Olympics and jubilee fuel flood of orders for red, white and blue plant mixtures

Nurseries are responding to the celebratory mood for 2012 with promotion of plugs and plant mixes in patriotic colours.

Ball Colegrave reports an upward trend in patriotic colour mixes - image: Ball Colegrave
Ball Colegrave reports an upward trend in patriotic colour mixes - image: Ball Colegrave

Orders for red, white and blue plants are rolling in and growers are expecting high demand for the colours next year.

The Olympic Games and the Queen's diamond jubilee are leading to high levels of interest in the patriotic colours and growers are receiving high levels of orders.

Arden Lea Nurseries is producing 12,000 jubilee baskets and 4,000 "Going for Glory" Olympic primrose planters for B&Q stores following the success of its Royal Wedding hanging basket range.

Ball Colegrave will be launching new mixtures as plugs next week with a mailing to customers. They include petunia mixes Easy Wave Union Flag Mixed, Shock Wave Patriotic Mixed, and Express Patriot Mixed, and the F1 hybrid Phlox 21st Century Celebration Mixed.

Marketing manager Stuart Lowen said: "We are getting a number of enquiries and orders. It seems to be a general trend to celebrate the two events next year. We have seen an upward trend in the plants and in patriotic coloured mixtures. We are really pushing the red, white and blue thing and this is a great opportunity for the whole industry."

WD Smith director Mike Smith grows speculatively and said he was planning to "take a punt" on red, white and blue. "We are keener on that than the Olympic colours - we're going to give them a wide berth.

"Hopefully people will take an interest. The last bank holiday was reasonably successful and this year it's in June so we hope this one will be better."

The Sun/Scotts Miracle-Gro schools project in May 2012 will see 100 schools grow red, white and blue flowers including Petunia 'Fanfare', blue Lobelia 'Waterfall' and vegetables. The plants will come from Florist, David & Priscilla Kerley, Ball Colegrave, Thompson & Morgan and other seed companies.

Peter Seabrook said: "The aim will be to encourage schools and all gardeners to plant red, white and blue for the Queen's jubilee."

See feature, p22.

Nursery view - Charmay Ball, general manager, Lovania Nurseries

"We're getting involved in quite a big way - for example with themed hanging baskets in red, white and blue. Orders are coming in thick and fast from supermarkets and we're quite optimistic for next year. We see more opportunities with red, white and blue than the Olympic colours."

Association flags food supply potential in West Sussex

Commercial growers based in the unique growing environment of the Chichester plain have the potential to significantly increase import substitution but need planners, bankers and Government policy on their side, West Sussex Growers Association chair Colin Frampton told attendees at the group's annual dinner last week.

He cited planning as an example of the challenges facing growers who were being encouraged by the Government to boost home produced food security.

"Planning has been an important issue this year, with one of our members having to go to appeal over the citing and building of a new generation glasshouse nursery," he said.

"We have to decide as a county and as a district how we square the circle of integrating large glasshouses with the local community and infrastructure. If not here, then where?"

Meanwhile a "stop-go" Government energy policy had wasted huge amounts of time and effort by growers who were thinking beyond gas supplies.

The "sudden and dramatic" reductions in the subsidy rates for solar-power feed-in tariffs had seen many members' projects postponed or abandoned.

The association, which in 2010 produced a groundbreaking study highlighting the industry's critical importance to the region, has been asked to support a feasibility study on future glasshouse clusters and energy hubs.

In the past year alone, said Frampton, local businesses had invested millions of pounds in pepper, tomato and strawberry production facilities. But still more crops could be grown in the UK with the right backing from outside the industry.

The association has hosted numerous visits this year including one from Parliamentary under-secretary for the natural environment Richard Benyon, who is responsible for Government policy on peat.

Frampton said: "As a product, peat is vital and irreplaceable to many of our local businesses and the association will fight any unreasonable use reductions vigorously."

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