The GAN Trade Show is the traditional curtain-raiser for the horticulture season as well as a long-standing meeting place for growers from the south coast and beyond.
This year, the awards entry numbers for new products are especially healthy and 147 exhibitors are set to show. The event will be held on 9 February at Golden Acres Nursery near Bournemouth International Airport in Dorset and is expected to sell out.
GAN marketing manager Judi Watkins says: "People are still looking into developing new products, which is a really positive thing. We have a handful of stands left but they always sell out at the last minute.
"We've improved the website from last year and all details about new products and more information are on the website for visitors to see. That's not something we've done before."
Long-standing exhibitor Blue Ribbon Plants sales manager Philip Sanders sums up the feeling: "GAN is our baby. It's the one that old friends come along to. It's been really good to us."
He adds that the HTA National Plant Show is now an essential part of the calendar but GAN always starts the season well for the business. "We're very positive for 2011," he says.
"It has started very poorly because of the weather but as far as we're concerned there's a positive climate and for the first time we have a lot of pre-orders. It's always been 'free stock' before with people ringing and asking what you've got."
Sanders puts the change down to the demise of Kinglea Plants in 2010, with growers such as Blue Ribbon picking up business in hanging basket lines from larger groups and independent garden centres. He says that pre-ordering has given the company "a lot of safety for 2011".
First-time exhibitors include nursery equipment suppliers Alto Handling (forklifts), Electronic & Technical Services (electronic irrigation controls), Ellegaard (pots and machines), McGregor Polytunnels and HBS Design; nurseries Worfield Gardens, Guido Steenhuyse, Howard Nurseries and HSK Gardening & Leisure; services companies 3663 (food services), PMUK (personalised merchandise) and QV Services (garden centre e-marketing); gardening products wholesaler APAC Packaging and outdoor heating products supplier La Hacienda.
Tree fern and Wollemi pine importer HSK owner Phil Blackledge says: "GAN is a good show to kick the season off. It's the first show in the UK at the beginning of the season and might work well for us. We hope to see existing customers and new ones from nurseries, garden centres and wholesalers." He says tree fern feed was a popular line and Wollemi pine sales continued to grow year on year.
Shropshire-based Worfield Gardens Nursery senior sales executive John Clifton says GAN's good reputation prompted Worfield to make its debut there this year: "We've heard good reports about it and we'll be showing the full range of nursery stock - grasses, shrubs, heathers and alpines."
Worfield also exhibits at the HTA National Plant Show, Four Oaks and South West Regional Growers. Clifton says he hopes to attract new garden centre customers and to extend the company's season by getting into the landscape market.
HBS Design is a new company launching at GAN. It is run by Dave Warnett, who was the managing director of HOK Engineering. Warnett's new business will renovate garden centre businesses and glasshouses.
Howard Nurseries visited GAN 2010, liked the atmosphere of the show and recognised that it fitted well with the timing of its bare-root season.
Display company VKF Renzel UK will show its range of display products, including signage, carrier bags, display racks, point-of-sale material, displays and shopfittings. Vivid Arts will exhibit garden statues.
Forklift truck supplier Alto Handling will offer finance packages for longand short-term hire, planned maintenance schedules, field service, emergency repairs, manufacture of approved parts, licensed driver training and refurbishment of equipment.
GAN show director Simon Edwards says: "Each year we steadily expand with new exhibitors who bring an added dimension to the show. As regional trade shows go, GAN has an amazing spread of innovative products and services to interest any horticultural company that wants to keep abreast of what's new."
New launches include Kernock Park Plants Iberis 'Absolutely Amethyst'. Managing director Bruce Harnett says traditional white iberis such as 'Snowflake' and 'Snowball' have been the mainstay of both the alpine and perennial market for a long time. Breakthrough breeding has created a robust, hardy, perennial iberis in a completely novel colour.
He adds: "The traditional white iberis have always been an important part of our early-flowering alpine collection. The addition of this novel new colour will really strengthen the range."
Syngenta FloriPro Services will launch new pansy, viola and primula varieties, including new additions to the Viola cornuta Deltini F1 series, with some new colour additions such as the Deltini HoneyBee.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company will show its new RoseClear Ultra, a systemic insecticide and fungicide for the combined control of pests and diseases on roses and other ornamental plants.
Ornamental and vegetable seed supplier Moles Seeds has added aubergine Pinstripe and tomato Ambrosia to its vegetable range, while ornamental introductions include the trailing Petunia 'Spangles Pink Vein' and 'Viola Floral Power Purple Tiger Eye'.
Specialist insurance brokers Farm and General has launched an Environmental Liability policy to protect against new regulations for preventing and dealing with environmental damage.
House Plants Direct will launch its 2011 range, including new Mothers Day plants and a new category of air plants in its range of Sand Art plants.
Mail order seed and plant company Thompson & Morgan has doubled its young plant range this year to 350 varieties. It will show its new patio vegetable seeds and young plant range as well as launch new varieties from its own breeding, plus a new range of hardy primrose.
Plantopia will show its new Easyfit Christmas tree stand that keeps Christmas trees looking fresh throughout the season by only feeding the bark and not causing stagnant water.
Growth Technology will introduce Houseplant Myst, following the success of its Orchid Myst product. Ready-to-use nutrient solution Orchid Myst was named the UK's most successful new product at the 2010 Garden Retail Awards. Edwards concludes: "Visitors will have plenty of new products to investigate."
Where: Golden Acres Nursery, 397 Christchurch Road, West Parley, Ferndown, Dorset BH22 8SJ
When: 9 February, 10am-4pm
Entry: Free for visitors
New products lining up for GAN awards
Entries for New Plant Variety include:
- Ball Colegrave's Petunia 'Black Velvet'
- the world's first ever black petunia.
- Kernock Park Plants' newly-bred hardy perennial iberis in pink.
- Seiont Nurseries' Ugni moliniae 'Butterball' with apricot spring growth and edible berries.
- Botany Bay Nurseries jumbo plugs.
- Forest Edge Nurseries Erica carnea 'Claribelle', a low growing, spreading heather with pink flowers and sea-green foliage.
Entries for Best Technical Product or Service include:
- Institute of Horticulture's free mentoring service for horticulturists.
- Martin Lishman's range of self-propelled pedestrian sprayers.
- Melcourt Industries' Sylvamix range of professional peat-free growing media.
- Fargro's MET52 microbial pest control for black vine weevil.
- Agralan's native British bumblebees for outdoor pollination.
- Electronic & Technical Services' Evaposensor and Interface for mist and irrigation control.
Entries for Best New Retail Product include:
- Plantopia's 'Easyfit' Christmas tree stand.
- Vital Earth's plant food Vitalizer, made from recycled green waste.
- William Sinclair Horticulture's SuperFyba growing medium.
- Agralan's Granomax 5 fertiliser applicator.
- Scotts Miracle-Gro's Rose Ultra Clear.
- Growth Technology's Houseplant Myst.