Garden centre trends for 2011 - Matthew Appleby's predictions

Trends in garden centres continue to be dominated by grow your own but cut your own could be the next big thing, with gardeners growing traditional blooms for arrangements such as dahlias, gladioli and sweet William.


1. Cut your own. Taylor’s Bulbs director Adam Taylor says he is selling a record number of dahlia bulbs this winter. He said dahlias and other small flowering bulbs are growing in popularity "because they can fill so much of the colour spectrum and are good value for money", with "even gladioli which have been in the doldrums for years are showing renewed interest. There is a market with allotment gardeners growing cut flowers. The cut your own trend could come up if the market develops it with opportunities to maximise sales in gladioli, lilies and dahlias."

Worcestershire grower Bransford Webbs has expanded a cut-your-own flowers range, which now includes Achillea 'Summer Pastels,' Alstroemeria 'Inca Ice,' Coreopsis 'Early Sunrise,' Delphinium Guardian Blue, Lavender and White, Iris 'Blue Shimmer,' Leucanthemum 'Highland White Dream' and Scabiosa 'Perfecta Blue' and 'Perfecta White'.

Horticultural Trades Association business development manager Martin Simmons said:

"It's one to watch. Cut your own fits with nostalgic trends - the plants your grandparents grew. The past generation has moved away from this as the flower industry moved to Holland and then Africa. People are going back to what their grandparents used to do - growing from seed in their greenhouses."

2. Dobbies Garden Centres. The 26-centre Tesco-owned chain is expanding fast. Four are opening in early 2011, at Braehead, near Glasgow and Houstoun Mains, near Livingston. In England Dobbies is proposing new outlets at Orton Grange, near Carlisle, and at Ashford in Kent. Another at Nether Alderley, Cheshire, is planned. Then there will be around 70 more of the slick, carbon neutral centres built by 2020.

3. Italian plants. The exchange rate has meant British plants have been cheaper than continental specimens for a couple of years. But sterling is strengthening so overseas plants have more appeal. Monty Don returns to primetime BBC TV with Great Gardens of Italy in February. Monty makes a "personal exploration of Italy’s legendary gardens". Italian plants survive cold better than people think too - something to consider after last winter’s frosts.

4. Coastal gardens. RHS Chelsea Flower Show manager Alex Denman says coastal plants and gardening will feature on Robert Myers and Thomas Hoblyn’s gardens:

"They independently entered similar themes which is amazing." Robert’s Cancer Research UK garden has a theme of surviving and seashore using plants adapted to survive in coastal conditions, using plants from Crocus. Thomas is designing the Homebase garden using memories of childhood trips to the Cornish seaside, using plants for Howard Nurseries.

5. London-based North One Garden Centre Paul Holt is probably the only "creative director" working in garden retail. He says heirloom garden antiques such as rhubarb forcers and old bell cloches will be big in 2011 in the boutique market. This mirrors the revival in old varieties such as Mr Fothergill’s Vegetable Explorer range. Paul studies trend forecast magazine Mix and says dusty blues and purples are the in colours for next season. He adds that faux floral motifs and botanical references are set to crossover into mainstream homewares in what style setters are calling the ‘botanica’ trend.

6. Barbecues: Garden Centres Association chairman Dennis Espley, who runs the 11-centre Squire’s garden centre group says there will be "continued interest in outside heating and eating - a good value way to enjoy time with friends and family, rather than eating out". He adds that burger munchers are likely to be looking at grasses, which are attracting "more interest as people realise their variety and versatility".

7. GIMA director Neil Gow: British Made is going to hit an all time high. Red white and blue will be in with the surge of patriotism surrounding protecting our own jobs and a little wedding that they have chosen to have on a really awful date.

"Grow your own will climb to new heights with veg and fruit in particular. People are going to spend more time at home and so gardening will be back on the agenda.

People will be buying inexpensive but cheerful looking plants and products to help their garden look cheery – I mean things like fertiliser and watering products rather than furniture and gimmicks. They will buy them from solid reliable retailers who demonstrate genuine care for the community and will be looking for ethical suppliers. Look at how the sales of bottled water are leaking away as consumers realise what a rip off it is and how environmentally un sound it is, not to mention ethically wrong.

As the spring wears on and we climb out of the gloom of recession, realising that our jobs may be safer than we thought we might be encouraged to spend a bit more on our gardens. The holiday industry will have seen very low booking levels in the early year and more people will ‘holiday at home’ so that could help the bigger ticket items bounce back a bit after the caution of earlier in the year not helped by the VAT increase on January 4th."



Meerkats, plastic fake box balls, horse chestnuts and oaks, grow your own. 

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