Ruxley Rose contest rethink

Fewer garden centres entering autumn planteria award leads to rose competition rethink.

Cowell’s: award winner in 2014
Cowell’s: award winner in 2014

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) Ruxley Rose competition is relaunching because the number of garden centres entering the best autumn planteria awards has dropped.

GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said the association has "struggled with the number of centres entering".

For 2015, the planteria competition will cease and the spring bedding and hardy nursery stock inspection top 10 scoring garden centres will be judged in autumn. There will be no entry fee and winners will be announced at the GCA spring conference in January 2016.

Association chairman Will Armitage said: "It was up to individual garden centres to want to enter and we've found over the years garden centres have wanted to enter later and later.

"We understand we are plant-orientated and plant displays need to look good all year round, but people haven't been entering because of the timing of the Ruxley Rose judging, which is when people are putting up their Christmas displays in September and October."

GCA judge Roger Crookes added: "The planteria is the thing that makes you unique. People recall plants in their recall of your centre. People will judge you by your planteria." He pointed out that centres need to balance the financial risks and "sense of authority" in the planteria.

Crookes said he is seeing 20-25 per cent stock reductions in autumn, despite October 2014 plant sales being up by 14.5 per cent.

Ruxley Rose 2014 winners were Cowell's Garden Centre and Bents Garden & Home. The runners-up were Coolings, Perrywood, Newbridge and St Peters.

Planterias: Good-practice tips for autumn

Autumn planteria good-practice tips as suggested by Garden Centre Association inspector Roger Crookes:

- Living labels.

- Colour-themed merchandising and blocking.

- Plant-of-the-month displays.

- Celebrations of skimmias.

- Reduction of stocks but increased seasonal impact.

- A focus on container-grown.

- Promotion of plant combinations as well as companion planting.

- Multibuys in hot spots.

- Using signage to convey expertise.

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