There is no doubt we have a nursery stock industry to be proud of and the Stoneleigh activities quite rightly shine the spotlight on it. There are so many people to meet and so much useful information to be gained.
The star plant for me was Betula ‘Fastigiata Joe’s’, surely a plant made for today’s small gardens. We should be able to sell them by the tens of thousands. I was interested to learn from the Paton brothers at Pinetops Nurseries that they are breeding for, among other things, leaf quality. Unlike the American market, where lilies are sold in full flower and a very short shelf life, here we sell in the green for a longer life so a robust leaf showing is essential for the UK retailer.
The National Plant Show is a good place to propagate ideas — for example, Florist putting forward the idea of Gerbera ‘Sweet Memories’ as a Mothering Sunday line and discussing with Michael Smith the potential for ‘Micro Sunrise’ mini gerberas as a line for children.
We may be missing a trick by not uplifting some of the National Plant Show specimens and transporting them immediately down to the Grow London show. Called "the contemporary garden show", it is like moving into another world where money is no object and putting a 9cm ivy into a white paper pot and hanging it upside down trebles the price.
Even so, there are innovations to be seen here, and the wealthy customers want instant and are prepared to pay for it. I could see them snapping up Channel Island Plants’ super baskets and patio pots and being customers for Tendercare Nurseries £300 trellis-trained Trachaelospermum, Darby Nursery Stock patio obelisk, £40 three-cultivar clematis and in-fruit raspberries in 12-litre pots.
Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster