Reader Panel - What are your plans for the year and how is the season shaping up?

HW asked exhibitors at the recent RHS plant show in London what their plans were for the year and how the season had gone so far.

Common themes were exhibition opportunities and strong fruit and vegetable sales.

NURSERY OWNER

"We're getting ready for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We're supplying four gardens, including Sarah Eberle's garden, Fleming's garden and our own display, sponsored by Westland.

"We use Westland's compost and it is fabulous stuff. We've had fewer losses this year then ever before because of the quality of it.

"Our display is three-quarters the size of a show garden at 144sq m. It's our largest ever and we're growing 3,000 plants for it."

Rob Hardy, owner, Hardy Cottage Garden Plants

GROWER

"Mail order sales are well up. We're getting more established, so have sent out more catalogues this year.

"We've also added half-a-dozen more shows to our schedule to make it 36 this year. I won't be home much.

"We have an increased range, with several plants in production. We've picked up a lot of business and we're still working hard with Marks & Spencer, supplying blooms. The company is sponsoring us at Chelsea, which we're pleased about."

Martyn Flint, sales manager, Chrysanthemums Direct

NURSERY OWNER

"It has been busy this year so far with vegetable and potato sales. We'll be doing all the big shows in 2011.

"At Chelsea and Gardeners' World, we'll be trying to link growing veg with what you can do in the kitchen.

"At Cardiff, it will be about fruit. Fruit is definitely going through a revival. Not just traditional varieties - people are wanting to try different things like wineberries, edible honeysuckle and loganberries."

Chris Smith, owner, Pennard Plants

NURSERY OWNER

"It's going to be a stormy year. Easter is late and Harrogate is before Easter so it could be difficult to get the public motivated.

"Getting people to spend is going to be a hard job this year. I'm concentrating on building up local business, but I'm doing Harrogate, Gardeners' World and Hampton Court.

"We're also relaunching our virtual flower show website and launching a 48-page handbook on making sales at shows."

Kelvin Harbutt, owner, Rougham Hall Nurseries.


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