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.

GIMA Golf & Activity Day Round Up

Last week, suppliers and retailers from the garden retail industry came together for a day of fun, team building and networking at the GIMA Charity Golf & Activity Day, raising much needed funds for Greenfingers and St.Richard’s Hospice.

The 2017 event marked the first time that Kwik Cricket and the Laser Clay Shooting Challenge were added to the mix, opening the event up for more industry colleagues to get out from behind their desks for a day of team building and fun.

In total 17 teams entered the annual golf competition, and another two completed the rivalry over on the Kwik Cricket and Shooting pitches.

On the golf course, the biggest prize on the day was over the 18 holes. It was a fiercely fought competition but it was the team from Grange Fencing who retained their winner’s title, taking home the trophy for the second year running. Coming up a close second was Smart Garden’s A-team, with the Mr Fothergills team following behind in third position.

As always, the golfers had not just their handicap to beat, but a number of other prizes up were for grabs keeping the competitive juices flowing. The winners of all the prizes from the golf course included Steve Harper, James Mitchell, James Parr, Steve Ainscough, Simon Neat, Jerry Walker, Phil Swainston and Raoul Curtis Machin, who all successfully beat the pro. Each of these lucky winners took home a voucher for a ‘four-ball’ at Telford Golf and Country Club.

There were also several spot prizes available, the winners of each receiving a bottle of champagne and sleeve of golf balls. The winners were:

  • Nearest Pin 3rd Hole – Pete Bunker
  • Nearest Pin 11th Hole – Chris Owen
  • Nearest Pin 16th Hole – Andy Bestwick
  • Nearest Pin in 2, 8th Hole – James Mitchell
  • Longest Drive 14th Hole – Dave Kearsley
  • Straightest Drive 18th Hole – Derek Bunker

The competition was equally fierce over on the Kwik Cricket and Shooting pitches in Lilleshall, the cricket club of Colin Wetherley Mein of Vitax. The first time these events have been added to the roster, participants were unsure to begin with but quickly discovered their talents for both the cricket and laser shooting. Like the golf, these events also included a sense of friendly competition with Andrew Peers winning the shooting challenge, and a team made up of colleagues from Cadix, Kelkay, Glee, Bathgate and PetQuip winning the overall challenge.

Vicky Nuttall

Aside from the fun, there was also a serious element to the day, and that was to raise funds for two most deserving charities – Greenfingers and St Richard’s Hospice, the latter being selected as GIMA’s 2017 charity by GIMA president, Chris Ramsden. The total fund raised will be revealed at the GIMA Awards on July 13th, Celtic Manor.

Talking about the Golf & Activity Day, Vicky Nuttall, GIMA Director said: “What another fantastic event. The weather may have been a tad unpredictable but nothing we aren’t all used to! It was so great to see so many retailers and suppliers coming together for a day of networking, friendly competition and fun. I’m sure Greenfingers and St Richard’s Hospice are going to be overjoyed by the endless generosity of all those that attended.

“Our thanks go to everyone who attended, as well as all the staff at the Telford Hotel & Golf Resort, and Lilleshall Cricket Club. Here’s to next year!”

 

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT APPOINTMENT AT MR FOTHERGILL’S SEEDS

Matt Jackson has joined Mr Fothergill’s as Business Development Manager. This is a new role and Matt will work with the key garden centre groups and collaborate closely with the field sales teams. He comes to the Suffolk seedsman after 12 years in the garden centre supply trade and brings great experience to the position.

Matt said: “I am delighted to be joining Mr Fothergill’s to team up with their accomplished sales force. There are exciting plans for the future and I hope to contribute my part to the full!”

In his personal life, Matt enjoys travelling and sport. He has run over 100 road races in the past including two trips around the London Marathon course. He is now concentrating more on road cycling and has ambition to complete the severely testing, mountainous, Etape du Tour race in France. He is also a Manchester United season ticket holder but the company hasn’t held that against him!

GRANGE STRENGTHENS MARKETING TEAM WITH TWO NEW APPOINTMENTS

Leading garden structures company, Grange Fencing has boosted its marketing team with the appointment of two dedicated team members.

With over 15 years of marketing experience, CIM-qualified Mark Morris has been appointed marketing manager at Grange Fencing and will be responsible for ensuring continuous progression across all aspects of the company’s marketing and communications strategy. Mark will be supported by recently appointed marketing executive Peter Holloway, who brings with him an in-depth knowledge of retail marketing and relationship management.

Commenting on his new position, Mark said, “ Grange Fencing is a well known and hugely respected name in the industry and I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be part of the company’s strategic planning. Grange is at an exciting stage in its development and I look forward to overseeing the company’s ambitious plans throughout the coming years.”

Mark and Peter will be joining Grange’s head of commercial, Rob Giles and marketing co-ordinator, Julie Hall to create a steadfast marketing team.  Of the recent developments, Rob said, “ We welcome Mark and Peter to the team and are confident that their experience and knowledge will be instrumental in bolstering Grange Fencing’s credibility as a market leader in its sector.

For more information about Grange Fencing and the company’s range of garden structures and fencing, visit www.grangefen.co.uk

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.

Westland winner donates part of his prize to grandchildren’s school

Westland winner Peter Knight from Taunton has donated part of his £1,000 prize to his grandchildren’s primary school to use in its garden.

Peter was one of the first to win a competition held by Westland to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its No.1 selling compost, Westland Multi-Purpose Compost with John Innes.

He bought the compost at his local garden centre, Monkton Elm in Taunton, which is where he also collected his prize. He spent the money on a few gardening supplies for his own garden, donating the rest to North Newton Community Primary School, which his grandchildren Sophie (8) and Harry (5) attend.

The school will spend the money to enhance a garden for early years’ pupils, which is used to help children connect to nature and to give an understanding as to where flowers, vegetables and fruit come from.

David said: “I always buy Westland Multi-Purpose with John Innes as it’s a good quality compost that delivers consistent results. As a gardener myself, I feel it’s really important that we teach the younger generation how to get outside and grow. My grandchildren love their school garden and so I knew this would be a worthwhile way to spend part of the prize money.

Peter with trolley

“I have given the school an Olive Tree, which is what they wanted, a pot for it, compost (Westland of course!), and some play sand. For my own garden I have bought a few plants, a selection of Westland products and some tools I always wanted, and I’ve saved some vouchers for further items throughout the year.”

Westland also donated £150 worth of Kent & Stowe hand tools for the school which will be arriving in the coming weeks.

Jen Richardson, Senior Marketing Manager for Westland said: “We ran this promotion to celebrate the success of our popular Multi with JI compost which celebrates its 15th birthday this year. It’s been a highly profitable promotion for retailers, generating a 22% increase in sales so far. We will also be using PR to generate publicity around the winners as an added benefit for retailers.”

Contact your Westland Sales Rep to order in the celebratory 50L and 60L packs. The 3 competition winners for April were:

 Peter Knight, who bought from Monkton Elm Garden Centre in Taunton

 Julie Shaw who bought from Homebase in Huntingdon

 Sue Ainsworth who bought from Sycamore Garden Centre in Ellesmere Port

Bosch Cordless mini-saw with NanoBlade technology.

After 5 years of research and development, Bosch Home and Garden introduce the new EasyCut 12. This is the world’s first cordless mini saw of its kind. The highly innovative product has been shortlisted for the RHS product of the year.

The EasyCut 12 is unique due to the Nano blade technology; the world’s first saw blade with a Micro chain with 44 teeth for a 65mm cutting depth, the blade alone as over 40 patents!

The Nano blades come lubricated so you don’t have to worry as the Nano blades are 100% maintenance free. This save time, so you are free to perform multi-functional sawing such as plunge cuts and free hand cuts, as well as sawing in 2 directions. The versatile functionality of the Easycut 12 allows cutting both indoors & outdoors such as in the Garden for tasks such as effortless pruning of trees and bushes.

Additionally, the EasyCut 12 is easy to use because the innovative Nano Blade technology ensures vibration free sawing! So you can be assured that the Easycut 12 will give you superior control and high levels of precision when cutting, this especially for when a straight cut is needed. Also, equipped with Bosch SDS, enables you to change the Nano blade without the need for additional tools such as bolts and Allen keys!

Equipped with Lithium-ion technology, you can be confident for no memory effect and no self-discharge. Its low weight of just 900 grams, and its’ outstanding ergonomic design ensures sawing is effortless for working with wood and plastic. The 12 V battery gives you maximum freedom of movement and enables you to achieve high precision at all times when working in the garden or when performing demanding applications. Complex projects are also no problem with the EasyCut 12 because its battery offers more runtime per battery charge thanks to the Bosch Syneon Chip. Thanks to the Syneon Chip, the Easycut 12 always provides optimum power and maximum endurance in demanding tasks such as when sawing dense wood.

The Easycut 12 is the latest member of our 12 Volt power for ALL family, which has wide range of products to suit your DIY and Garden needs from drills, sanders, to grass trimmers. This means that you can grow your existing tool collection by buying baretools. You can use your 12V battery from the Easycut 12 on a range of 12V Bosch home and garden tools which can save you money.

Three weeks until HTA National Plant Show 2017 opens its doors

With a focus on creating a VIP experience for our visitors this year, you would be foolish to miss out on visiting the HTA National Plant Show 2017, sponsored by Hortipak. Taking place on 20 and 21 June at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, this year is sure to be the best one yet, providing a fantastic showcase for UK growers.

We know how hard it is to visit all the stands you want to at a busy exhibition, so we have worked to make a long day on your feet as pleasant as possible. We have worked closely with the venue to enhance the experience our visitors, and this year’s show will include rehydration stations around the halls offering ice cold, lemon and mint infused water, fruit stops where you can grab one of your five a day, and Food on the Go pods where you can pick up a bowl of summery soup and a fresh bread roll. These are all complimentary to our visitors to make the show even more enjoyable.

With this year’s partnership between the Salon du Végétal fair, HTA National Plant Show and HTA Nursery Supply Show, there will also be a much greater European audience this year, with direct and indirect flights between Nantes and Birmingham, and a welcome and lounges specially set up for foreign buyers.

Make sure you download the show app available for downloading from the app stores now (App Store for Apple devices and Google PlayStore for Android devices). Just search ‘HTA Plant Show’.  In the app you can see seminar listings which you can set reminders for so you don’t miss a session, a full exhibitor listing with contact details and links to website, with the ability to highlight any you have seen as a reminder for after the show, as well as speaker and sponsor profiles, notes capacity and much more.

Keep an eye out over the coming weeks when we will be featuring other events taking place at the show. Visitors can save time on arrival to the show by registering for a visitor badge in advance, allowing them to go straight into the show.

For more information and to register in advance please visit www.nationalplantshow.co.uk

REVISITING CHESTNUT TREE HOUSE FOR CHILDREN’S HOSPICE WEEK

Described by The Telegraph as ‘the hospice garden that changes young lives’, the Woodland Walk Gardenat Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice has given seriously ill children from East and West Sussex a truly magical outdoor space to enjoy. The garden was designed by award winning garden designer and Greenfingers Charity Patron, Ann-Marie Powell, on behalf of Greenfingers Charity.

WATCH: Ann-Marie Powell in the Chestnut Tree House Garden for Greenfingers Charity 10 Million Moments Appeal

This once unusable piece of land is now a stunning  woodland area with looping paths and circular decks. Children and their families enter the space through enchanting ‘moon gates’, going on to discover a bug zone, stick walk and teepee. Families can spend precious time together at the natural pond with viewing space, or create memories in the picnic area with special benches to accommodate children in wheel chairs.

As with all Greenfingers Charity gardens, every detail was carefully considered to give children at the hospice a truly magical outdoor experience.

If you would like to support Greenfingers Charity and help to create more magical gardens for children and their families who spend time in  hospices across the UK, please contact us at info@greenfingerscharity.org.uk or visit our Get Involved Page.  To keep up to date with our work, sign up here to receive our Greenfingers Charity newsletter.

B&Q SUPPORTS UK BEES BY ANNOUCING BAN ON GROWERS TREATING ANY FLOWERING PLANTS WITH NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES

To help support wildlife and address the declining bee population, the UK’s leading home improvement retailer B&Q today announced its flowering plant range, available from February 2018, will be grown free from all neonicotinoid pesticides. The move means the retailer is the first to commit to ensuring no neonicotinoid pesticides are used in the cultivation of flowering plants, particularly pollinators where they present the biggest risk of harm to bees. B&Q previously led the field by removing from sale, ahead of legislation, pesticide products containing the three neonics most associated with bee population decline: imidacloprid, thiacloprid and clothianidin.

“As part of our commitment to supporting Britain’s wildlife, in 2013 we reviewed the use of neonicotinoids in our garden chemical products,” explains Rachel Bradley, B&Q’s Sustainability Manager. “As a result of the findings, and ahead of EU restrictions, we withdrew all pest control products containing the three substances most linked to the decline in bee population.  We are now able to confirm that, to further support pollinators, we are encouraging everyone to do more for wildlife and to that end we will ensure that none of the flowering plants we sell will be grown using any pesticide containing any of the nine neonicotinoids.”

The announcement comes on the launch of a new report from B&Q, ‘The Nature of Gardens’, that examines how gardens can be good for nature and how that can be good for us. Though gardens in the UK are changing, every outdoor space, no matter its size, can deliver benefits for wildlife. The report also examined people’s attitudes towards supporting and engaging with wildlife and the environment, seen through the lens of gardens, with a focus on what prevented Brits from doing more.

The report, written in partnership with Bioregional, a charity and social enterprise which champions sustainable living, found that 67% of people were concerned about wildlife in Britain and 63% believed that there was a benefit to bringing wildlife closer to home. However, one in five people with small gardens admitted they did nothing for wildlife citing time, space, money and lack of knowledge as the biggest barriers.

Great Yellow, Credit Bumblebee Conservation Trust

To show how people can do more to support nature outside their own homes, B&Q created 10 Top Tips to Bring Wildlife Closer to Home – that are specifically tailored for the UK. Designed to be easy, requiring minimum cost, time and space, the tips include advice on taking part in wildlife surveys, creating a bird café, giving wildlife shelter and planting for pollinators, demonstrating that helping local wildlife is far easier, more accessible and rewarding than most realise.

The report also found that scientific evidence confirmed the wellbeing benefits of connecting with wildlife are extensive, from better educational attainment, a better sense of wellbeing and better long-term mental and physical health.

Rachel Bradley, Sustainability Manager at B&Q who spearheaded the report, commented “At B&Q, we’ve been helping people to support wildlife in their gardens for years, through advice and products ranging from pollinator-friendly flowers to pond liners. But until we commissioned this report we didn’t realise quite how important our gardens could be for nature. And while we’ve always known that people love connecting with nature in their gardens, we’ve found overwhelming evidence that garden wildlife and greenery is good for us too. We want to help everyone to do a bit to bring nature closer to home, and to enjoy it more too. That’s the aim of our top tips. It’s easy and affordable, makes a real difference and you don’t even need a garden – you can green up a balcony or a doorstep.”

Nick Schoon, Policy and Communications Manager at Bioregional who wrote the report in partnership with B&Q commented “Our gardens have amazing powers to do good for nature and good for us. There is a wealth of evidence for this out there and now we’ve brought it together to make a really strong case. By looking after wildlife and nature in our gardens, we’re helping to look after ourselves and our planet. The good news is that millions of us are already doing something, and millions more could easily join in.”

‘The Nature of Gardens’ is also supported by RPSB, Butterfly Conservation, Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts.

B&Q’s Top Ten Tips to Bring Nature Closer to Home:

  1. Look out for wildlife & share your discoveries : Becoming a citizen scientist by taking part in wildlife surveys is a great free way to become more aware of what’s already out there. The more you talk about what you are doing, what you have seen and encourage others to join,  in the more fun it becomes.
  2. Pop up a bird café: Offering food and water is the fastest easiest way to attract new visitors to your space.
  3. Plant for pollinators: Nothing says summer like the sound of bees buzzing and the sight of butterflies –fragrant flowers in a pot or a bed are an irresistible addition.
  4. Give wildlife some shelter: A log pile is great for butterflies, bug houses provide homes for mini beasts, a leaf pile for hedgehogs or install a bird or bat box – for best results make sure you are careful with positioning.
  5. Get nature savvy with your shopping: Use fewer garden chemicals.  Look out for pollinator attracting plants and insist on forest friendly wood and peat free composts to help nature near and far.
  6. Just add water: A pond can be any size, even a buried bowl can provide a home for various mini-bugs and insects like damsel flies. Constructing a pond using a preformed shape or flexible liner will give much greater variety. Create shallows so that plant life can flourish and allow wildlife to enter and leave. But don’t have a pond if you have small children around. A bird bath provides water for birds to bathe and drink.
  7. Max out the green: Nurture what trees and shrubs you have and bring more in wherever possible. Nature needs habitats at all levels so trees are fabulous but climbers are super space efficient.
  8. Help wildflowers flourish: Plant a mini meadow in a pot, wildflowers in your borders or just spare a patch of lawn to let the grass and flowers grow long.
  9. Open hedgehog gateways at the bottom of your fence: One of our most loved species, hedgehogs love to roam, but fencing can be a barrier. Creating a gateway either in or below your fence will make life easier for them.
  10. Make your cat safe and seen: The United Kingdom is home to 7.5 million cats. Cats can be a threat to wildlife but a bright collar and bell can reduce risk, as can keeping them indoors from an hour before dusk and an hour after dawn.