SARAH RAVEN RACES AHEAD IN 4,000 METRE DASH!

Since its launch in 2012, the Sarah Raven flower collections, in partnership with Johnsons Seeds, have sold over 4,000 metres of seed, in over 700 retail outlets. Helen Clayton, Johnsons Brand Manager comments “These beautiful flower collections remain very popular with customers, showing there is still great interest in growing flowers for cutting and for attracting wildlife into gardens.”

The ‘Cut Flowers & Beautiful Gardens’ and ‘Brilliant for Bees & Butterflies’ ranges were launched following resurging interest in cut flower growing and gardening for wildlife. Whilst both collections have proved popular with retailers and customers alike, the cut flower collection has seen an increase in sales over the last couple of seasons, headed up by Ammi majus, the best-selling cut flower variety.

The collections each carry 47 choice varieties, selected by Sarah from flowers she has grown herself in her gardens at Perch Hill Farm. Each variety being a strong garden performer that can be direct sown where they are to flower, bringing high rewards with minimal maintenance.

New for the 2018 season, customers will be able to enter a competition to win a place on one of Sarah Raven’s flower gardening courses at Perch Hill Farm. Runners up will also receive a Wild Flowers book, signed by Sarah herself. Look out for the new on-stand point of sale highlighting the competition, in stores from August 2017.

Mr Fothergill’s Launches David Domoney Seeds for Grow-Your-Own Newcomers

Following the success of continued partnerships with the likes of the RHS, RSPB, Sarah Raven and Jekka McVicar, Mr Fothergill’s has teamed up with celebrity gardener David Domoney for 2018, with the launch of David Domoney’s Get Growing seed range.

Aimed at newcomers to grow-your-own, the collection includes 66 of the most popular vegetable varieties and 10 easy to use seed mats and tapes. Packet backs offer simple, jargon-free instructions and a QR code links to further ‘on the spot’ advice from David.

Packet fronts employ easy reference icons designed to sell the simplicity of the products. In store, the stand-alone range is displayed A to Z, and uniquely includes smaller pea and bean packets more suited to smaller scale growing and beginner gardeners than traditional pea and bean packaging.

The targeted range joins Mr Fothergill’s growing portfolio of retail seed concepts aimed at specific consumer groups and skill levels. Segmented ranging has increased market share for the Suffolk seed firm in recent years, and this looks set to continue with further launches and product development in the pipeline for 2018 and beyond.

Mr Fothergill’s Retail Marketing manager, Ian Cross, said: “Beginner gardeners can be overwhelmed when faced with the full Mr Fothergill’s retail range for the first time. The David Domoney Get Growing range offers tried and tested vegetable varieties, backed by a trusted face of gardening. Newcomers can now make a quick and informed buying decision from a honed offering that is just for them. We’re increasingly seeing targeted ranges hitting the right spot with consumers, and our retail customers are seeing stronger sales as a result.”

David Domoney adds: “I am delighted to be working with the team at Mr Fothergill’s. Growing seeds is such great fun, and I want my range to encourage many more budding gardeners to get growing from seed. Whether garden experts or first-timers connecting with a plant, the moment seed germinates is a special experience that everyone should enjoy.”

The David Domoney seed range joins an RHS endorsed AGM collection and a premium Optigrow treated seed range as the key Mr Fothergill’s launches for the 2018.

Visit www.mr-fothergills-trade.com to build your retail seed offering for the season ahead.

RHS and Mr Fothergill’s join forces to launch trusted AGM seed range for 2018

Mr Fothergill’s is delighted to announce that it has become the preferred partner for licensed seed and seed gifting products for the Royal Horticultural Society. The company has worked with the RHS to offer a new seed range built on the reputation of the Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit which is being offered to trade outlets now.

The RHS has recently won the coveted “Best Licensed Heritage or Institution” section in the 2017 Brand & Lifestyle Awards. Mr Fothergill’s bright new seed range will add further to the strong RHS licensed gardening offer.

Split into vegetable and flower offerings across a two-stand display, both selections include a balance of top performing modern strains and traditional favourites that have all received the famous Award of Garden Merit. With no cross over with existing lines the range can be treated as a stand-alone display or integrated into a larger offering of Mr Fothergill’s seeds.

Clean and elegant packet fronts carry the widely recognised RHS emblem and the trusted AGM insignia alongside the Mr Fothergill’s logo, creating immediate brand recognition and consumer confidence as soon as the range is displayed in store. Quality plant photography, and soft pastel shades add a premium feel to the range, making it the jewel in the crown of the 2018 seed season launches.

David Carey, Mr Fothergill’s Joint Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be working as the preferred seed partner of the RHS. The packaging and display that we have developed together will really lift this range in-store and will perfectly complement our existing offer. We look forward to seeing the Mr Fothergill’s RHS Award of Garden Merit range enter stores in August and we are already working with the RHS to develop exciting product concepts for future release.”

Not only will gardeners be guaranteed excellent performance from the new range, they will also be doing their bit for local wildlife and the charitable work of the RHS. The flower varieties in the collection have, wherever possible, been selected from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list, maintained by RHS entomologists and beekeepers.

Orders are already being taken for delivery to stores and garden centres in August. For more information visit www.mr-fothergills-trade.com or call 01638 751161 to be put in touch with your local territory sales manager.

Be Sure with Gro-Sure – £1m TV and national press spend!

Garden retailers can ‘be sure’ they are stocking the right products this spring, with £1m pledged for Gro-Sure’s TV and national press campaign.

The Be Sure with Gro-Sure® campaign is back on TV screens with a series of 10 second TV adverts, supported by national advertising. These will drive 14m consumers to your doors. It is estimated that 2 out of 3 consumers will see the adverts at least once.

The adverts each feature different gardeners who are not sure how to achieve success in their gardens. Gro-Sure® products provide reassurance and a solution to their problems. There are 2 separate 10 second adverts to promote Gro-Sure® Smart Lawn Seed and Gro-Sure® Easy Containers Compost. They will be aired from April 24 to May 29, including key Bank Holiday weekends.

Jen Richardson, Senior Marketing Manager for Gro-Sure said: “Our research tells us that regardless of gardening experience, many of us are unsure how to get the best results. Gro-Sure® packets feature our ‘Grow with Certainty’ promise, meaning consumers are given reassurance they have picked the right product.”

Get your pumpkin seeds ready for April 12th – National Pumpkin Sowing Day

Next Wednesday, April 12th, is National Pumpkin Sowing Day and horticultural mail order company, Thompson & Morgan is urging the British public to get involved. Whether you’re a gardener or not, it’s easy to pop a pumpkin seed into a pot of compost and watch it grow.

Thompson & Morgan launched a specific seed sowing day in response to the many pumpkin-related queries it receives in October when pumpkins are in shops in the lead up to Halloween.

“We sponsor the UK’s giant pumpkin growing competition each autumn and we always get so many enquiries at the weigh-in, asking how to grow pumpkins at home”, said Paul Hansord, T&M’s commercial director and himself a keen pumpkin grower.

“So we’ve decided to set a date and once people have sown their seeds, we’ll support them with growing tips and advice – whether they’re aiming to grow a giant record-breaking pumpkin or a good-sized one for carving at Halloween.”

Thompson & Morgan made the news in 2016 when the firm paid £1,250 for a single pumpkin seed. Its pedigree was proven when RHS Hyde Hall’s Matt Oliver won the award for the largest outdoor-grown pumpkin from this very seed and now the seeds from his appropriately-named, ‘Matt’s Monster’ can be purchased from T&M.

For those wishing to grow a more modest-sized pumpkin other pumpkin seeds are available from T&M, such as ‘Jack Of All Trades’, (TM00630 £2.49 for 10 seeds) for carving at Halloween or for those who simply have a penchant for pumpkin pie or a hearty pumpkin soup.

T&M will be supporting pumpkin growers after they have sown their seeds with information on how to grow giant pumpkins and on growing regular pumpkins for Halloween on its website, as well as with timely posts on social media.

Sarah Raven seed sales reflect 2017’s big fashion trend

‘Easy Elegance’ is the buzz term being used by fashionistas and interior designers for the 2017 spring season in a push for simplicity, function and individuality on the high street. But it seems UK gardeners are ahead of the trend when it comes to cut flower and wildlife gardening, with a host of elegant and easy annuals remaining at the top of the sales chart in both the Sarah Raven Cut Flower Collection and Wildlife Attracting Collection.

Both ranges were launched in 2012 in partnership with Johnsons Seeds, following resurging interest in cut flower growing and gardening for wildlife. The collections each carry 47 choice varieties, but eight easy hardy annuals have dominated cut flower sales and another six remain the best sellers for wildlife gardening. All are strong garden performers that can be direct sown where they are to flower, each bringing high rewards with minimal maintenance.

Since the ranges were launched, Ammi majus has been the best-selling variety (net sales) in the Cut Flower Collection, while Eschscholzia ‘Orange King’ has occupied either 1st or 2nd position (net sales) in the Wildlife Attracting Collection.

Helen Clayton, Johnsons Brand Manager said: “The popular cut flower varieties in the collection are not often seen in florist shops – while they each make elegant vase specimens they don’t transport well from field to store to home. Gardeners can quickly and easily transfer them from the garden to a vase for simple chic bouquets that you won’t find on the high street.
“The top sellers in our Wildlife Attracting Collection go to show that your garden doesn’t need to look wild to support wildlife. California poppies are some of the prettiest and elegant annuals you can grow, yet they also support a wide range of garden pollinators.”

Varieties in both ranges can be direct sown through March and April for stunning garden displays this summer. View them here:
Sarah Raven’s Cut Flower Collection
Sarah Raven’s Wildlife Attracting Collection

Spud prices up? T&M’s are down!

With spud prices set to soar for retailers and consumers, Thompson & Morgan brings down the price of seed potatoes and repeats its mantra to ‘grow your own’.

According to sources such as the Financial Times (Feb. 3 2017) and London-based data firm, Mintec (30 Jan. 2017), UK potato prices are up 30% year-on-year due to a decline in production.  Their figures show a reduction in UK potato output for 2016/17 of 5%, whilst yields for the 2016/17 season are estimated to be down 8% on last year due to adverse weather conditions seen throughout the growing season.  At 5.2 million tonnes, the total UK potato crop was the fourth smallest on records going back to the 1960s. (AHDB Potatoes analysis)

However, while retailers and consumers keep a keen eye on rising potato prices, horticultural mail order company, Thompson & Morgan has brought its seed potato prices DOWN for the 2017 season. As an example, the firm cites one of its most popular potato varieties, Lady Christl. Last year, a bag of 60 tubers of this favourite, creamy-fleshed, easy-to-grow variety was selling for £12.99; this year a 4kg bag containing 64-72 tubers is selling for £9.99 – that’s a per tuber drop of 23%!

“I really urge people – gardeners or not – to have a go at growing their own potatoes”, says Colin Randel, Thompson & Morgan’s resident potato expert. “Not only does it look likely that potato prices will go up in the shops, but you know what you’re eating when you grow your own. There’s no need to worry about the pesticides, the food miles, the months spent piled up in storage – you just dig up tasty, wholesome spuds from your garden or allotment”.

And you don’t even need a garden or an allotment; you can easily grow potatoes on your patio or balcony. There really is nothing like the satisfaction of tipping a crop of home-grown potatoes out of a handy grow bag just in time for supper.

For Thompson & Morgan’s full range of potatoes, go to http://www.thompson-morgan.com/potatoes-inspiration and for tips on growing potatoes at home, look at T&M’s handy guides  How to grow potatoes in the ground, How to grow potatoes in bags and Potato Selector Guide.

Thousands descend on garden centres for Unwins Sweet Pea seeds

The Unwins Sweet Pea and Emma Bridgewater vase promotion has truly taken off, with over 8,000 claimants hitting the Unwins website in for the first 30 mins alone.

Garden centres stocking the promotion reported shoppers arriving at 9am on March 1 (the day the promotion started) to purchase seeds to allow them to claim a limited edition Emma Bridgewater sweet pea vase. The Emma Bridgewater vases were made bespoke for Unwins to celebrate its new Sweet Pea seed range and so are real collector items.

Due to the unprecedented demand, Westland is looking to extend the campaign and is calling for garden centres to make sure their Unwins Sweet Pea displays are at the front of stores to get maximum exposure over the coming weeks.

Andrew West, Head of Purchasing at Hillier Garden Centre Group, said: “In the first week of the promotion from March 1-7 we saw a 25% uplift in Unwins Sweet Pea unit sales over the previous week, which we can only attribute to the successful advertising of the promotion. One centre had a customer buy 50 packets in one go!”

On social media, shoppers were whipped into a frenzy. One fan said: “Got hubby to go into the garden centre only for him to be told by staff that shelves have been cleared by one woman who spent hundreds of pounds shortly after the store opened!” Another said: “Sweet Peas are my favourite! Will be planting seeds in our new garden when we move house and the bottle will live on my dresser!”

Amy Roberts, Brand Manager for Unwins, said: “The speed and impact of this promotion has been outstanding and clearly shows the effect and impact social media has in driving consumer uptake. Its purpose was to bring Unwins Seeds to a new consumer base and to push our Sweet Pea heritage into the minds of consumers. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve certainly done this.

“In fact, it’s been so successful that we are now looking into ways to extend it over the coming weeks, so there is still time for your centre to take part in the promotion. If you would like to engage in the promotion please contact your Westland Territory Manager.”

The Sensational Sweet Peas range was inspired by the prevalent period drama trend – made popular by the BBC drama Downton Abbey – an era which invoked grandeur, with elegant and romantic show-stopping colour. The collection includes old favourites and brand new varieties, including:

Sweet Pea Little Red Riding Hood – Enchanting blooms of light and deep red, this Sweet Pea has a beautiful heady fragrance and looks great in a cut flower display. Great in a vase!

Sweet Pea Maloy – Delicately-scented light and deep salmon pink. A lovely partner to dark and rich coloured varieties.

Sweet Pea Erewhon – Two-tone mauve-purple variety producing delicately-scented flowers from May to August. Excellent cut flower variety.

UNWINS – With over 100 years of experience, Unwins is famed for its Sweet Pea breeding. William Unwins sold his first Sweet Pea seeds in 1903, which he sold to flower markets in London. He was soon hybridising Sweet Peas and offered large flowered forms in a wide range of colours. By 1914 he had been joined in the business by his son Charles, who went on to become one of the leading Sweet Pea breeders of the 20th Century.

Nutritious knobbly tuber is surprise best-seller!

Oca is a knobbly root vegetable that looks a bit like an artichoke. Don’t worry though; they don’t have the same windy after effect! The tubers have a tangy lemon taste which becomes deliciously nuttier when cooked. The red-skinned variety available from T&M have a crisp pale orange or creamy-coloured flesh – fans of ‘eating raw’ can simply wash and slice their oca tubers into salads or crunch them as a tasty and wholesome snack. Oca becomes more starchy when cooked and can be enjoyed similarly to potatoes – boiled, baked, mashed and fried – whilst the shoots and the attractive shamrock-shaped leaves can be added to salads for a tasty citrusy tang.

 ‘We think that people are buying oca in response to more information being available about it’, commented Paul Hansord, T&M’s commercial director. ‘Oca is easy-to-grow and nutritious and, thanks to some good press recently, it seems to be increasingly appealing to health-conscious gardeners and foodies alike’.

Oca – aka New Zealand yam (it is grown commercially in New Zealand, hence its alternative moniker) – is cultivated extensively in the Andes where it is second only to the potato in terms of the most widely-grown root vegetable.  T&M’s trials showed that the perennial oca plant performed well in the UK climate and did not suffer from blight or any noticeable pests. Oca is known to tolerate poor soils and different climatic conditions, which makes it ideal for any British kitchen garden. Plants are attractive too, so gardeners can also cultivate their oca in containers on the patio or decking area.

The nutritional and health-promoting benefits of oca make it well worth growing. It boasts a wide range of micro and macro nutrients including Vitamin C, iron, zinc, calcium, flavonoids, B vitamins and fibre. It is an excellent source of carbohydrates and phosphorus, as well as essential amino acids that promote the health and proper function of muscles, organs, nails, hair, skin and more. Oca is also notably low in calories.

Oca or New Zealand yam is available from Thompson & Morgan’s website www.thompson-morgan.com/oca . Due to the popularity of this nutritious, knobbly tuber and as T&M is only despatching oca until the end of March, customers are being offered 5 tubers for £4.50 and 10 tubers for £6.50 – half their original price. Gardeners will find full growing details for oca on the T&M website www.thompson-morgan.com/grow-oca

Recipe idea

Rosemary roasted oca: Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Wash and then cut any larger oca into chunks so that they’re all roughly the same size. Toss in just enough olive or sunflower oil to coat and then sprinkle with fresh rosemary leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes for very small ones, 20-25 minutes or so for larger oca. They’re ready when they feel tender when pierced with a knife.

National Pumpkin Sowing Day announced by Thompson & Morgan – 12th April 2017

As sponsors of the UK’s giant pumpkin growing competition each autumn at the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth’s annual event in Southampton, Thompson & Morgan is launching National Pumpkin Sowing Day on April 12th. In response to the many queries that the horticultural mail order giant receives around the time of the giant pumpkin weigh-in, the company has decided to set a date for those wanting to try their hand at growing a record-breaker or for those simply wanting to grow a modest pumpkin for carving at Halloween.

Paul Hansord, T&M’s Commercial Director, himself a keen pumpkin grower, said:

“We get so many enquiries at the giant pumpkin weigh-in and around Halloween when people are seeing pumpkins in the shops, asking how to grow them at home. So we’ve decided to set April 12th as National Pumpkin Sowing Day 2017. If people can buy their seeds and get ready to sow them on this date, we’ll support them with growing tips and hope that someone out there might grow a pumpkin to rival last year’s winner”.

The heaviest pumpkin at last year’s event weighed in at 2,252.3lb and was grown by Ian and Stuart Paton who have broken the UK record an incredible 7 times. The majority of entries to the 2016 official weigh-in at the Southampton pumpkin event were grown from seeds that came from giant pumpkins grown by the Patons. Seeds from the Paton twins’ 2016 record-breaking giant pumpkin are available from T&M – 2 seeds of ‘Paton Twins Giant’  retail at £9.99.

2016 Paton Brothers pumpkin

RHS Hyde Hall’s Matt Oliver won the award in 2016 for the largest outdoor-grown pumpkin with a seed purchased for £1,250 by Thompson & Morgan. His pumpkin weighed in at an astounding 1,333.8lb (95 stone or 605kg) and the seeds from this aptly named ‘Matt’s Monster’ can be purchased from Thompson & Morgan at a cost of £7.99 for 3 seeds.

“The seeds from ‘Matt’s Monster’ and ‘Paton Twins Giant’ might seem a little expensive, but they come with a fantastic pedigree”, commented Paul Hansord. “Each seed is packed with giant pumpkin potential”.

Other pumpkin seeds are available from T&M for those who want to grow a modest-sized pumpkin, such as ‘Jack Of All Trades’, for carving at Halloween or for those who simply have a penchant for pumpkin pie or a hearty pumpkin soup.

T&M will be supporting pumpkin growers after they have sown their seeds with information on how to grow giant pumpkins and on growing regular pumpkins for Halloween on its website, as well as with timely posts on social media.

Useful links:

www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-pumpkins

www.thompson-morgan.com/giantpumpkins