Amenity market shows signs of optimism, notes Crowders Nurseries

Crowders Nurseries notes 'a little bit of improved optimism from customers' in the South East but elsewhere it is still 'incredibly tough'.

Olympic work: licence awarded
Olympic work: licence awarded

Crowders Nurseries has noted signs of optimism in the amenity supply market on the back of a double boost.

The firm has been awarded a supplier recognition licence for London 2012 and seen the Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust commit to British-grown stock post-ash dieback.

The Olympic licence gives Crowders the right to use the phrase "Supplier of trees and shrubs (Olympic Park & Olympic Village) to the London 2012 Games".

Crowders supplied Willerby Landscapes, Frosts Landscape Construction, Gavin Jones, Skidmores, Kings Landscapes and the Landscape Group ahead of the games and continues to supply the transformation.

Owner Robert Crowder said: "There's no greater badge of recognition to have been involved in the most prestigious landscaping projects for generations. Our main business is supplying to landscapers and we are seeing a little bit of improved optimism from customers."

He said this was mainly in the South East, with the "rest finding it incredibly tough" and middle-income private clients also still "incredibly cautious". But he added: "Commercial housebuilders in the South East are busy. There's lots of projects on and some big schemes and one or two commercial property builders are putting their heads above the parapet.

"We are contract growing 54,000 plants, mostly trees and hedging plants in fiveto 15-litre pots."

Crowder explained that marketing director Simon Ellis left "because he wanted less pressure and to get back to basics in horticulture".

He said ash dieback meant the ash market was "gone" and he hopes that "won't affect confidence in tree planting generally and people will substitute other species for ash".

Crowder said ash dieback prompted the Forestry Commission to change how it orders trees to avoid importing pests. "If they can manage the process they can benefit UK tree growers."

Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust update order process

"Apart form cell-grown broadleaf trees, the Forestry Commission attempts to source its trees from its own nurseries. When we estimate a shortfall, we approach suppliers on our framework contract with provisional figures in July that we expect to order in October. Previously orders were placed in October without advance notice so suppliers now have a longer lead time to source stock. We now insist that suppliers are able to show a life history of country origins for all stages along the supply chain. This means we can make evidence-based choices on whether to accept imported trees to reduce pest and disease risks."

Forestry Commission

"For 2014-15 we will ensure all trees are UK-sourced and grown. From November 2014 we'll source from a UK seed supplier and distribute to selected nurseries to grow on in January-April 2015."

Woodland Trust

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