The Garden Retail Awards 2011 saw garden centres show their resilience in the face of economic adversity at Grosvenor House in Park Lane, London, this week.
Themes included community involvement and retail's continuing support for charity, which is growing because of the economic downturn.
A strongly contested category was "community involvement", won by Surrey's Woodcote Green Garden Centre for a 228-school scheme that has helped thousands of children get into gardening through donations of products and time.
Employee of the year, Fermoy's Garden Centre's Sarah Dumont has also enthused 900 school children into gardening through the businesses' community projects.
Boyd Douglas Davies, on behalf of industry charity Greenfingers, launched new initiatives for Garden Re-leaf day on 13 March 2012, in which 500-plus garden centres will fund raise as well as publicise the industry.
And HTA president Carol Paris praised the industry's fundraising efforts in her speech.
Winners included Woodcote Green in the over £3m category and Sidmouth in the under £3m category, while Barton Grange's Eddie Topping took the lifetime achievement award. Garden Centre Group won three awards.
Garden Retail editor Matthew Appleby said: "What has been striking is that while this has proved a challenging 12 months for the sector, the ambitions of the businesses entering the awards have not diminished in the slightest.
"The judges saw example after example of truly creative thinking and bold steps. Looking forward to 2012 I have no doubt that the garden retail industry will be able to meet any challenges head on."
See photos of the winners and attendees at www.horticultureweek.co.uk/photos
Award Categories - Winners and finalists of this year's competition
The Garden Retail Awards attracted almost 400 industry figures to Grosvenor House in London last Monday. The best in the garden centre business won accolades across 18 categories.
Best New Plant Variety
Physocarpus 'Little Devil'
- John Woods Nurseries. Finalist: David Austin Roses 'Wollerton Old Hall'. Sponsored by Landgard.
Best New Product
Scotts Miracle-Gro Roseclear Ultra. Finalists: Westland Horticulture West + multipurpose compost 4 month feed, Vital Earth Vitalizer natural fertliser.
Best Business Development
Millbrook Garden Company. Highly Commended: Scotsdales Garden Centre, Mill End Nursery. Finalist: Hayes Garden World.
Best Customer Service
Scotsdales. Finalists: Simpsons Garden Centre, Old Barn Nursery & Garden Centre, Garden & Leisure, Stanway Garden Centre. Highly commended: Sidmouth Garden Centre. Sponsored by Greenfield Software.
Best Catering Facilities
World's End Garden Centre Group. Highly commended: Lowden Garden Centre, Simpsons Garden Centre. Finalists: Endsleigh Garden & Leisure, Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre. Spnsored by HTA.
Best Pet or Aquatics Department
Monkton Elm Garden Centre. Sponsored by PATS.
Planters Garden Centre. Finalists: Woodcote Green Garden Centre, Sidmouth Garden Centre, Stockton Garden Centre, World's End Garden Centre. Sponsored by Floramedia.
Retail Outlet under £3m turnover
Sidmouth Garden Centre. Highly commended: Lowden Garden Centre. Finalists: Tunbridge Wells Garden Centre Albrighton Garden Centre.
Retail Outlet over £3m turnover
Woodcote Green. Highly commended: Perrywood Garden Centre & Nurseries. Finalists: Grosvenor, Simpsons, Huntingdon Garden & Leisure, Monkton Elm, Blooms Cardiff. Sponsored by Quinton Edwards.
Urban Garden Centre of the Year
North One. Finalists: Fulham Palace Garden Centre, Syon Park Garden Centre. Sponsored by Mr Fothergill's.
Best Themed Promotion
Fermoy's. Finalists: RHS Garden Wisley.
Commitment to Staff Development
Homebase/MorePerformance. Finalists: Garden & Leisure, Grosvenor, Shenstone Garden Centre, Harrow Garden Centre.
Community Involvement Award
Woodcote Green. Highly commended: Coolings Nurseries, The Gardens Group. Finalists: St Peters' Garden Centre, Fermoy's, Grosvenor, Monkton Elm. Sponsored by Sinclair.
Best Environmental Policy
Sanders Garden World Garden Centre Group. Sponsored by Bayer Garden.
Employee of the Year
Sarah Dumont, Fermoy's. Finalists: Darren Knapman (Sidmouth), Adrian Youdell (Cadbury Garden & Leisure), Julie Pike (Woodcote Green), Dale Pane (Mill End Nursery), Susan Asprey (Wisley). Sponsored by MorePeople.
Westland Garden Centre Trainee
Will Foulkes, Weybridge Garden Centre Group. Finalists: Max Sims (Garden & Leisure), Dave Booker (Cadbury Garden & Leisure).
Sales Team of the Year
Sidmouth Garden Centre. Finalists: Endsleigh Garden & Leisure, RHS Garden Wisley.
Garden Retail Award for Lifetime Achievement