HTA National Plant Show turns exclusive spotlight on plants

The first ever HTA National Plant Show will aim to meet the needs of growers and retailers, says Matthew Appleby.

The inaugural HTA National Plant Show, developed in response to demand from HTA growers and retailers for a purely plant-orientated event, will provide a "no frills approach that will allow the plants to be the stars" according to HTA president Caroline Owen.

Owen says the show, which will feature 93 exhibitors and 115 stands of British plants, will be an "extremely cost-effective way of meeting growers and viewing their ranges at a time when plants are looking their absolute best".

Garden centre buyers can buy direct from the marketplace and see the best new plants in the new plant awards. Leading growers such as Allensmore, Lowaters, Farplants, Bransford Webbs, Hillier, John Woods, Johnsons of Whixley, Pentland Plants and David Austin are among the firms planning to exhibit at the event. The show has also attracted leading buyers, including 130 staff from Garden Centre Group (GCG).

GCG head of horticulture Tim Clapp says: "For us the National Plant Show is a really important indicator of the strength of the British nursery stock market and we've actively encouraged all of our suppliers to exhibit. We're really looking forward to meeting our suppliers, potential new suppliers and seeing some of the new plant ranges that will be launched there."

Notcutts Garden Centres plant buyer Colin Dale adds that a new British plant show will be of great interest. "We wish to work as partners with British nurseries. The timing is good because it allows more time for forward planning. As ever, quality, service and pricing will be key elements in our decision making."

Coolings Garden Centres' Gary Carvosso says: "Coolings expects to get value from attending the show because plants are core and will remain core to our future success. Supporting British growers now will pay dividends later on, otherwise UK retail horticulture could all end up selling a relatively narrow and similar range of continental stock."

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe adds: "With exhibitors covering the whole of the UK plant supply chain, the National Plant Show is a must-attend event for anyone involved in buying plants from garden retailers and garden designers to landscapers and landscape architects.

"The support received to date from leading garden retailers clearly demonstrates that a plant-focused show in June is right for the industry and we encourage others to sign up via the HTA National Plant Show website."

Hortipak, a UK-based supplier of labels, POS material, clothing, workwear and corporate stationary, is principal supporter. Timber Displays is providing benching for the new plant awards, ProVar plant display and the conifer and roses merchandising displays. Registration services are being provided by G7.

British Plant Fair's Marketplace will allow garden retailers to buy on the day and ProVar plant display will showcase a range of new plants and established varieties that are new this year.

Confirmed speakers at the seminars are Andy McIndoe from Hillier Nurseries (11am, Tuesday 29 June) and Raymond Evison from the Guernsey Clematis Company (11am, Wednesday 30 June).

The British Rose Group will be launching its new merchandising guide at the show, illustrating eye-catching ideas for displaying the nation's favourite plant. The conifer display will provide inspiration for merchandising ahead of National Conifer Week, which takes place on 2-10 October.

Plant For Life will be showcasing its current campaign, Scentsational, which highlights the health benefits associated with different plants. The Visitor Vote Awards for the best new plant - sponsored by Floramedia - will be awarded on the afternoon of 30 June.

- For further information and to register to attend the HTA National Plant Show on 29-30 June, visit or email


A BBC gardening series will be filming at the National Plant Show. Operation Pollination is the working title of the programmes, featuring gardener Sarah Raven, in which she will investigate biodiversity in our gardens, parks, towns, cities and countryside.

An element of the series is being filmed at a National Plant Show seminar Raven is chairing about nectar and pollen-rich plants. She will be joined by University of Northampton pollination ecologist Dr Jeff Ollerton, RHS Wisley horticultural adviser Helen Bostock and horticultural marketing consultant Doug Stewart on 29 June at 2.30pm.

The seminar will explore the importance of nectar and pollen-rich plants in attracting and supporting wild pollinators and biodiversity and the marketing opportunity that this presents for garden centres.

The three-part series of one-hour structured observational documentaries is due to air on the BBC in autumn 2011. Director Andy Vernon says the idea originates from Raven's 2008 Gardeners' World special Rivers of Flowers, which was about creating a river of wild flowers that linked protected meadows and woodlands - thus ensuring the wildlife that thrives in these habitats has a chance to survive. Series producer is Tricia Lawton.

Projects to be filmed in 2010 and revisited in 2011 include conservationists at Dungeness in Kent, Britain in Bloom volunteers in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, as well as filming in Sheffield and at a Birmingham City Council trial project set up this year.

Vernon says: "There are lots of projects contributing to this series. Uptake has been great with the keenness of people who want to get involved and help us with material for the series."

He adds: "We want to talk to the industry at large about issues with pollination and concerning the bee situation, and what we can do as gardeners to help."

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