Hopes raised for renaissance in Italian plant sales

Italian plant sales could be set for a renaissance - and attention given to the country in a new book from Gardener's World presenter Monty Don "won't hurt", say suppliers.

Don's Great Gardens of Italy (Quadrille) features 30 gardens from Naples, Rome, Viterbo, Tuscany, Veneto and The Lakes.

Classiflora Imports key account manager Iain Pentney said: "We were up eight per cent last year and we're forecasting 10 per cent this year. We've gone away from concept of Italian plants to Mediterranean because people think they are smaller and more accessible, but after the past two bad winters that might come unstuck."

Europlants sales director Mark Smith, whose company is running open days in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, on 2-3 March, said: "I am not convinced that Monty Don talking about specimen plants in itself is going to have a dramatic effect on the marketplace, but it certainly won't hurt.

"Far more important is the weather - in our recent past and what happens during this spring. I foresee that garden centres will continue to sell plants from £12.99 to £49.99 in big quantities. Sales of larger plants will increase as customers look to replace the losses they have suffered over winter."

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