There was a buoyant atmosphere and vibrant mood at last week?s HTA National Plant Show at Stoneleigh Park, sponsored by Hortipak. The event saw a hall packed full of plants from over 130 UK companies (over 175 stands) showcasing a full range of plants from alpines and bedding through to roses and trees.
HTA Director General Carol Paris comments, ?We are delighted that both visitors and exhibitors alike had a great show ? it truly is a show run by the industry for the industry. It is hugely encouraging that despite the way the season has gone visitors took time out of their businesses to attend. More importantly, from talking to exhibitors, it is evident that the right people from across the plant supply chain came to the show ? those with direct purchasing power that were able to make decisions and place orders on the day.?
This is supported by exhibitors including:
Mark Taylor, Kernock Park Plants
?The quality of the visitors is excellent and there is always plenty of opportunity to spend time with both customers and potential customers. NPS is a ?must do? show for plant producers in the UK.?
David McIntyre, James McIntyre and Sons Nurseries, Scotland
?This is a top show for us, with all the big buyers and a big industry profile, you need to be here!?
John Lord, John Woods Nurseries
?An excellent, incredibly busy and very useful show providing a lot of new leads and business opportunities. We were very pleased with the number of visitors; we had a story to tell and have been able to tell it to a lot of people. Over all it?s been a remarkable show, smoothly run, well organised and planned.?
Chris Ramsden, Suttons Seeds
?This was our first year at the show and we?ll definitely come next year too. The people we expected to see were here and both days have been really good, bringing in leads from both existing and new customers. A wonderful show.?
The British Plant Fair?s Marketplace, sponsored by Container Centralen, had a strong show and saw over ?30,000 of sales made over the two days.
As ever there was much interest in the New Plant Awards, sponsored by the RHS, and this year there were over 90 entries across the five categories providing a showcase for the best in new plant introductions from UK plant suppliers. Clematis ?Beautiful Bride? from New Leaf Plants took the crown of best in show and best in category for Hardy Nursery Stock. A free flowering variety, Clematis ?Beautiful Bride? produces an amazing display of large pure white flowers and really provides a wow factor. This combined with its fantastic name means that the plant is sure to have wide appeal.
The other category winners were:
Best Annual – Verbena hybrida ?Lanai Twister Pink? ? Syngenta FloriPro Services
Best in Breeder Innovation – Pear (Pyrus) ?Benita Rafzas?? – Frank P Matthews Ltd
Best Herbaceous Perennial – Penstemon ?Riding Hood Blue?- Fairweather?s Nursery
Best Houseplant – Begonia elatior ?Glory Lemon? ? Beekenkamp Plants
It was a double celebration for Clematis ?Beautiful Bride? which also won best in show in the visitor vote, sponsored by Floramedia, which attracted a record number of votes this year. Category winners were:
Best Annual ? Petunia ?Sweetunia Johnny Flame? ? Young Plants
Best Breeder Innovation ? Pear ?Benita Rafzas? ? Frank P Matthews
Best Hardy Nursery Stock ? Physocarpus ?Amber Jubilee? ? John Woods Nurseries
Best Herbaceous Perennial ? Penstemon ?Riding Hood Blue? ? Fairweather?s Nursery
Best Houseplant ? Phalaenopsis ?Wildcat? ? Javado UK
All exhibitors put a lot of effort into displaying their plants in an interesting and innovative way and the quality of stands was extremely high. The award for Best Plant Display, sponsored by HTA News, went to Parker?s Nurseries for their innovative display of plants and takeaway ideas for garden retailers. Commendations were also presented to John Woods Nurseries, Lovania Nurseries and Pentland Plants.
The seminar area, sponsored by Barclaycard, hosted three diverse talks which were all well attended and provided plenty of talking points. Kew trained botanist, BBC science presenter and obsessive foodie grower James Wong?kicked off the seminar programme at HTA National Plant Show with his impassioned talk, sponsored by Suttons, highlighting his thoughts on how to inspire a younger audience to get excited about gardening. It?s not about ?making gardening cool? ? because it already is!? He urged garden retailers not to take themselves too seriously and experiment with playful, cheeky, unusual ideas as sometimes these are the things that create a hook to draw people in and want to know more.?He encouraged retailers to embrace experimentation and spark curiosity by creating theatre and excitement in store to inspire customers.
Michael Marriott, Technical Manager of David Austin Roses gave a fascinating insight into the versatility of roses and how David Austin has built itself into one of the most well-known global brands.?He highlighted and encouraged retailers to try both informal and formal styles of planting to ensure roses are looking their best.?English roses are great mixers and when planted with other blooms?create a fantastic effect. He emphasised the importance of having attractive displays and good photography in store and to make?sure staff fully trained in how versatile they are and able to advise how easy they are to look after.
Gardening consultant and journalist Adam Pasco called for the industry to make more noise in order to keep gardening on the agenda and encouraged garden retailers to stand out from the crowd in an increasingly complex marketplace.? ?We are no longer a nation of gardeners but more of a nation of people who love gardens ? we like the result but not always the hard work that it takes to achieve it?, he said. He acknowledged the way in which the weather is playing a bigger role in the way that we garden with the seasons becoming much more blurred making it difficult to know what to sell to consumers at what time.
New for 2013 was a Learning Zone at the show which brought together colleges including Hadlow College, Myerscough College and Pershore & Hindip College. The zone provided a great opportunity for exhibitors and visitors to engage with key colleges and the HTA Careers and Training team on the important issues surrounding careers, skills and learning and development.
The HTA would like to thank all its sponsors and supporters for helping to make the show a great success.
Next year the show will take place on 24-25 June 2014.
For further information about the HTA National Plant Show please visit www.nationalplantshow.co.uk.