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.

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

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

Urban Rain Garden will make a splash at Hampton Court Flower Show

Squire’s Garden Centres and Landform Consultants have joined forces to present a stunning contemporary garden at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which takes place 3rd-9th July 2017.

Called “The Urban Rain Garden” the concept is a garden designed to cope with climate change, and in particular the heavy downpours that we are experiencing in England, which can cause flash flooding and problems with drainage. The garden incorporates clever rainwater management techniques, so that all rainwater and run-off from the house is redirected, stored and used within the garden.

Designer Rhiannon Williams, who is just 23 years old said; “My inspiration came from my Masters studies at the University of Sheffield, where I was very lucky to be taught by Nigel Dunnett who is a world authority on rain gardens. I’ve always been keen to design spaces that are not only beautiful but functional as well, and The Urban Rain Garden embodies this, but also more importantly it demonstrates an easy way to adopt a more sustainable approach when it comes to rain water management.”

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.

The front garden includes a space for a compact car to park over a metal grate, below which is a storm water retention pond. The back garden features elements familiar to many residential gardens, including a patio, lawn, and an entertaining area.

Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman at Squire’s commented; “I like the fact that the garden is both an affordable and sustainable design. Planting is zoned to deal with varying water levels within the garden. Very wet areas contain plants like Irises down to dry zones at the end of the garden, containing plants like Salvia, Achillea, and Ornamental Grasses. Structural shrubs and trees provide a sense of enclosure, and there’s colourful planting for summer impact when the space will be used for entertaining.

Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design & Urban Horticulture at the University of Sheffield said, “I was thrilled to learn that Rhiannon was taking on her first major show garden at RHS Hampton Court this year. I think that her design is inspired and will truly capture the public’s imagination. There are many elements that can be adopted for our own spaces and some of the solutions that she offers to cope with our changing climates are truly innovative.”

The Urban Rain Garden is in the new RHS category “Gardens for a Changing World”, which reflects the more sustainable direction that gardening is taking worldwide. You can visit the garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show from 3rd-9th July.

NEW FINANCE DIRECTOR AT MR FOTHERGILL’S SEEDS

Phil Hurst has joined Mr Fothergill’s as Finance Director. He comes to the Suffolk seedsman from the food group Hain Daniels where he was Financial Controller. This followed spells at Molton Brown and Activity Superstore.

After being a couple of weeks into the role, Phil said: “Mr Fothergill’s is clearly a very well run business and has clear goals and objectives. I am looking forward to contributing to future growth plans.”

In his life beyond spreadsheets and graphs, Phil enjoys travelling and has clocked up visits to 27 countries. He also runs home beer festivals for friends and family and admits to being a Spurs supporter.

Memories Are Made of Chelsea

At Chelsea Flower Show 2017, we invited visitors to play their part in Chelsea history by leaving a lasting memory in our memory book and hanging tags on our Davidia involucrata (‘Pocket Handkerchief tree’).

The Memory Tree initiative has been supported by Hillier charity partner Wessex Cancer Trust. To kick it off, a number of famous faces, garden designers and personalities kindly shared their memories, signing unique wooden tags. The first of these was shared by gardening legend, long-term supporter of Wessex Cancer Trust and Chelsea Flower Show favourite, Alan Titchmarsh MBE VMH DL.

Alan Titchmarsh adds the first memory to our memory book


These special wooden tags, together with the memories shared, will be auctioned after the show to raise funds for Wessex Cancer Trust. Details of how to participate in the auction will be announced in due course.

Joanna Lumley takes a quiet moment to share her gardening memory

Dame Judi Dench, who was at the show to launch her namesake rose by David Austin Roses, shares a few thoughtful words

Gardener and presenter Rachel de Thame, pictured here with Jim Hillier from our Trees division, also signed a tag  


The collection of hundreds of additional memories across the week, commemorated by the hanging of delicate copper tags, was also a huge success. By the close of Chelsea week, passersby were stopping underneath the branches of the Davidia, mesmerised by the twinkling of sunlight bouncing off copper from every angle. Fond gardening memories were collected from all over the world, from Chelsea regulars to those superfans of the show from Australia.

Each copper tag on the tree commemorates a memory shared


Thank you to every visitor who took the time to share their memories – happy, funny, poignant – but each one proving what vivid associations people have around time in the garden.