This year's return to better gardening weather has meant that confidence is up among the growers exhibiting at the Four Oaks Trade Show on 2-3 September.
Following two wet years, good weather this spring and summer has led to strong sales and healthier forward orders, even though the knock-on effects of two bad springs meant that 2014 has not been entirely without its challenges.
"Fortunately, this has been a much better trading season," said Earley Ornamentals product manager Keith Gittens. "We've had plenty of sun but also plenty of rain - it's a more favourable gardening season because people are getting out there and buying plants."
Many growers are optimistic about 2015, such as Farplants group business development manager Mike O'Conner, who predicted that the coming year will be a good one. "The weather has been better than previous years, the season is steady and forward orders are very strong," he said.
Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen added: "The weather has been great. We had a tremendous May and June, and the season is averaging out well".
Four Oaks event director Pat Coutts said the show is set to be a full house, with exhibitors having enjoyed a good year as a result of the weather. "The weather is the most crucial thing, more than any other economic factor," she pointed out.
She added that there are a lot of new exhibitors from Europe at the show this year, such as four new Italian growers taking the total to 17 from that country.
"The Europeans are making hay while the sun shines in the UK, while the exchange rate is in their favour," said Coutts.
Whetman Pinks managing director Carolyn Bourne was one grower pointing out this year's difficulties. "Big backlogs of material that couldn't be shifted by the big DIY chains have rattled down the chain," she said.
However, she added that the outlook is good for the dianthus grower and all its orders are now in place. "We are lean, fit, fighting and cracking on," she said.
Four Oaks preview
For full details of this year's Four Oaks Trade Show - including new plant launches, product developments and more - see our 17-page preview starting on p27 of this issue.
- Introduction p27
- New plant launches p29-34
- Product developments p38-41
- Exhibitor listings p43-44.