Seabrook On ... Meet face-to-face and work together

Our world has become a tiny place when it comes to sending messages.

Buyers in China can text quotations to UK employers and get answers in seconds. People can email, blog, use Twitter, get LinkedIn, write via Facebook, post on YouTube and so on.

While we have all these methods of keeping others informed, in practice communication within our trade becomes steadily less effective. There is nothing to beat face-to-face meetings and, the next best step, telephone conversations.

The look on a face and tone of voice, like a picture, can save a thousand words. Networking at the Garden Media Guild Awards lunch reception brought me bang up to date with numerous happenings in the horticultural world.

I had not known that Renato Canale had spent four weeks in intensive care (I am glad to say now steadily recovering); Rufus Roberts of Suttons had major hip surgery (now very much on the mend); Van Hage in Ware offers ice skating (very successfully on my subsequent visit); Aylett Garden Centre is now mentoring 50 local schools; Dennis Espley was capably juggling responsibilities at Squire's, the Garden Centre Association (GCA) and the RHS; 80,000 whitefly-infected imported poinsettias had been destroyed at supermarket depots; and average purchase value pre Christmas had dropped even where sales were up, to list a few items of interest.

Horticulture used to be a close-knit community, very much a family affair where successes and failures were shared. We all fight the weather and when lightning - or more likely severe frost and fire - strikes, support from colleagues helps survival.

Now more than ever, as our trade consolidates, we need to work together and, through Dennis Espley, we have an excellent chance to see the GCA, HTA and RHS working together to the common good. The problems that Dennis and these organisations face need to be widely disseminated and these pages offer the facility to do so. There is no time today for discussions behind closed doors or for secrets and rumours, which divide the memberships. Our new year resolution should be to cooperate and work together in an effort to get more of the population gardening successfully.

Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster.

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