Small centres preferred for specialist tree sales

Cherry Tree Arboretum owner John Ravesncroft has said he prefers to sell to smaller garden centres because they are better at selling his magnolias and unusual trees.

Ravenscroft: 100-plus magnolias in latest catalogue
Ravenscroft: 100-plus magnolias in latest catalogue

There are more than 100 varieties of magnolias in the former Bridgemere Nurseries owner's latest catalogue, illustrated with pictures of trees growing on the arboretum near Crewe. Ravenscroft sells to garden centres and magnolia whips via Frank P Matthews.

"It only works if people are actively selling," he said. "It doesn't work if you stick them down and hope. Smaller garden centres are speaking to their customers and selling. If you believe in what you have got and it enhances people's lives in 10 years' time, you have something remarkable. Say that, and not just 'it is £49'. We like to sell to the little garden centres that sell face-to-face. Fron Goch is a good example."

Ravenscroft said garden centre planteria staff need to "show they love them and they believe in them". He added: "I believe in my magnolias. They are going to make the world a better place - or England anyway. They are not going to do what they call 'selling through'."

He also said he hopes that Brexit does not create division between British and Dutch growers because "we're all hybrids". Trees such as Quercus 'Waasland' are possible leylandii replacements, he pointed out, and he would like to hear of an oak in the UK that has died of sudden oak death.

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