The show was created by the following industry bodies: Pieterpikzonen in the Netherlands, Tézier Home Garden in France, Dutch-based Sahin, home garden brand Japanese Takii, German supplier Gartner Pötschke and Burpee from the USA.
The importance of retailer-consumer communications was raised by Jisk Koopmans and Robert Wacker of Floramedia who predicted the use of QR codes (a refined bar-code system) on seed packets within 12 months. QR codes can link consumers with ‘smart’ phones to websites supplying details on the culture and use of the varieties on sale.
Rolf Pohlen of German plant retailer Gärtner Pötschke suggested more gardeners were expected buy online and use the internet as a source of information for choosing and growing plants. Renee Shepherd of Renee’s Garden in the USA explained the advantages of communicating with her customers and creating a blog on her website to help home gardeners with questions. Shepherd also emphasised the importance of trials in generating reliable information to pass on to her customers and to ensure the best varieties are selected for a range of climatic conditions.
Brenda Horstra of the Dutch Garden Centre Association spoke on the latest research on garden trends for 2012 and Peter Seabrook explained how his weekly column in the Saturday issue of The Sun is the most popular page of the week.
Breeding for the home garden market was explored by Dr. Elisabeth Sahin founder of Sahin Zaden and Wolfgang Fischer of Hild Samen and both confirmed the potential of breeding for the home garden market, particularly for mail-order and internet trade. However Dr. Sahin questioned the viability of breeding new open pollinated lines for the packet seed trade if wholesale prices did not reflect the costs of research and product development.
The conference as a whole agreed that the pressures of dealing with large multiple retailers with regard to pricing resulted in a reduced choice of new and improved varieties. However, sales via catalogues and the internet demonstrated that home gardeners are interested in purchasing new varieties if they offer novel attributes or improvements in flavour, yield, disease resistance and general performance.