Coolings garden centre in Kent has presented a Japanese garden showcase to invited guests in a soft marketing campaign to raise its profile.
Sevenoaks mayor Richard Parry opened the display, which was designed by Japanese garden specialist Howard Healey of Rhino Rock in association with the Japanese Garden Society.
Coolings business development manager Neil Jackson said for the retail nursery and garden centre's 2013 centenary he plans to introduce better products and ideas such as coach trips to match the desires of visitors from its affluent catchment area. "We don't feel we're matching some customers' aspirations," he added.
Planning permission has been refused to clad the main shop, reconfigure the centre, turn the shop entrance into plants and replace old barns. However, Coolings intends to apply again next year.
Tough year - Sales fall but production steady
Coolings production manager Ian Hazon has reported that bedding sales were 11 per cent down in 2012 but he is planning to grow the same amount for 2013 despite the downturn.
"We sold all we grew and bought in less this year," he said. "Bedding for 2013 will be exactly the same because this was a one-in-20 year."
He grows 60,000 six-packs, 20,000 four-packs and 60,000 pots for spring. Hazon said vegetable plants, including 14,000 tomatoes, sold "fairly well in 2011" but strawberry plant sales were poor and he will halve production for 2013.
"In the past few years we haven't been able to get enough but we had some left on the nursery floor this year. I don't know why they didn't sell."