Ornamentals production: 2012 review


The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) said new techniques for plant health inspectors such as DNA testing and listening devices could be in use by the end of the year.

Leading names from across the ornamentals and edibles production horticulture sectors were shortlisted for the Grower of the Year Awards 2012.

The government proposed a Rural and Farming Network to improve communication with rural areas.

Lowaters Nursery installed a 50kW photovoltaic solar unit on its site in Hampshire.

Delays on implementing pesticide rules thre up cause for frustration and optimism across horticulture sectors at the start of what they said should have been a crunch year for chemicals.

Researchers at the University of Warwick said that LEDs were likely to be the most effective replacement for tungsten bulbs used for day-extension and night-break lighting.


Environment secretary Caroline Spelman told an All-Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group delegation that she would build a case for using Technology Strategy Board money for ornamentals research and development.

Bransford Webbs launched a new range of labels that link to a revamped website through QR codes.

Initial indications from retail trials suggested that plants holding the British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) Home Grown labels were outselling those without.

Young Plants Specialist Delamore joined the ranks of suppliers to cut their offering of cutting-raised impatiens wallleriana as a result of industry wide pressure.

John Wood Nurseries launched an online ordering system that it claimed was the first of its kind in the UK.

Plantswoman and broadcaster Christine Walkden said it was too difficult for amateur gardeners to get the information needed to understand the issues surrounding peat and its alternatives.

Delegates at the BPOA conference heard a cooler assessment of the impact the diamond jubilee and the Olympics would have on retail sales from Squires managing director Dennis Espley.

Bedding growers attending the technical seminar at the BPOA conference heard that they stood to make big savings by adopting energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems.


Lovania Nurseries led the winners of the Grower of the Year Awards, 18 months after a major launch into a new ornamental product sector.

The HTA completed the delivery of a pilot training programme for ornamental growers as part of a two-year project to improve industry training.

Figures released anonymously to HW showed that the prices of wholesale container plants had increased over the past two years but remained just 8.2 per cent above prices 19 years ago.

Hillier Garden Centre became the first major retailer to join the BPOA Home Grown label promotion.

Dutch growers were hit by the cold winter, leading to shortages of many plants used by landscapers.

Whartons Nurseries installed a wind turbine and photovoltaic panels at its South Green production site.

Industry figures criticised FERA policy towards statutory plant health services following the consultation into proposed new fees.

Wholesale herbaceous perennial grower Prenplants announced that is was a peat-free nursery.


Sales of bedding plants were up on 2011 as customers failed to be deterred by the drought.

Poor weather in winter 2011 forced some nurseries to drop out of the latest edition of the RHS Plant Finder 2012-2013 because of a lack of stock.

Bedding growers began to opt for more drought-tolerant species as a result of the dry conditions in parts of the country.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show grower exhibitors said their displays were likely to suffer after "unprecendented" cold weather leading up to the event brought plant growth to a halt.


Plants for Europe owner Graham Spencer said premium prices for new introductions were becoming a thing of the past, despite the sale of a snowdrop bulb for £725 earlier in the year.

The drought led to a cut in the number of hanging baskets and a shift to plants requiring less water at the Wimbledon tennis championships.

The RHS released a long list for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show new plant of the year award.

One-stop shops began to dominate top-end show garden plant supply at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with the entrance of Hortus Loci into the market.

Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman said that raising awareness about plant health was a priority in combating exotic diseases.

A gathering of top plant breeders at the Chelsea Flower Show head how Plant of the Year 2012, Thompson and Morgan’s Digitalis ‘Illumination in Pink’, was the result of a hybridisation previously thought impossible.

FERA praised growers for cutting Phytophthora infection rates, but warned that the weather could be more favourable to the disease.


Jubilee blooms were in high demand, with floral features supplier Plantscape planting 90,000 red, white and blue flowers.

Growers enjoyed an upsurge in business as a result of the improved weather and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but it was still uncertain whether it was enough to save the season.

Warm weather in the run-up to the jubilee bank holiday led to record sales, leaving many nurseries battling to keep up with orders from garden centres.

The serious fungal disease ash dieback hit the UK for the first time after 2,000 imported trees from the Netherlands were sold by mail order from a southern nursery.

HTA consultant David Brown said import rules must be tightened after the Chalara fraxinus scare.

Nurseries entered more than 100 new varieties into a new plant competition at the HTA National Plant Show.

Growers and retailers eager to extend the planting season launched a "summer is the new spring" campaign to tell consumers it is not too late to plant.

Christmas tree growers were keeping a close eye on current season needle necrosis to prevent a recurrence of damage to crops.


Despite the tough trading environment, many growers exhibiting at the HTA National Plant Show said they had a good show, with one saying it took more orders than at any other event.

Growers started looking ahead to autumn after a poor first half of the year as the HTA launched a campaign to encourage autumn gardening.

Two nurseries, Nicholsons and Double H installed renewable energy schemes to meet their electricity and heating needs.

Lincolnshire grower Taylors Bulbs said late summer and autumn could be a big opportunity for bulb sales if the weather improves.


Cambridgeshire container tree nursery Barcham Trees said it was becoming completely peat-free.

The most difficult year in half a century led to a 10 per cent drop in retail seed sales in 2012, according to Mr Fothergill’s.

Nursery stock growers hit by the poor weather said they were hoping for good autumn sales to limit the damage.


The effects of scrapping Low Value Consignment Relief in the Channel Islands were overshadowed by the year’s poor weather, growers said.

Bedding growers at the Four Oaks Trade Show said they enjoyed good sales as a result of improved weather in August.

Exhibitors at the Plantarium trade show said that adapting to new technology was essential for growers struggling with the economy and poor weather this year.


Concerns grew over the future development of the glasshouse sector in the UK as details emerged of the latest business to have its expansion plans rejected at the planning stage – Crosby’s.

Lowaters Nursery in Southampton won the UK Water Efficiency Awards farming and horticulture section for its rainwater harvesting system.

Horticultual Development Company (HDC) research carried out by the National Cut Flower Centre showed that biological control agents for soil-based diseases have little benefit when used on column stocks.

Growers and growing media suppliers warned that peat shortages in 2013 could lead to 15 per cent plant price rises.

Plant suppliers attending the South West Growers Show were upbeat on the market but reported mixed views on both autumn sales and prospects for 2013.

Colleges said they had seen a rise in the number of students taking horticulture courses this year, although some higher education courses were struggling.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe told delegates at the International Plant Propagators Society conference that a lack of control over the way product is sold to the consumer is holding growers back from playing a clear role in their products marketing.

The NFU said it was planning to bring together representatives from across the ornamentals industry to create a code of good practice for the supply chain.


Stars for Europe product manager Susanne Lux claimed poinsettia sales had the potential to grow by two and a half times in the UK.

Christmas tree growers looked forward to good sales after the rain resulted in a high-quality crop.

Growers at the GroSouth trade show reported that business was slow as continuing caution among customers led to later ordering.


The frustrations of the unique Chichester plain growing community that wants to up production but has seen glasshouse expansion blocked were expressed powerfully by West Sussex Growers Association chairman Colin Frampton at the group’s annual dinner.

Crowders managing director Simon Ellis, who lost £200,000 because of ash dieback, said government bodies could end the devastation caused by diseased imports by simply nordering in advance from British nurseries rather than importing.

Seed companies said they were holding up well with orders, despite caution from some customers at the end of a difficult year.

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