The GAN Trade Show could be even more important this winter than in previous years because the 15-year-old Dorset-based event, held this year on 10 February, will follow the UK's coldest spell since 1981, which has led to a late start to the season.
The sell-out show features more than 200 stands. Show director Simon Edwards says: "GAN's positioning so early in the year and its growing importance is winning repeat exhibitors."
Exhibitors' responses to the 2009 show demonstrate its appeal — 96% were there to generate new business, 94% said it enhanced their business, while 69% exhibited to highlight a new product or service. More than 90% said the visitor profile suited them "well" or "very well".
West Sussex-based Prenplants owner Will George says spirits are usually quite high at GAN, "as are expectations". Prenplants will be exhibiting a limited range of herbaceous plants.
Another trade show, Southern Growers, relocated to Roundstone Nurseries from Sandown last year, closer to GAN, but George says new attendees at that revamped show may be encouraged to visit GAN if they have not been for a while "to refresh their memories".
Rhododendron grower Shelley Common Nursery owner John Middleton says an order from one customer alone meant that GAN 2009 was worthwhile. "I'll be back this year, even if it is just to remind people that I'm still around."
New Forest Garden Plants owner Matthew Dixon says GAN, where he will show herbs, alpines and herbaceous plants, is a "good kick-off to season". He has been exhibiting at the show from the start and likes its localness, cheapness and easiness. He adds: "GAN seems to be attracting more and more people from farther afield."
Lothian-based Pentland Plants owner David Spray says: "I've always liked GAN. You can feel the mood of the industry." He will show new German-bred Pansy varieties in unusual colours, such as stonewash, from Vale Royal in Cheshire.
John Woods marketing manager Jo Davey will show three first editions — Coprosma Pacific Sunset, a new sport found on John Woods' nursery; Alyogyne Magic Moments, an Australian hybrid raised by Graham Hutchins of County Park Nursery; and Azalea Maruschka — as well as rhododendrons Graziella and Goldfinger, new additions to the Waterers range of ericaceous plants.
Sholtsgate Nursery owner Jackie Sturgess hopes to exhibit on stand 103 alongside haulier David Anderson, who will have catalogues from some of the growers who use the Trolleynet specialist plant delivery service.
Venue Golden Acres Nursery, 397 Christchurch Road, West Parley, Ferndown, Dorset BH22 8SJ.
Subscribe to Horticulture Week for more news, more in-depth features and more technical and market info.