26 - 27 June 2012, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry
The plants were certainly the stars at the HTA National Plant Show, sponsored by Hortipak, which took place this week at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry. With exhibitor numbers up 25% on the previous year the show provided a superb showcase of plants and all credit to the standard of plant displays which was exceptionally high.
Visitor numbers to the show were on a par with last year which was greatly encouraging given the season and there was a positive and upbeat buzz in the aisles as retailers look ahead to autumn and next year. There were plenty of features to capture their interest including details about promotions for National Conifer Week, Autumn Gardening and Plant of the Month 2013.
Sales in the British Plant Fair’s Marketplace were up 12.6% this year – with total sales over the two days of £52,644. Best sellers included Salvia Hot Lips, Begonias, Buddleia Buzz, Hebe Red Rum and Agapanthus Blue Storm.
HTA Director of Business Development Tim Briercliffe says “Despite a difficult year for the trade it was great to see renewed optimism for the future from both exhibitors and visitors at the HTA National Plant Show. A testimony to the resilience of the sector, the show has highlighted the very best of UK plant production. The volume and quality of the entries in the New Plant Awards show how the UK plant market leads the world.”
The New Plant Awards, sponsored by ProVaR, attracted over 100 entries this year with the Best In Show being awarded to Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ from Tully Nurseries. Visitors to the show voted Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Dark Angel’ from Darby Nursery Stock as the best new plant in the Visitor Vote, sponsored by Floramedia.
The award for Best Plant Display, sponsored by Barclaycard, announced on the second morning of the Show, went to Lovania Nurseries for the second year running. Commendations were also presented to Wyevale Nurseries, Oakgate Nursery and David Austin Roses.
The International Breeders Area enabled visitors to view the latest plant introductions from around the world, as well as the best of the UK plant market with exhibitors from Europe and the USA focusing on new introductions of plants offered to UK growers for finished plant production.
The new Merchandising Area, supported by The Garden Works and Hortipak, translated the plants from the show back into the plantarea and explored ways that plant merchandising can be enhanced to become more appealing and relevant to today’s consumers. The feature included three of the consumer profiles from the HTA Garden Spender Segmentation report, and gave visitors some exciting and imaginative ideas to take away and reproduce in their own plant area to attract each profile. Each profile was brought to life with recipe cards and merchandising themes.
The seminar programme, sponsored by HTA Insurance Services, provided much interest.
Terra Nova Nurseries USA President Dan Heims took his audience on a global tour highlighting unusual and inspired plant displays from his travels around the world. There was a focus on features that maximise natural light, and he encouraged centres to consider where the sun rises and sets when planning displays to make use of where the sunlight falls.
Plant Retail Consultant Jim Teague presented a thought provoking seminar which compared horticulture to the sandwich trade! Masses of sandwiches and plants are produced each year and he demonstrated several similarities between the two. Stock your best products where your customers can’t miss them and consider linked sales in the style of ‘meal deals’ by grouping products that are frequently bought together and creating an offer.
On the second day, Pat FitzGerald of FitzGerald Nurseries spoke on how growers, landscapers and retailers need to work together to ensure that plants meet the new living space requirements of today’s consumer. He highlighted the new trends in garden design such as outdoor living rooms, decking, wall mounted plants, moveable solutions and living walls and said the industry needs to be ready to start experimenting with these new environments.
“Over the past two days, we have taken many orders and enquiries from both new and existing customers. Despite a difficult season, we have experienced nothing but optimism for our new products. The HTA National Plant Show has now established itself as the premier event for British grown products. Looking forward to next year already!
- Neil Alcock, Seiont Nurseries
“Forest Edge has exhibited here at the HTA National Plant Show since its start. We have always been pleased with the way it is organised and nationally promoted. We meet our existing customers here and find new contacts with good positive leads and orders. The show fulfils all our requirements and will remain a regular slot in our calendar as our prime plant exhibition.”
- David Edge, Forest Edge Nurseries
“It was a positive show with a high standard of quality of visitors. There is no other show that has such a high number of decision makers. The quality of plants keeps getting better each year and is a great showcase of the best of the UK market.”
- Steven Lee, New Place Nurseries
The HTA National Plant Show is a “must be at” show. The visitors are of a high calibre and everyone that comes through the door is a customer worth talking to. We will be back next year.”
- Mark Taylor, Kernock Park Plants
“It was a good show, we’ve had great feedback from customers and new enquiries.”
- Lee Ainscough, Armlee Nurseries.