Award: Best Ornamental Plant Introduction — Nursery Stock
Comments: Nigel Judd, commercial director
What are your key goals/priorities as a business for 2020?
Our business is responsible for managing new plant varieties on behalf of smaller independent plant breeders based in the UK. Our priority lies with finding the best licensees worldwide to increase sales on behalf of those breeders.
This year will see a more concerted effort to effect more sales in the USA. We plan to trial and release more new shrubs in the USA via our partner, Concept Plants, and move ahead with a big push on sales of fern Dryopteris wallichiana ‘Jurassic Gold’ (pictured) and other perennials.
What do you regard as the biggest opportunity for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2020 and why?
For us the biggest opportunity is the wide base of innovative products being found by a diverse group of plant breeders and discoverers. A general positivity in the industry and desire for new product also helps.
In the EU, we are looking to move forward with a range of perennials. Salvias are a hot topic at the moment. We released two last year — ‘Amethyst Lips’ and ‘Cherry Lips’ — and have plans for four-to-five more in the next 18 months.
We will also have exciting developments in heuchera and will have Antirrhinum antirinova, a compact multi-branching variety with the longest flowering season I have ever seen, lasting from April through until November.
What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2020 and why?
The biggest challenge is Brexit and the changes our potential exit from the EU will make to the way we protect new ornamental plant varieties both in the EU and UK, and the potential cost increases that will bring. It will also potentially complicate the process of sending out new variety samples to EU growers and increase the costs if we need to have an inspection and phytosanitary certificate for every batch.
What was the best thing about winning a Horticulture Week Business Award for you as a business?
It has help raised the profile of British-bred ornamental products and is now well known with recognisable logos. When we enter, we are entering on behalf of a plant breeder who often cannot believe the industry acclaim his or her variety has achieved, especially when put up against some of the multinationals. This then encourages them on to further innovation.