The Four Oaks Trade Show is back and celebrating! After a two-year gap, there is great anticipation for the anniversary of the UK’s premier showcase of commercial horticulture. The influential industry gathering has facilitated trade across the sector for 50 years and has been sorely missed.
Starting as a nursery ‘Open Day’ in 1971, thriving through the garden centre boom years of the 1980s, the show has evolved into a truly international, must-attend event for horticultural professionals.
The first overseas exhibitors were Minier Nurseries from France and Hoogenraad Nurseries from Holland. In 1991, during a recession, the show became a two-day event and the number of European exhibitors surged. They brought masses of hardy stock, mature trees and Mediterranean plants, changing the profile of the show forever. Europlants was the first in this category.
Since the last trade show, horticulture has lost some wonderful characters, including Pat Coutts, Four Oaks’ exhibition director. Pat built up the trade show through the decades and her legacy will be celebrated on the 50th anniversary.
Four Oaks provides a unique environment for introductions and innovation in plants, supplies, machinery, retail products, technology and services from a diverse range of suppliers. Many companies have participated throughout and often the purchases and partnerships formed at Four Oaks have been the catalyst for major business growth.
The winning business
Since 2003, Horticulture Week has been the show’s media partner and has run annual New Product Awards. Winning can provide a substantial boost to a product and its business owner. The awards for the best stands have been won by some of the most spectacular displays from exhibitors, including Europlants, Plantline, Zenflora and Lovania Nurseries. Colegrave Seeds (now Ball) was one of the very first companies to exhibit, winning many best new plant introduction accolades through the years, including for the Coleus Kong series, Osteospermum ‘Yellow Voltage’ and Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’.
This year will be the 33rd appearance for Kernock Park Plants. Managing director Bruce Harnett says: “We’ve attended every year since 1988. The trade show was instrumental in the development of the ‘patio plant’ movement in the late 1980s and 1990s and is a great platform for introductions and catching up with new and existing customers.
We’re fortunate to have won countless awards for our innovative new plants and exhibits through the decades.” Kernock Park award-winning plant introductions include the Buddleja Buzz series and Calibrachoa ‘Lemon Slice’, from Proven Winners.
Fargro has exhibited since the 1980s, offering an extensive range of growing media, materials and equipment, and winning awards for products such as Dazide Enhancer and Mosskade. LBS Horticulture exhibited from the 1970s and for the 50th year its stand will be bigger than ever in House A, with a huge range of horticultural, irrigation and landscaping products plus on-stand catering.
Good for business
Many small businesses use Four Oaks as a launch pad and benefit from lasting alliances made there, none more effectively than REMIN (Scotland). Owner Jennifer Brodie recalls: “The Four Oaks Trade Show has been a key calendar date even before I launched the company. Our Volcanic Rock Dust won Best Retail Product in 2015. This attracted the attention of Agralan and it assumed the marketing that now highlights the benefit of enhanced carbon capture by the soil, so gardeners and growers can contribute to the fight against climate change.”
Whatever the size of business, if it sells to the horticulture industry, the Four Oaks Trade Show is an essential event. With exhibitors extremely keen to be back and planning many special promotions, 2022 is a year no one should miss!
The 50th show will take place on 6-7 September at the Four Oaks Cheshire nursery site. For updates follow @FOTS50 on Twitter.