Seabrook calls for high quality plant drive at Four Oaks

Garden centres need to try to extend the season and put more effort into selling high quality plants, gardening writer Peter Seabrook has said.

Seabrook told visitors to the Four Oaks trade show yesterday that this year was the worst for 60 years and the industry had to use every opportunity to sell plants.

"We need to introduce the skill of selling, and not be afraid to sell at the right price," he said. "The lesson to take from this year is that when things were tough, good quality, high price stuff has sold and poor quality cheap stuff has not."

He recommended a number of plants which could help extend the season, such as the Gerbera Garvinea and Farmen's hardy petunia series, which can both be planted in April.

He also singled out Whetman Pinks' Dianthus 'Memories' for its strong scent, and predicted strong sales of hydrangeas because the weather has led to them looking good this year.

"Something like Wallflower 'Sugar Rush' has enormous potential, but I've seen it on display just in with the other plants, with nobody explaining the story," he said.

"We need to tell these stories. People need to see plants are a bit different and the best way to show it's different is to put a pound or two on the price. Nobody knows the value of a plant, and we need to give people value for money."

He said garden centres should use coffee shops as a plant selling opportunity. "People come into garden centres to buy coffee, and it worries me that we don't use that to sell plants.

"Why don't we use all these people coming to buy tea and coffee and tempt them with plants on the tables, or parsley by the till.

"Everyone going to the till is a potential parsley buyer - we all eat. And if we've got people coming into the coffee shops every day of the year we should have plants to sell to them."

He added: "Plant buyers always look for something new, which worries me. I'm interested in good plants and I don't lose enthusiasm for a good plant."  

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