Gardeners' World magazine editor Adam Pasco and retail consultant John Stanley have been critical about complacency among garden centres managers about merchandising and promotion, while many garden centre owners have defended their offering.
North One owner Beryl Henderson said: "We have followed the recent debate about ‘uninspiring’ garden centres and whether to ditch "A to Z" plant displays with interest.
"We agree with Adam Pasco – the majority of garden centres are uninspiring places to visit. We, at North One Garden Centre, feel disappointed when we visit a lot of other garden centres who are stuck in traditional ways of merchandising and displaying stock - plants and otherwise.
Join the debate: Garden centres told to ditch traditional A-Z plant displays
"Garden centres have an interesting, specific and challenging role, being both horticultural specialists and retailers. We need to embrace both these disciplines with an equal amount of passion and hard work in order to inspire customers and, therefore, be successful businesses.
"At North One, our primary aim is to create a life-enhancing garden centre. We constantly remind ourselves that it’s knowledgeable staff, great customer service, plants of excellent quality and inspirational displays that help us to achieve this. Many of our customers are young – about 70% under 35, and know little about gardening, and we see it as part of our job to help educate them. Creating inspirational displays helps more inexperienced gardeners see how to put together plants in terms of colour, texture, height and shape.
"We also believe the coverage in Horticulture Week, and the subsequent comments made on the online forum, miss an important point. The debate should not be about whether garden centres should only have plants in "A to Z" or inspirational displays. If the customer wants it, there should be room for both.
"As a small garden centre in central London, our major challenge is lack of space. If we can achieve inspirational and alphabetical displays in a plant area of around 200 square metres, then other garden centres should be able to do so as well."