Osteospermum Serenity Blue-Eyed Beauty had won most visitor choice blue flags as the showcase came to an end. The flower is lemon with a purple eye.
Kabloom is a new seed-raised F1 hybrid calibrachoa that comes in five colours with "great vigour" and natural branching so it does not need to be pinched. Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen said, being seed-raised, it is cheaper and gives growers lots of flexibility for production.
Verbena EnduraScape, which is hardy to -10 degsC and can be grown at 0 degsC, is ideal for landscapers, said Lowen. Petunia Fanfare from David Kerley has a new colour - Sky Blue. Begonia Truffle is a new series of cream and peaches while Begonia Starshine is the first seed-raised Boliviensis, now in four colours and a mix.
Ball is promoting Brix sweetness measures of tomatoes, with Santonio and Floridity as new introductions.
The company, based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, exhibited nine themed patio mini-gardens celebrating colour to inspire retailers and growers, based on the HTA's customer segmentation.
Walleriana-type impatiens are far from a return to the market following issues with downy mildew, but Lowen said small batches always sell immediately.
He pointed out that some councils were late ordering spring bedding this year (see p12) because they were restricted by budgeting, which may mean polyanthus and primroses become unavailable to them.
Sales have been a little above average but the best thing about the year was that there had been less wastage compared to the previous two years, said Lowen. He added that colour block retailing could be the way forward rather than A-Z, as well as retailing by plants for different uses, such as dry or shade lovers.
Visitor views - Growers share their thoughts on the 2014 season
Peter Titmuss, a partner at Grower Award-winner Barnsfold Nurseries, said: "We can't complain. We'll take a season like this every year."
He added that pot and container products are selling, while pack bedding is slowly declining. Bigger pot products are the way forward, he said.
Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen said: "The bigger the pot, the more the customer can visualise how the plant is going to look. It's more the finished article."
Kirton Farm Plants owner Derek Taylor said he sold out of plants after gaining new contracts with the National Trust and Notcutts.
Woodlark sales director Steve Knibb said March and April were "great" while May and June were "alright". Alton director Andy Bunker said he would be 10 per cent up on 2013. Kernock Park Plants marketing manager Mark Taylor said it has been an average year.