APL advises design and retail experts to join forces

Garden designers and garden centres should work more closely together, according to the new chairman of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL).

Mark Gregory said: "Nurseries and landscapers work well together, but that has never been the case with garden centres. We don't have that link with retail. Yet we could offer specialist help to garden centres and their customers."

Gregory, who took over from Adam Frost last week, said he wanted to use digital technology to try and improve business and horticultural skills. He suggested short video blogs focusing on particular plants and growing conditions.

He said social networking and forums would become more relevant professionally, adding that members had to share knowledge via the digital age because "I don't want this to be an association that people come to only when it all goes wrong".

He added: "I want to see a thriving network of mentoring from senior people who have been there, done that, made the mistakes and come through. I want the association to be a lot more responsive to the members."

Trading was tough, he explained, but the recession could have positive spin-offs. "The upside for someone who's professional but going through pain is that there will be a lot of mediocrity that falls off, so when we come out of this - which we will - there will be richer pickings. Sometimes a recession is good for the industry. It culls a lot of dead wood."

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