Amenity plant show GrootGroen is revived by growers

A major Dutch amenity plant show has returned after a group of growers gave it a lifeline.

When GrootGroen's previous organiser went bust last year, it appeared to be the end for the show. But a group of five growers in the Zundert area of the southern Netherlands successfully revived the event under the name GrootGroenPlus, which took place from 30 September to 2 October.

Rather than returning to its former municipal site, the show was held at Boot & Co nursery. Boot general director and GrootGroenPlus treasurer Jan de Vries said: "We aimed for 150 participants, and had nearly 300. We are not-for-profit, and the EUR10,000 to EUR20,000 (£9,200 to £18,500) we make will fund the show next year."

President of the show's trade board Joost van Iersel said: "We don't want it to grow too much. We focus on the amenity side, while Plantarium is aimed more at the garden centre market."

A "congress" on the theme of sustainability, concurrent with the show, was designed to enhance its appeal to landscape and amenity visitors, van Iersel said. But de Vries added that sustainability will increasingly impact on growers too.

"The Dutch government will aim to source 100 per cent sustainable products by next year. For us, that means being Milieukeur [Environment Care] certified."

Two UK nurseries were among the overwhelmingly Dutch and Belgian exhibitors at this year's show.

Oakover Nurseries representative John Wood said: "We can't compete on finished plants but we can offer bareroot stock including some unusual lines.

"The timing is good for us as it's just before we begin lifting the trees, so it's good to get our name in front of people. We made contact with customers at Plantarium 20 years ago that we still have."

Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson was on a solo mission in the Netherlands to promote the Yorkshire nursery. "You meet as many people from Britain at shows like this as you do locals — and they're serious buyers, whereas at Glee you're just one of a mass," he said. "But we have built up a contact list of around 600 Continental customers too."

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