For the first time the show featured a trolley fair, with 135 trolleys showcasing plants from Irish nurseries. Trolley fair facilitator Paul Robbins said: "We're trying to add extra excitement. Some people were not aware what a trolley fair was. Now they can see what it's all about."
Billy Kelly, managing director of Kelly's Nurseries, set up sister company Ready Hedge this year to promote a new concept in instant hedging. Hedging planted in troughs 1m long are available, either with 20-litre or 110-litre capacity. The smaller troughs are bendable so they can create different shapes and the smaller hedges are ideal for planting direct into the ground. The larger units are ideal for patios or at restaurants, housing estates or industrial areas looking to create divisions or to screen areas off, according to Kelly.
After a slow start, exhibitor bookings had been "very good at the end, with the inside space completely full", although there was "a little downturn in the machinery section", according to show organiser Karen Guilfoyle. One machinery exhibitor that enjoyed the show was new product winner Groundscare Products. It was the firm's first time at the show and although managing director Paul Errington said the first day had been "relatively quiet", it received "several serious enquiries". The firm decided to sign up after being told that "a lot of landscapers came here" by one of its dealers.
Kildare Growers chairman and owner of Costin's Nursery John Joe Costin is to retire this year and will close down the nursery. "No one in the family is interested in taking it on," he said. "If it was a stud or dairy farm it would be snapped up. But the complexity of this business means a good production manager and marketing man is needed." He plans to continue plant hunting in the Middle East.
Show organiser Karen Guilfoyle has stepped down after 13 years. Kildare Growers chairman John Joe Costin praised her "imagination, courtesy and organisational skills". He added: "The show started without a template to emulate. Initially we were told it couldn't be done, shouldn't be done and couldn't succeed." But her work had made it a success, he said. She is stepping down to help husband Brendan Guilfoyle expand their business Amour Nurseries. Joseph Blair will take over.