Garden Retail Awards 2011 judges have praised the innovations put forward by garden centres across the country.
Garden author Graham Clarke praised garden centres for thinking "outside the box". He said: "With the economic climate and difficult weather conditions, a lot of garden centres have been quick-thinking and stepped outside the box.
"People clearly had meetings to discuss improvement ideas, as shown by the high quality of retail thinking."
Catering has become one of the most hotly contested categories. The judges were thrilled to see the introduction of greener practices in garden centre restaurants.
Amateur Gardening news editor Marc Rosenberg said: "The best improvements in catering are firms showing the strongest commitments to cutting food miles and providing local, organic food.
"Many have started growing their own on site. It strengthens their 'green' appeal brilliantly, providing the customer with fresher, tastier options."
Eve Tigwell Consultancy director Eve Tigwell said: "The greatest improvements have been in the Best Planteria and Community Involvement awards, but there is more to be done in both areas."
Each of the judges encouraged garden centres to enter the awards next year, emphasising the positive effect of an industry award on marketing campaigns.
The ceremony will be held on Monday 31 October at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London W1K 7TN.
To attend, call 020 8267 4433 or email email@example.com.
Garden Retail Awards - Top tips for potential entrants
Improve photos - Show the whole area, not just close-ups. Photos should be labelled with a caption.
Stand out - Doug Stewart advised: "Don't be afraid to show the wackier things you have done. It's great to see something really different."
Avoid cliches - These should be avoided "like the plague", Chris Day recommended, to widespread agreement from his fellow judges.
Include thought processes - "Judges want to know how you developed ideas as much as what they are," said Eve Tigwell.
Use figures - Tigwell also said: "Back up what you have done with evidence and figures."