David Austin Roses are delighted to announce that their rose garden exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show has been awarded a gold medal.  This accolade was combined with the premiere of three new varieties and a warm welcome to a Hollywood star, Dame Judi Dench.

Yesterday, three generations of the Austin family welcomed the great British icon of stage and screen, Dame Judi Dench,to the David Austin rose garden
at the Chelsea Flower Show to officially launch the new English Rose named in her honour.
Dame Judi was delighted with the accolade commenting
“…. would a rose by any other name smell as sweet….isn’t it beautiful.  It is very healthy and has a rather laidback quality”.

The relaxed style of the rose tickled Dame Judi’s sense of humour – and she appeared rather chuffed with the rose’s qualities
– indeed the characteristics of the rose seemed to be the perfect match for its namesake.

Great success for 40 Sunbury Road exhibit at Chelsea following a busy press day

The industry exhibit ’40 Sunbury Road’ has achieved a Silver Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and one of the featured new plants Dwarf Mulberry Charlotte Russe from Suttons has taken the title of RHS Plant of the Year.

The garden, put together by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), is run in conjunction with Peter Seabrook and The Sun and is a celebration of Peter’s 40 years working at the newspaper.

APL member Bowood Landscapes have helped to build the garden, which features ideas and inspiration from a typical modest suburban back garden, and celebrates and promotes the vibrant and strong garden and landscape industry that we have in the UK with growers and suppliers providing plants and sundries.


The exhibit received a lot of interest at the press day on Monday 22 May including a Royal visit from Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Other visitors to the garden included Joan Collins, Susan George, Jerry Hall, Rupert Murdoch, Alan Titchmarsh, Deborah Meaden and Baroness Floella Benjamin.

Peter Seabrook was presented with a bottle of champagne by HTA President Adam Wigglesworth and HTA Director of Operations Martin Simmons, to thank him for the work he and his team had done to help coordinate the garden.

The exhibit also saw the launch of the import substitution for oak report with HTA Head of Horticulture Raoul Curtis -Machin, HTA President Adam Wigglesworth and Kevin Hobbs from Hillier Nurseries.

The 16m x 5m plot in the Great Marquee features plants and sundries from growers and suppliers all of which are available nationwide in UK garden centres. This includes hanging baskets from Kerleys, Haskins Garden Centre, Bents Garden and Home and Aylett Nurseries, mint planted teapots grown by school children and dementia sufferers.

The garden features over 15 new plants including five that were entered for RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year including the winner – Dwarf Mulberry Charlotte Russe from Suttons), Pelargonium PAC Spanish Wine Rose (Cramden Nursery), Betula pendula ‘Fastigiata Joes’ (Frank P Matthews), Lilly Sunset Joy (Pinetops Nurseries) and Strawberry Just Add Cream (Thompson & Morgan).

Westland Horticulture’s ‘Rising Stars’ have created specially planted containers, with the three Rising Stars themselves (Emma Blackmore from Bents Garden & Home, Kathryn Hunt from Stewarts Garden Centre and Samantha Davies from Haskins Garden Centres) will also be at the Show on Thursday, May 25 to tell the story of their unusual planted containers.

The garden also features the Wonderwall vertical planting system with strawberries, thyme, salad and confetti plants – demonstrating how outdoor space can effectively use height to gain impact. Perennial, working with Fiddlehead Products, provided a roof top fairy garden on the featured shed within the garden, providing added interest with plants and conifers from Gedney Bulb Plant Company and Golden Grove Nurseries.

Forest Garden provided the shed and the decibel noise reduction panels with WoodBlocX providing raised beds, Bradstone the paving and a patio cleaning equipment from Hozelock.

Companies and brands from across the industry have joined together to contribute to 40 Sunbury Road including Aylett Nurseries, Armlee Nurseries, Ball Colegrave, Barcham, Benary, Bents Garden & Home, Big,  Cramden Nursery, Dobies, Double H Nurseries,  Eden, Evi loves you!, Fleuroselect, Floranova, Forest Garden, Frank P Matthews, Genesis, Haskins Garden Centres, Hozelock,  KADO, Majestic Trees, Myerscough College,  Neudorff, Pinetops, Plants for Europe, Quantil, Rolawn,  Seiont, Stewarts Garden Centre, Suttons, The David Colegrave Foundation, Thompson & Morgan, Westland, WoodBlocX, WonderWall, Wyevale Nurseries amongst others.  Many thanks to them all.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place from 23-27 May 2017.

Import Substitution for Oak

The HTA launches a report today on import substitution of oak trees (Quercus species). Since 2013, the UK has imported 1.12 million oak trees, according to official Defra statistics. There is a great opportunity for the UK to increase production of this iconic tree, thereby boosting the economy and improving biosecurity.

The report identifies the reasons for the high import levels of oak, and suggests collaborative solutions for industry and government to address them. The main challenges are to improve supply chain efficiency, improve public procurement and market conditions, and encourage better sourcing of UK-grown trees.

The horticulture industry exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (40 Sunbury Road – GPE169 in the Great Pavilion) celebrates the oak tree with a fabulous specimen supplied by Majestic Trees, and a beautiful fairy wood of seedling oak, hazel, birch and horse chestnut, grown by school children.

Kevin Hobbs, Raoul Curtis-Machin and Adam Wigglesworth with the Oak Report

Raoul Curtis-Machin, HTA Director of Horticulture, says:
‘There are no physical reasons why we shouldn’t be growing most of our own oak trees in the UK. We hope to discuss this important report with the new Government, once they are settled after the election. It would be great to work together to achieve manifesto promises of millions of trees during the life of the next parliament. The exact same promise was made in the last one, and this fell short.’

The report Import Substitution for Oak (Quercus Species) can be downloaded from


New Senior Executive Director for HTA

Mrs Alex Vick

Mrs Alex Vick

As part of the on-going review into the management structure the HTA Board have appointed Mrs Alex Vick as the Senior Executive Director with immediate effect.

Alex brings to this role a wealth of experience in financial and commercial management as well as proven leadership experience. Alex is a Statutory Director of the HTA, having joined the Board in April 2016.

Adam Wigglesworth, President, said “I am delighted that Alex has accepted this position. Her commitment and enthusiasm to improving the HTA for the members has become clear to the Board. I am confident that with her direction, the Leadership team of the HTA will focus on the areas that bring most value to its members.”

He added “The HTA is fortunate to have a senior team with specialist knowledge which working collaboratively, can cover the very diverse issues affecting all of our members. The HTA Board are currently in the process of reviewing the management structure and Alex’s appointment is step one in ensuring the organisation drives forward and continues to look after the interests and needs of its members better.”

The Senior Leadership team at the HTA comprises –

Alex Vick – Senior Executive Director and Finance Director
Anne Clark –Director of Human Resources
Martin Simmons – Director of Operations
Raoul Curtis-Machin – Director of Horticulture

Chelsea, Chelsea! Rising Stars get ready for world famous flower show!

Westland_Rising_Stars_LogoWith under a week to go, Westland Horticulture and the Rising Stars Programme are getting ready to exhibit at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

A total of 3 Rising Stars will be taking part and have created a specially planted container to exhibit, which will be seen by members of the public, journalists and perhaps even royalty!

The Rising Stars themselves will also be travelling to Chelsea Flower Show on Thursday, May 25 to tell the story of their container, which is based around the theme of ‘unusual containers’.

The containers will take pride of place in the ’40 Sunbury Road’ garden in the Great Pavilion next week. The garden has been created by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) in conjunction with Peter Seabrook and The Sun and is a celebration of Peter’s 40 years working at the newspaper. It aims to create a typical modest suburban back garden that consumers can relate to, whilst at the same time inspire and provide some new and interesting ideas that could easily be copied. Plants and sundries have been provided by suppliers and growers for this collaborative industry exhibit.

Here’s what the Rising Stars had to say about their creations which will be featured in the garden:

Kathryn Hunt – Stewarts Garden Centre in Christchurch, Dorset

“My container is created in homage to my beloved black Labrador Harley who died last year. One of Harley’s favourite pastimes, was going for walks in Black Park, a vast woodland area with fields and heathlands and also a massive man-made lake. The plants in the container are plants that grow there throughout the park. The rustic barrel planter and the bark that has been used to top dress it, add to the ‘woodland’ look.”

Sarah Stewart – Klondyke Garden Centre in Falkirk, Scotland

“I will be using a kettle barbeque as the container with a mini garden inside. This will be planted with a selection of alpines, ferns and grasses, some lovely pebbles to give it a landscaped look and some bunting to give a real sense of celebration.”

Emma Blackmore – Bents Garden Centre in Preston

I’ve created my container in a toy car which we have in our children’s Boutique at Bents range. It’s planted with some really bright and colourful bedding plants. I got inspiration from my daughter who spends so much time exploring and playing outside but doesn’t tidy up after herself, so you’re sure to find some sort of toy lying around.”

Keith Nicholson, Marketing Director for Westland Horticulture, sponsors of the Rising Stars Programme, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Rising Stars and their garden centres to exhibit at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

“Not only will they have the opportunity to experience another element of the horticulture industry, but they will also be able to be part of the most important horticultural event in the world.”

Scottish potato enthusiasts go for Gold Medal hat trick at Chelsea Flower Show

Morrice and Ann Innes of Newmachar, north of Aberdeen, have won a prestigious RHS Chelsea Gold Medal at the renowned annual Flower Show for the past two years. They are returning to the Great Pavilion this year in the hope of making it three in a row. What is unusual is that there are no flowers blooming on the Innes’ exhibit. Their stand, sponsored by Thompson & Morgan, is a showcase of potatoes; a homage to the tuber.

The potato display aims to highlight the diversity and versatility of the nation’s favourite vegetable, whilst tracing the origins of some of the potatoes in Morrice’s extensive collection of some 500 varieties.

In 2015, Morrice and Ann won the first ever Chelsea Gold Medal for a potato-only display in the show’s 150 year history.

Displayed on the stand this year will be a selection of Wild Solanum potato plants, grown by Morrice and Ann, and by Thompson & Morgan’s potato expert, Colin Randel, as well as around 150 potato varieties in all shapes and colours. According to Ann, there will also be some ‘weird and wonderful’ tubers of Solanum Tuberosum, cultivated from wild species of the group Stenotomum, as well as a selection of mini tubers which are in the early stages of new variety production.

The display will feature a new variety, Vizelle, which will be launched in September 2017 ready for the 2018 growing season. Vizelle will be available exclusively from Thompson & Morgan.


Clematis and Architectural Salvage

When the RHS said that Chatsworth was the show at which to “..let your imagination run wild..” Peter at Thorncroft Clematis took that statement very literally and we now must complete one of our most challenging exhibits ever!

Thorncroft Clematis will be working with Mongers of Hingham, architectural salvagers who are known across the world, to create a display of clematis the likes of which you will never have seen before, with some fascinating structures and containers to feast your eyes on. This is ‘up-cycling’ done in a very different way!

When we turn to our gardens for relaxation and pleasure, sustainability is perhaps not foremost in our thoughts and why should it be? Well with everyday life consuming more and more of the worlds precious resources, anything we can do to re-use materials of all types, for any purpose, will make a difference and we don’t think there is any reason why that should stop in the garden.


Our Chatsworth exhibit will show different ways of using fascinating old containers and unique structures to display your clematis in the garden as well as wowing you with our  wonderful blooms.

The challenge for us is that we have never done anything like this before and we have only just (12th May) been able to select the structures and containers we are using for our display! That’s only 3 weeks to make the final plan, decisions on what plants can go where and in the meantime we have the ‘small’ matter of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show!

We are not going to tell you any more about our plans because we want you to come along and see for yourself what can be achieved but here are a few plants we plan to feature.

We are delighted to have two new clematis this year as part of our collection from the renowned clematis breeder Barry Fretwell, who, like us, has a love for the Peak District. He named these two plants in honour of places he loved to visit.

What more appropriate clematis is there for this flower show than ‘Chatsworth’?!
This superb clematis is a prolific plant with a long flowering period typical of its family viticella, starting around June and finishing in September. You will get around 8 – 10 feet of growth in a year so good coverage can be expected on your fence, arch or pergola and you will be delighted by its profusion of dainty pale pearly-blue hanging flowers, which have a slightly darker bar.

Grab one while you can, they are a rare plant! Available Now £16.00 for a 2 litre pot.


Then we have ‘Lathkill Dale’ a beautiful little integrifolia type of clematis for your herbaceous boarders.
This bushy little border plant produces very pretty pale blue, outward facing flowers. They start from mauve hanging buds opening and raising up to face you as they open.
‘Lathkill Dale’ is a scrambling clematis that dies back each winter to a crown, so if you want it to grow up provide herbaceous plant supports and it can make about 3-4 feet in height. Available at the show in small numbers more will be available in autumn 2017. £16.00 for a 2 litre pot.

Exclusive to Thorncroft, PERNILLE ‘Zo09113’PBR This little treasure is a very prolific viticella clematis, meaning wilt free, long flowering and hardy. What more could you want?!
Pretty and striking flowers of white have a deep purple margin maturing to pale violet purple are borne in great abundance on this strong clematis. You will find that PERNILLE ‘Zo09113’PBR will grow very well as a companion to roses or other climbers or shrubs and because it is abundant in bloom, will fill an obelisk nicely too.

Available Now £16.00 for a 2 litre pot.

The 2017 Young Horticulturist of the Year is Scotland’s Lachlan Rae!

This year’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition came to an exciting end on May 6th at University Centre Shrewsbury where the final 8 competitors fought for the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world with a £2,500 bursary. The bursary is provided in honour of Percy Thrower, Britain’s first celebrity gardener, known for his work with the BBC on Gardeners world and Blue Peter. This year’s competition received over 2,500 entries from young horticulturists under the age of 30 from all over the UK and Ireland.

Pictured above from left to right – Matthew Brewer, Peter Adams, Josh Egan-Wyer, Julia Andersson, Bryan Howard, Fern Champney, Lachlan Rae, Egle Zinkute, Nathan Foulds.

Lachlan Rae with President Owen Doyle

The day began with a series of plant identification rounds which proved to have an enormous impact on the scoreboards later in the competition. An audience of over 70 people arrived to support the final 8 contestants, including headline sponsors Peter Hunt from MorePeople, Raoul Curtis-Machin from the Horticultural Trades Association, and more than 20 members of the Shropshire Horticultural Society including Percy Throwers three daughters. Also in attendance was Nick Smith, Show Director of the Harrogate Flower Shows – the next location for the 2018 competition.

The competition itself began just after 11:00 and after the first few rounds Lachlan was already in the lead, closely followed by Fern with just one point between them. But after the points from the mornings identification rounds were added into the mix, we saw Josh rise to first place with Julia and Lachlan following in close behind. Going into the final round there were 20 quick fire questions with 40 points up for grabs. Fern started in the lead, but very quickly Lachlan showed his abilities taking away 17 points and allowing him to take first place. Competition organiser Susan Nicholas said she had never seen such a tight competition with only 5 points between first and second place.

2012 YHOY winner, Douglas Mackay said “They hid their nerves much better than I remember managing to and it was so closely-fought! The day had a great buzz and you feel so energised by all that horticultural knowledge.”

Lachlan Rae with Percy Throwers Daughters

After the final round, we heard an inspiring speech from James Hodgson, one of the founding trustees of the Percy Thrower Trust. The prizes were then due to be presented by SHS Chairman, Richard Whittingham, however Richard thought it would be more fitting to have Percy Throwers’ three daughters present the certificates, so Margaret Thrower, Ann Kirkham and Sue Jones took to the stage.

As well as their certificates, each finalist received a collage of one of Percy Throwers horticultural projects -the dingle,  a book and free membership to both the CIH and Plant network. Lachlan Rae now has his opportunity to plan how he will spend his £2,500 during his extended visit to Australia and possibly Tasmania. Fern goes home with £950 and Josh with £550 while the rest of the runners up all receive £200, all to be used in any way they wish.

The competition was covered by BBC Shropshire’s Paul Shutterworth. After the competition when asked where he would like to see himself in the future, Lachlan replied “Looking forward towards the future I could quite happily see myself in a television gardening role”

It would be fantastic to see Lachlan following in the footsteps of Percy Thrower, taking inspiration from Britain’s first celebrity gardener.

Kelkay appoints a new head of marketing

Kelkay has announced the appointment of Sarah Downing to the senior management team in the newly created role of head of marketing. Sarah comes to Kelkay with many years’ industry experience including several years at Gardman where she was latterly marketing director until 2015 when she relocated to the Yorkshire region to take up a similar role with Humber Bondholders.

During her time in the gardening industry Sarah managed the strategic development of new brands, developed trade communications including POS and print and played a pivotal role in the management of the company’s attendance at GLEE as well as driving forward the creation of website and digital marketing programmes.

Antony Harker said: “I’ve made this new and strategically important appointment to help us respond to the increasing demands on our business and of course to support our continued growth. I am delighted to be welcoming Sarah to the team at Kelkay. I have been aware of her achievements and the impact she made in the garden sector and I’m looking forward to working closely with her on a number of exciting new projects.”

During her time at Humber Bondholders, Sarah worked with a number of global businesses like Siemens, Smith & Nephew and BP so she has great experience of major corporate organisations, but she also has a very practical and hands-on approach to working to support the UK’s garden centre trade.

“I’m delighted to be joining Kelkay at such an exciting time in the businesses’ development when there is such strength and momentum in the company, so to be part of that and back in an industry that I love is just brilliant,” said Sarah: “It’s clear that Kelkay is focused on delivering market leading products and producing creative merchandising solutions for its customers. I’m really looking forward to developing the new role and helping the business take the marketing function one step further – exploring new ways to demonstrate continued innovation.”

Squire’s donate nearly £4,000 to charity Greenfingers

Squire’s Garden Centres are pleased to announce that they are donating £3,847.82 to the charity Greenfingers. This is the amount of money raised from the government 5p carrier bag charge since April 2016.

Squire’s customers have bought over 96,000 5p carrier bags in the last year, which has generated the money that is being given to Greenfingers, a charity who creates magical gardens at children’s hospices around the country.

Deputy Chairman Sarah Squire commented “We are delighted to pass on the proceeds from the government 5p carrier bag charge to Greenfingers. They create such amazing gardens for children and their families to enjoy at hospices around the UK, at a time when these families are facing huge challenges.”

Linda Petrons, Head of Fundraising & Communications at Greenfingers Charity added “We are extremely grateful to Squire’s for choosing to support us this way. This generous donation will help us reach our target of £1 million as part of our ‘A Million Moments’ appeal. Through the appeal we aim to bring the gift of a garden to at least 5,000 children and their families who spend time in hospices throughout the UK.”

The 5p carrier bag charge came into effect on 5th October 2015. Since then Squire’s have donated a total of £5,676.90 from the carrier bag levy to Greenfingers. This is in addition to other fundraising carried out for Greenfingers throughout the year.