Florafest shows off new Newey selection

There is positivity in the industry, despite political pressures, and there are plenty of new plants to get excited about says the UK's biggest ornamental grower.

Pelargonium Zonale 'Big Ezee Pink' AGM - image: HW
Pelargonium Zonale 'Big Ezee Pink' AGM - image: HW

Young Plants general manager Kersten Catella said the speckled petunia in the Constellation series, was a top pick among visitors along with the striped Sweetunia Miss Marvellous. Bidens is a growth areas in bicolors and white with examples including 'White Delight' and there is a push on perennials with a new seed-raised offer. Danziger-bred coreopsis such as Highland Blast are also being promoted.

RHS AGM plants were on display after 2017 trials with award winner Pelargonium 'Big Ezee Pink' as well as 'Brocade Fire Night' on display. The RHS is trialling calibrachoa in 2018. There were new cutting-raised begonias on display such as 'I'Conioa Miss Malibu' with three plants filling a 25 litre pot. Coleus is also a focus at the moment.

Catella said growing more pot bedding than pack bedding is the swing, and that despite the strong 2016 season, there is unlikely to be more plants grown overall.

She added the industry is being responsible over GMO orange petunias and "testing everything" and removing it from sale, although some 2018 catalogues were printed to early to remove suspect plants.

Compensation was coming from Dummen as it was difficult at the send of the season to replace plants, she said. Catella said the issue affects less than 5% of all petunias, though that is likely to be more in Holland where the national colour is orange.

A standard audit for checking the supply chain could be issued by BOPP, LEAF or NPS GAP, she suggested.

On labour, while there are issues caused by Brexit in attracting East European seasonal staff, Catella said provider Pro-Force has not let the group down but there is "obviously a problem" finding labour and some workers are not seeing their terms out because the rewards are not there. This is disappointing "because we normally rely on returnees and labour to stay out the season", she said. It is an issue across many industries and a top lobbying topic, she added.

Catella made the point that even with increased mechanisation replacing workers, often maintenance and installation workers come from overseas.

As BPOA vice chairman, Catella said the review of the organisation would conclude in October when changes will be revealed at a BPOA conference at the NFU in Stoneleigh. These are around what the BPOA does and how it is valued. The conference will also cover issues such as Brexit, neonics, glyphosate and GMO. BPOA will keep its HomeGrown badge.

Catella said there was a grey area around what constitutes home grown because much mother stock is from overseas. She said if we shut our borders that cuts a huge amount of selection. TV presenter Monty Don has said supermarket plant selection is boring and Catella said closing borders would cut choice further.

Newey will grow 250,000 poinsettias, planted in week 28. This is the same as in 2016.

The Newey group includes Young Plants, Roundstone, Eagle Plants, New Forest Plants, New Place Nurseries, Avoncross Ornamentals. A new addition could be announced soon.

 All images: HW

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