Growers facing challenge to supply plants that meet Olympic demands

The London 2012 Olympics could create high demand for bedding plants next year, but growers are unsure how to make the most of the opportunity.

Many local authorities are planning to use planting to join in the Olympic celebrations next year, while keeping within existing budgets.

There are strict controls over trademarked symbols and words to protect sponsors, so the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has suggested using the colours of the London 2012 brand - pink, orange, blue, yellow, purple and green.

However, the restrictions over what can be done has led to frustration among growers and many have decided to focus on red, white and blue plants.

Speaking at the HTA Bedding Focus conference last week, LOCOG horticultural project coordinator Paris Faro said there was likely to be high demand for the Olympic colours.

"There is a lot of expectation that a lot of the plant ing will be red, white and blue," she said. "However, the feedback we have had from local authorities is that they felt that being able to use the Olympic colours was a way they could engage in the games celebrations."

LOCOG sent out a "look book" to local authorities in August that included ways of using green space and planting to celebrate the games. It has also produced a list of suggested plants in the six colours. Faro added that there was not yet a clear way for local businesses to get involved.

Kernock Park Plants business development manager Mark Taylor said the company was going for red, white and blue next year.

"It's very frustrating," he said. "This is such a big opportunity for growers, but we just don't know how we can make the most of it.

"The local authorities may have been given all the information to help them decide what they're doing, but the nightmare for us is knowing who to go to in the local authorities."

Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen added: "We are going down the red, white and blue route as a company. You have to do something quite clever if you are using the Olympic colours.

"I think that most people will go for red, white and blue plants, especially garden centres. It's easy for them and doesn't take a lot of imagination. They will probably have things such as bunting to go with it."

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