Open opportunities for dynamic players

"There's no point going into 2011 under a cloud," director of arboriculture contractor Tree Care Russell Coombs tells us in our preview of what's in store for horticulture this year..

(see Horticulture Industry Preview - 2011)

"Contractors will have to be more dynamic in what they do and fixed ideas will be out. This year, more than ever, will be a time when you must change with these difficult times."

While he was talking specifically about the arboriculture sector, Coombs' words can be applied just as well to all horticulture professionals, organisations and businesses impacted by public spending cuts and concerns over consumer confidence this year. A willingness to forge new relationships, to find new and better ways of doing things, to work in partnership and to adapt to new market conditions will be among the qualifications for success in what will be a very challenging year for many.

On our part, throughout 2011 we will continue to do all we can to share the lessons learned in difficult times by industry players - in this issue take a look at how some of the stars of December's BALI National Landscape Awards have coped and managed their businesses during the economic downturn (see here).

Elsewhere in horticulture, there is rightly considerable optimism - not least within the garden industry, which is looking forward to an extra kick to the start of the season from the promised royal bank holiday in April. Ornamental nurseries and garden retailers are already benefiting from the "staycation" boom - a phenomenon that looks set to continue in times of economic uncertainty.

Higher input costs will affect all in our industry during 2011 while many, including those heading off to next week's BTME exhibition, will be looking to developments in technology to help them increase productivity with tighter staff numbers. But there continue to be opportunities, too. Take landscaping, for instance. As Landscape Institute policy committee member Ian Phillips points out, in our preview, landscape is "relatively low cost" but has a "high impact" - a simple message we need to hammer home to potential clients, whether hard-pressed councils or high-end homeowners thinking more carefully about where they place their spend.

- Kate Lowe, editor. Email:

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