Making a Buzz thanks to the National Lottery

We are delighted to announce we have been awarded £965,300 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to launch our Making a Buzz for the Coast project, which has been in its development stage. Thanks to National Lottery players who raised the money, we have been awarded a total of £1,077,900 (including development phase funding)! The project aims to secure the future of Kent’s bumblebees and other pollinating insects spanning 135 miles of Kent’s coastline from Dartford to Deal, starting in October 2017 until September 2020.

Making a Buzz for the Coast is an ambitious natural heritage project, which has been developed in partnership with several organisations, including Kent Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the RSPB and Kent County Council. Focusing on Kent’s wild pollinator populations, especially bumblebees and solitary bees, the aim of the Trust is to mobilise people in Kent to take action to protect these important pollinators.

The project’s three overarching themes, providing habitat, understanding populations and engaging communities and seven interlinked work strands will provide an enormous number of engagement, training and volunteering opportunities for the local community, and 400 hectares of bee-friendly habitat will be created, restored or improved for pollinators to help protect and link isolated populations. Kent has more bumblebee species than anywhere else in the UK and this coastline is a hotspot for rare bumblebees, including the Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum), which is one of the UK’s most threatened bumblebee species.

Making a Buzz for the Coast is fundamental to raising awareness about the importance of pollinators for Kent’s ecosystems, crops and local economy, as well as the special and rare species found along the Kent coast. Improvements to public greenspaces will make them more attractive to pollinators, whilst providing more opportunities for local people to enjoy and learn about wildlife.

BBCT Conservation Manager, Sam Page, said “Our vision is to inspire the people of Kent to take action for bumblebees and other wild pollinators. The Kent coast is a hotspot for some of the UK’s rarest and most threatened bumblebee species – but insect pollinators are also crucial to Kent’s local economy and fruit industry. Through this exciting landscape-scale partnership project, we aim to safeguard Kent’s bumblebee populations into the future.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East said: “We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, this project can now get off the ground to secure the future of some of the UK’s most rare bee populations. This pivotal project is sure to create a buzz amongst Kent’s communities with all the exciting opportunities on offer and we hope it will mobilise people to get involved and help to protect the natural environments on their doorstep.

We would like to extend our thanks to the John Ellerman Foundation, Dulverton Trust, Clark Bradbury Charitable Trust, Schroder Charity Trust, Thames Water, Kent County Council, RG Hills Charitable Trust and Chapman Charitable Trust for their contributions. In addition, we would also like to extend a huge thank you to our members, following their donations to last year’s summer appeal, which means this exciting project is now fully funded!

New Area Sales Manager joins Vitax

Following a period of sustained growth, Vitax has added to its sales team with the appointment of a new area sales manager to work across the South West.

Julian Franklin, who has over 20 years’ experience working in the gardening and horticulture sector, joins from Town and Country where he was area sales manager for the South West for 17 years.

Responsible for managing existing customers as well as securing new business, Julian will be working with clients primarily across Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Julian will also be working closely with Vitax’s existing South West area sales manager – Julian Goodhand – who will continue to cover Avon, Wilts, Hants and Dorset.

This is the first time Vitax has split its southern territory between two managers, but is essential to manage growth as Colin Wetherley-Mein, Vitax’s sales manager, explains: “Vitax has experienced unprecedented growth over the past few years which has seen its customer base in the South West increase considerably.

“To enable Vitax to continue to provide a first-class customer experience, we have taken the decision to appoint a second area sales manager in the region to manage client relationships.

“Julian’s experience speaks for itself and we are delighted to have him on board.  Working in the area for over 17 years, Julian has already built a good network of contacts and has contact with the majority of our clients – which is essential for continuity.”

Julian Franklin with Daniel Wilkinson

Prior to joining Town and Country, Julian worked for Gibbs Palmer but says now is the time for change as Julian Franklin, Vitax’s joint South West area sales manager, explains: “I have worked with Town and Country for the majority of my career and have thoroughly enjoyed my time there, but it is time for a new challenge.

“I know Vitax well and wanted to move to a company that is highly regarded in the industry.  Having worked in London and the South East, I am now based in the West Country and will be able to utilise my knowledge of the area to help Vitax grow further.”

Julian joins a sales team of 11 covering the UK and Ireland.


Greenfingers Charity commissioned TV Gardener Adam Frost to design the new Courtyard Garden at Keech Hospice, Luton with the help of team members from Homebase. As an existing good friend of Greenfingers, the charity was delighted to invite Adam to perform the official opening ceremony held on Monday 17 July 2017.

This is the 53rd therapeutic and recreational garden built by Greenfingers Charity in children’s hospices around the UK from the Isle of Wight to Loch Lomond. Funding for this project very much relied on the generosity of Homebase DIY chain who have been donating all the 5p carrier bag tax collected since the levy was introduced in October 2015.

  • The original plain space was transformed from a drab concrete courtyard with the muscles and resources of Jody Lidgard and his team of skilled craftsmen at Bespoke Outdoor Spaces.
  • They created a colourful, three-dimensional garden with easy access for wheelchairs using plants that will delight all the senses of the adults and children who spend time at Keech Hospice Care and their visitors.
  • This team will also be commissioned by Greenfingers Charity to work on the design and build at another children’s hospice garden in the grounds of St Andrew’s Children’s Hospice, Grimsby – due to be created later this year.

Additional funds were also raised by bride and groom, Jacquie and Paul Hutt, who asked guests at their 2015 wedding to make a donation to Greenfingers Charity in lieu of gifts.

Speaking at the opening, Adam Frost said, “I hope this Courtyard Garden surprises people to start with and then puts a smile on their faces. It’s a wonderful space which seriously ill adults and children can use in many different ways.”

Until now the garden at Keech Hospice Care, which supports adults from Luton and South Bedfordshire, and children from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes, has remained relatively bereft of interesting plants or features since the hospice opened twenty-six years ago.

Adam said he designed the new garden to be a vision of bright colours, with a water feature at its centre and chose bold circular patterns to take visitors on a journey. “I didn’t want to be too clever, but it’s not just any place we are creating. It’s a space that mums and dads and their kids will use and where patients can look out to when they’re being cared for and having their complementary therapy.

“I’ve tried to bring wildlife and the garden inside the hospice and give patients here at Keech Hospice Care a place that is calm and reflective,” said Adam.

Liz Searle, Chief Executive Officer at Keech Hospice Care, said “The new garden will give patients and their families a space to relax at a time in their lives when it matters the most.”

She continued, “It’s the perfect place to just sit and be still. It provides a beautiful space for the opportunity of reflecting, relaxing and escapism not only for patients but also our excellent care team and volunteers. At a time when a person needs peace and quiet or when families want to sit, laugh and make memories – Adam’s garden will be there.

“We all love the bright colours of the garden as we are a hospice full of life! It’s a real oasis, it’s magical. We’ll be showing it off to the public at KeechFest on Sunday, 10 September 2017 as we invite everyone to buy tickets and join us for an afternoon of live music here at Keech Hospice Care.”

RHS Young Designer 2017 Announced at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

24-year-old Ula Maria from Northampton has been awarded a Gold medal and the coveted title of RHS Young Designer at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Show Tatton Park.

Returning for its ninth year, the competition’s theme was inspired by ever increasing working hours. Highlighting the creative and mindful benefits of green spaces, three finalists were selected to design a Show Garden demonstrating what the fusion of garden and office means to them.

Her winning garden ‘Studio Unwired’ was designed as a contemporary outdoor hot-desk office within an urban setting. Creating a space that combines tranquillity with a rustic elegance, the garden is designed to transport users out of the crowded and conventional office space into a serene, earthy environment.
On being crowned as RHS Young Designer 2017, Ula said: “I’m so happy and incredibly proud to have taken part in this competition. It has been such an exciting and inspirational experience to be a part of it and amazing to have the opportunity to do what you really love. I still can’t believe it and I’m so thankful to everyone who helped on the garden.”

Fellow finalist Jake Curley (25) also received an RHS Gold medal for his garden ‘Business and Pleasure’, which was inspired by the New York-style rooftops and highline typical of urban environments. Meanwhile 27-year-old Anca Panait’s ‘Prospect and Refuge’ garden was awarded Silver-Gilt, and offers an enclosed escape from the outside world, using height variations to buffer city noise, creating a space for quiet, undisturbed work.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park has become synonymous with budding new talent with previous finalists going on to design at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, including Hugo Bugg and Sam Ovens, who also won a Gold Medal at the first ever RHS Chatsworth Flower Show this year. RHS Young Designer 2016 winner Caitlin McLaughlin also secured a Gold working with multi-award winning designer Sarah Eberle on an exhibit for nursery giant Hilliers at RHS Chelsea in May, while finalist Kate Saville and 2015 winner Tamara Bridge created the Jo Whiley Scent Garden as part of the Show’s BBC Radio 2 ‘Feel Good Gardens’.
Continuing the theme of youth in horticulture, the RHS Young Landscape Contractor (supported by BALI) and RHS Young Planting Designer 2017 competition also returned to the show for its second year to challenge Young Landscape Contractors and Young Planting Designers to work together and deliver a Garden showcasing their skills. The 2017 winning title of RHS Young Landscape Contractor was awarded to Elliott Hood (26), and RHS Young Planting Designer to Ben Poulter (25) for their coastal retreat, ‘Chaos to Coastline Coastal Garden’.

Tickets are still available for RHS Tatton Park which runs until Sunday 23 July. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

Brand New Website & ‘Lawn Club’

The David Hedges Gower team are proud to announce the launch of their brand new website.  Fresh, innovative and true to David’s belief that lawn care should no longer be the shrinking violet of the horticulture industry, the new site brings the passion and ethics of Modern Lawn Care into reality.

As part of the new launch David is offering lawn lovers the chance to join his ‘Lawn Club’.  For only £29.99 a year, members will have an abundance of lawn care information at their finger tips and also receive a whole host of exclusive ‘Lawn Club’ benefits, with an online members log in to access pages and information not available to non-members.  Benefits include:

  • Questions answered by David Hedges-Gower for members personal lawn issues
  • 15% Discount on Modern Lawn Care – the book, shortlisted at the Garden Media Awards
  • Monthly ‘Lawn Club’ newsletter exclusive to club members
  • Updates and pre-tickets sales for any ‘Lawn Club’ events
  • Competitions – a chance to win great prizes from a host of suppliers
  • ‘Lawn Club’ Members discounts on lawn care products from a fine selection of high profile companies
  • Monthly ‘Lawn Club Podcast’ – hear David talking about Lawn issues and talking Lawns

Why not peruse the new site here…

HTA Board finalises structure review

Following a review carried out over the last few months, the HTA Board has decided to appoint a Chairman to assist the Board in co-ordinating the activities of the Executives and their teams at Horticulture House.

Adam Wigglesworth, President, said: –

“The Board of the HTA has decided that the interests of the Members are best served by appointing a professional Chairman. He or she will be able to give the time and energy to ensuring that the strategic objectives of the Association are being achieved. In addition, the Board will be expecting the Chair to represent the HTA at a senior level to Government and other stakeholders.”

Adam added: –

“The Executive Team, headed by Alex Vick, are specialists in their areas, and I have no doubt that the individual, whether from the industry or not, will quickly be able to get up to speed on the significant issues for the members.”

“The Board will now commence a selection process with the aim of employing the new Chair in the next 6 months.”

Wyevale Ladies race for life and raise £245 for charity

Nine members of staff at Wyevale nursery in Hereford raised £245 for charity by taking part in the city’s Race for Life event last Sunday (July 9, 2017).

The team, which was headed up by Heather Williamson, Joint Chairman of Wyevale Nurseries, all took part in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Heather explained: “We were delighted that so many of our female staff members wanted to sign up for this fantastic event, raising money for Cancer Research UK. The team included Imme Davies, Jules Griffiths, Karen and Billie Jones, Elle Field, Diane Barber, Karen Edwards and Alison Watts. “This charity is entirely funded by the public and is the world’s leading charity dedicated to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. We had such a fun day and all dressed in pink for the occasion. We couldn’t ask for better weather and we’re so pleased that we managed to raise £245 for such a worthy cause.”

Participants had the option to run or walk the event for either 5k or 10k. The venue meeting point was held at Hereford Leisure Centre and the route consisted of the perimeters of the Hereford Golf Course and the sports fields.

The product selection available from Wyevale Nurseries is enviable across the industry and the talented team regularly introduces new, award-winning plant varieties.

Its main business is to supply garden centres, landscape contractors, local authorities, foresters and landowners with a comprehensive array of trees, shrubs, hedging, herbaceous and specimen plants.

For further details about Wyevale Nurseries, which is based in Hereford, please call 01432 845 200,,

Do we really know our native plants?

Many of the plants we think are native, are actually foreign. We have to have foreign varieties because this gives us a wider range of fruit and blooms to choose from.

Even the fruits we think of as being British tend to rely on foreign genes. Markus Kobelt the managing director and founder of Lubera says “The garden blackberry benefits from genes from East Coast America, which are included in the Navaho varieties, which we sell on our website. There are also varieties from the West Coast that have valuable qualities, so they are being included in Lubera’s ongoing breeding efforts.”

Although we have wild crab apples in the UK, and have been using apples for a long time, our garden apples have developed from wild varieties in Kazakhstan, and were probably brought here by the Romans, or the Celts.

Garden roses are bred with genes from Asian roses from China and Japan, which makes yellow and orange flowers possible – we didn’t have them in the Middle Ages! The modern garden rose is at least 50% an immigrant.

And whilst rhubarb has a long history in the UK, it’s real heritage starts in the Himalayas.  It first left its homeland in Tibet or China to be traded as a medicinal product, via the Silk Road. Passed from hand to hand, the details got lost in a game of Chinese whispers, combined with a strong dose of commercial secretiveness.

So rhubarb was originally expensive in Europe, used medicinally by the Greeks and Romans. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that its culinary uses were explored by the West, with the first recorded recipe for sweet rhubarb tarts, and the plant was brought into cultivation in Britain via a strain from Siberia. Once the modern edible rhubarb had developed, it became incredibly popular.

Only wild/alpine strawberries are native to the British Isles. They’ve been cultivated for a long time, but it wasn’t until two American strawberry species (Fragaria virginiana from North America, and Fragaria chiloensis from South America) came together on European soil that the modern hybrid garden strawberry developed. There’s some wild strawberries in some of Lubera’s everbearing varieties (Eternal Love, Fraisonette and Fraisibelle), but most garden strawberries are entirely foreign!

So there you have it, a wonderful fruity tale of adventure and travel from the exotic to our back gardens here in the UK!

Pan-European study on neonicotinoids finds negative effects in bees under realistic conditions

Researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) have published the results of their long-awaited, pan-European field study examining how real-world exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides affects bees. This important experiment, conducted in the UK, Germany and Hungary, supports the results of earlier, smaller-scale experiments which found neonicotinoids to be harmful to bees, especially wild bees. The study found negative effects in domestic Honeybees (Apis mellifera) in the UK and Hungary, while the most damning effects were found in the reproductive capabilities of Buff-tail bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and Red Mason bees (Osmia bicornis) across all three countries.

Buff-tail bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) on oilseed rape.

Lead author, Dr Ben Woodcock said “The neonicotinoids investigated caused a reduced capacity for all three bee species to establish new populations in the following year, at least in the UK and Hungary.”

Gill Perkins, Bumblebee Conservation Trust CEO, said ‘We welcome this major field study by CEH, the findings of which further support the action taken by the European Commission to ban the three most widely-used neonicotinoids on flowering crops due to their harmful effects on bees, particularly wild bees. We remain committed to keeping the ban in place and are currently in the process of updating our policy on neonicotinoid pesticides.  This will be discussed and agreed at our Trustee Board meeting at the end of August.’

Further information about the study, published in Science on the 29th June 2017, can be found here.

The current BBCT neonicotinoid policy is available here.

616 Plants, Three Hours, One Garden – Celebrity Gardener Danny Clarke Accepts the Challenge

Honda (UK) will kick-off its appearance at next week’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show with a live challenge which will see Danny Clarke, aka ‘The Black Gardener’, tasked with creating a nine square-metre vertical installation, made up of 616 plants, in no more than three hours.

Danny’s brief is to create a design based on his interpretation of Honda’s ‘Engineering for Life’ philosophy. The challenge will begin on the Honda stand (HC535) at 11.30am on Tuesday 4th July, with a strict cut-off of 2.30pm to complete the unique installation.

Danny’s canvas for the day will be a 3m x 3m wall-mounted display of 77 Vertigarden planters (, in 11 rows of seven, each accommodating eight 9-10cm pot plants. Once complete, the display will stay in place throughout the duration of the show, with Danny’s creation kept perfectly intact by Vertigarden’s in-built irrigation system.

Danny Clarke comments: “I love a challenge, and this is the ideal brief for me as it perfectly illustrates my mantra that no matter how little time, space or budget you have, you can still create a beautiful garden. I’ve had a lot of fun already in creating a design based on my interpretation of Engineering for Life, and all will be revealed by 3.30 on Tuesday (I hope!).”

Steve Morris, Head of Honda (UK) Power Products comments: “Danny is perfect for this challenge, having worked with him on a number of projects over the last year, he is also a great fit for the Honda brand – not least because of his friendly, relaxed and down-to-earth manner but also his ability in making gardening accessible and sustainable. Our Engineering for Life philosophy encapsulates our engineering excellence, including outstanding reliability and durability, and Honda’s desire to produce quality, user-friendly products in the most sustainable way. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Danny’s interpretation of this is.”

Danny will also be appearing on the Honda stand each day throughout the show to meet and mingle with visitors from 2pm-4pm. All show-goers are warmly invited to come along and meet Danny, to see his creation in the flesh, and to hear first-hand how his design came about.

Away from fast-fit vertical gardens, Honda’s display at Hampton Court will also point to a smarter, cleaner and quieter vision for Lawn & Garden products, with robotic lawn mower Miimo headlining, alongside three ultra-convenient handy cordless products – a leaf blower, grass trimmer and hedge cutter – powered by a highly-advanced 56-volt lithium-ion battery. As an added incentive, anyone purchasing a Miimo at the Show will get a complimentary cordless lawn trimmer including battery and charger, while purchasers of any of the three cordless products will benefit from a free battery and charger.

Completing Honda’s line-up will be its range of premium petrol-driven lawn mowers, starting with the handy IZY range, through to high-end pedestrian models and lawn tractors. For more demanding domestic and professional users, Honda will also show its high-performance four-stroke hedge trimmers and brushcutters.

Honda will be running its popular Tidy offer campaign throughout the Show with savings up to £400 off selected products, and all purchases on the stand will receive a free pair of Briers gardening gloves. The Garden Discovery Trail will once again be running where participants will uncover the secrets and stories behind Honda’s product development and Engineering for Life philosophy to be in with a chance of winning a £1,000 e-voucher for Honda’s official online store.

Follow @HondaUKPower on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with all the latest news on Honda’s power products or visit for further information on Honda’s lawn & garden range.