in Australia and New Zealand, acquired Homebase in February 2016. The company, part of Australia’s Wesfarmers Group, plans to invest up to £500 million rolling out the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK and Ireland over the next three to five years. The first four pilot stores opened earlier this year in St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes. Bunnings Warehouse gives customers the lowest prices across the widest range of products, supported by the best service.

Weather divides north and south in May

Results of the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade show that the weather was a big factor in sales during May (2017) and divided the country.

Compared to the same month last year (2016) sales in the southern part of the country were between 9% to 13% down, whereas the north fared better with sales down by between 2% and 6%.

Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, explained: “The weather played a big factor in our member garden centres’ May sales figures, with, contrary to the norm, the north having better weather than the south. However all of our member garden centres had a tough job trying to top the figures from May 2016, which was the highlight of last spring.

“Clothing sales were up 35.18% compared to the same month in 2016. Catering sales were also up 7.4% and houseplants at 2.95%.” Outdoor plant sales were -7.5%, seeds and bulbs -16.37% and garden sundries -7.32%. Furniture and barbecue sales were -12.47%, gifts up 1.22% and hard landscaping -14.39%. Food hall and farm shop sales were up 0.23%.

Martin Cowell, Director at Cowell’s Garden Centre, said: “After a buoyant start in May, which included a bumper Bank Holiday weekend, the second week in May was a disaster. The daily average temperatures were between 12 and 14 degrees, which certainly hampered sales, however the last two weeks saw the weather improve and sales were flying again.

“We ended May -1% down on 2016, which considering the weather, and record sales the previous year, we were very pleased with. It could have been much, much worse. Our top five performing departments in May were bedding at +6%, perennials +12%, shrubs +6%, garden lighting +88% and irrigation up +24%.”

Member garden centre sales showed an average overall decrease for the month of 4.64% and an average overall Year to Date increase of 6.4%.

The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement. They are made available mid-month following the end of the prior month after all member garden centres have submitted their results.

Bookings up at GCA Plant Area Forum at Ball Colegrave with more places now available

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) is hosting its second annual GCA Plant Area Forum for plant area managers and plant buyers at Ball Colegrave in July (July 20, 2017).

The event on July 20 will once again be facilitated by GCA inspector, Roger Crookes, who is also the organisation’s Ruxley Rose plant area competition judge this year and believes passionately in the power of plants.

Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, said: “Our first Plant Area Forum last summer was a big hit with all those who attended. It was a highly motivational day and this year’s event promises to be just as inspiring. Bookings, so far, this year are ahead of last year’s, but we can now take more people if others would like to join us.

“The day will give delegates the chance to see the Ball Colegrave trials grounds and the opportunity to network with like-minded people from garden centres across the country. The event includes a comprehensive agenda covering ways of maximising plant sales, stock management and benchmarking sales.”

Delegates will be asked to share ideas and information, discuss the challenges they face, as well as analyse sales and profitability and discover potential opportunities.

There are still some places, which cost £79 per person, available for the event and members can find a booking form on the GCA website or contact the GCA office direct on 01244 952170.

“All the delegates will be asked to carry out some pre-Forum homework because part of the day will include a session to benchmark key performance indicators to help people assess their own centre’s performance against others. They’ll share information and come away with new ideas and

be challenged to think differently.

“Using the information they bring, delegates will analyse the space occupied by a category in relation to the value of sales for that category. So, it might be that we find some plants occupy a great deal of space but that doesn’t justify the sales they generate or vice versa. It promises to be an enlightening and profitable day all round.

“It’s also a wonderful opportunity to see the Ball Colegrave trial grounds in all their summer glory, be one of the first to see their new introductions for 2018 and the day offers the chance to network with colleagues from centres from all around the country.”

GCA Plant Area Forum for plant area managers and plant buyers takes place at Ball Colegrave in Oxfordshire on July 20 from 10am until 4pm. Food and refreshments will be provided.

To book you place, please call 01244 952170 or visit


Adrenaline junkie Conna Powles, buying director at Haskins Garden Centre, will be attempting a wing walk to raise money for Greenfingers Charity on Sunday July 2. Initially setting out to raise £1,000 to help build gardens for children spending time in hospices across the UK, Conna has been overwhelmed by support and is currently set to donate £4611.69!

Talking about her forthcoming Greenfingers Charity challenge, Conna said, “I like to complete a challenge or host an event every year for a cancer charity, having lost my brother recently and my sister is in remission. To date I’ve completed a parachute jump, an abseil and The Moonwalk and I now just need to tick off wing walking. After watching a video about the benefits children and families get from having a beautiful space to go to, Greenfingers Charity seemed the obvious choice to support.”

Greenfingers Charity are also delighted to receive a further £5,945 from Haskins Garden Centres, of which £2945 was donated from the stores 5p carrier bag tax. Head Office cake sales and raffles across all four centres topped the figure up.

To support Conna and her ambitious wing walk please visit

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


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.”


The third Bunnings Warehouse store in the UK and Ireland opened its doors to customers on Friday 9 June in Hemel Hempstead, Buckinghamshire.

The new store, on the site of the former Homebase at Apsley Mills Retail Park, continues the momentum of establishing the Bunnings Warehouse format in the UK’s £38billion-a-year home improvement and garden market.

The Hemel Hempstead store is over 64,000 square feet and employs 111 people – including 53 in newly created full and part-time roles.

It also stocks more than 27,000 different home improvement and garden lines, including paint mixing services from Johnstone’s Trade, Crown and Dulux and a new tool shop offering world-leading brands such as Ryobi and DeWalt.

The company, part of Australia’s Wesfarmers Group, plans to invest up to £500million rolling out Bunnings Warehouse stores across the UK and Ireland over the next three to five years.

To celebrate the opening, Olympic gymnast champion and Hemel local Max Whitlock MBE hosted a welcome breakfast for team members.

Max said: “It’s great that Bunnings has chosen Hemel Hempstead as the location for its third store in the UK. Hemel is where it all began for me so I’m delighted to be back opening the store. I’m sure it will be a huge success.”

The new store’s Complex Manager, Darren Reid, added: “Our team members have worked really hard to get the store ready for opening and are looking forward to sharing their expertise and enthusiasm with customers in Hemel. We’re ready to welcome people to the new store!”

And the fun doesn’t stop there. The new store will also be hosting two grand opening weekend events with a raft of free family activities on 17/18 and 24/25 June. Customers can enjoy face-painting, balloon modelling and even join Peppa Pig & George for a Story Time session (see in store for details).

About Bunnings UK and Ireland

Bunnings is the leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products in Australia and New Zealand. As of 12 December 2016, in Australia and New Zealand, Bunnings operates out of 357 trading locations (of which 248 are warehouse stores), employing over 40,000 team members.

In February 2016 Bunnings acquired Homebase, the second largest home improvement and garden retailer in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Bunnings Warehouse opened its first two stores in St. Albans in February/April 2017, with additional stores confirmed in Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes and Folkestone. As of May 2017, it also operates as Homebase out of 252 trading locations, employing over 12,000 team members in the UK and Ireland.