What are your predictions and hopes for the year ahead?

HW asked industry figures about the prospects for their sectors in 2009.

"The new Institute of Horticulture slogan is 'Uniting a Growing Profession', which I think is superb. The industry has decided it wants an independent professional institute and we should get on with making that happen.

"My second hope is that horticulture becomes the most popular career for 16- to 18-year-olds.

"Horticulture has added value for society, education and the environment. We've got to get people to realise horticulture's positive added value to life, whether it's a visit to the park or eating vegetables you've grown yourself."

- Steve Dowbiggin, chief executive, Capel Manor College

"Good weather is my hope, and then we'll be absolutely fine.

"Grow-your-own will be more important than ever. And I think people have to stick with what they're good at and then we'll be successful in the retail trade.

"This Christmas, so far I've been very pleased with sales, with the most expensive Christmas trees selling out first. Because Christmas is on a Thursday, the last Saturday and Sunday will be good and we didn't have that last year.

"I'm very happy with where we are now, especially when I keep reading the bad news."

- Caroline Owen, chairman, HTA retail committee

"It's going to be a challenging year for the retail sector and for suppliers.

"It's going to come down to the weather, as always. We'll have a reasonable season if the weather's good.

"But we'll have some problems if the weather is good because retailers won't have stocked up. Because of cash-flow issues it is difficult for suppliers to sit on stock, so if we have a monster season retailers could miss out.

"Retailers with stocks left over from last year should take the opportunity to raise prices on products such as barbecues by 16-25%."

- Neil Gow, director, Garden Industry Manufacturers' Association

"(The recession) could mean a quantum shift in they way that people spend their time.

"They will be worried about redundancy, won't be moving house and won't going abroad as much.

"People will hark back to the way things were in the 1950s, when cooking and gardening - both for food and for beauty - were hugely popular."

- Angela Halksworth, director, Tendercare

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