The numbers say it all. The South West Growers Show, taking place on 5 October, has sold more than 80 stands so far, with more than half booked by growers.
One exhibitor, Jackson & Son, is perhaps the South West's leading plug plant cash and carry, and managing director David Jackson has no doubt - he will always find a slot in his business calendar to pop along.
"Because of where we are, we trade heavily on the show and launch a fresh catalogue on the event," says Jackson, who is expecting to hook up with around 100 customers and maybe a few new ones. "As a small company trading locally this is a vital part of our presentation to customers and a driver for our advertising and promotional offering."
This year, however, the show is even more important because GAN has been withdrawn, says Jackson, taking in the wider industry view. "I see no reason to be downhearted about our sector. There may not be much growth but customers value closer relations, more face-to-face contact and the personal touch."
This is where the South West Growers Show comes into its own, especially when you take in what Jackson & Son will be showing off this year. The company, based in Honiton, Devon, has been toying with a number of head turners for this year's bash. Impatiens may be suffering from mildew, but Jackson knows how to compensate. His team will be showing off Phlox 21st Century while Wave Petunias make another "exciting alternative" to the disease-hit impatiens varieties.
TV presenter, writer and gardener Toby Buckland always proves a huge draw and is opening the show at the Matford Centre in Exeter, Devon. Buckland, who has worked in horticulture since leaving school, is a former student of the local Bicton College - another exhibitor - and is best known for stints on Gardeners' World and Home Front in the Garden. Buckland has designed dozens of highly-acclaimed gardens, won RHS gold and best in show for an ethical garden at BBC Gardeners' World Live in 2008.
This track record is fitting for an event on the up, according to show chairman Mark Taylor. Organisers reckon they are on to a sell-out show with around 80 per cent of the 115 or so spaces booked. Last year, more than 1,200 people visited more than 100 exhibitors. This year could be even better, he believes.
"We were absolutely delighted with the quality and received excellent feedback on last year's event," he recalls. "As it was the first time we as growers had organised the show, we always knew it would be subsequent years that would really seal its success. The 2010 show surpassed our expectations and we have great hopes for 2011.
"The show is the South West's only trade event aimed at growers and plant buyers from local authorities, garden centres and retail outlets. It is unique and brings together key growers and suppliers of specialist horticultural equipment and services. It is the place to see and source the latest plant introductions and new products."
A flurry of recent Twitter notices suggests businesses are creating virtual as well as physical momentum. Container Centralen has just booked its stand. Meanwhile, Electronic & Technical Services and CambridgeHOK Construction booked a few days before, following a lead taken by Riley Growers and Flowering Plants.
One of this year's biggest draws is a designated display area for new products, which will be judged for the awards Best New Product, Best New Plant Introduction and Best Trade Stand. New products, or in this case new colours, include Ruby and Honey Gerbera Everlast from Kernock Park Plants.
Managing director Bruce Harnett says: "We will be showing several new items such as our Autumn Jewel Aster and mini petunia, which is attracting a lot of attention. Heucherella Redstone and Yellowstone look great tumbling over baskets and containers or as ground cover and Tradescantia Sunshine Charm is good in beds or on patios.
"It's as important as ever to show your products, given the economic climate. It's not so much about orders but getting to see as many of your customers or potential customers as possible. It is hard to do that through any other means as effectively and efficiently as a trade show."
Rainbow Plants, the wholesale supplier to garden centres and landscapers, makes a return visit to the show. Owner Bob Joy agrees the event is short but perfectly pitched, which is why his company has exhibited for many years to showcase new varieties, meet other growers and rub shoulders with existing and potential customers under one roof.
Also exhibiting will be Pinks producer and Growers Group member Whetman Pinks, which will show off Pinks bred in Devon but sold in every corner of the world. These include Scent First pot and patio pinks and Early Bird pinks.
Show promoter Clive Marlow shares the upbeat mood: "It has been a good season and in the current economic climate it is important to get face-to-face with the customer, which is the best type of marketing you can ask for. We hope a lot of growers in the South West who have not been involved before take part in the show this year."
What: South West Growers Show 2011
Where: The Matford Centre, Exeter, Devon EX2 8FD
When: Wednesday 5 October
Organiser: Growers for Growers
Contact: Call 01297 680567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Botany Bay Nurseries
Commercial Greenhouse Grower (ACT Publishing)
Commercial Horticultural Association (CHA)
Compo & Co
Electronic & Technical Services
EM Effective Micro-Organisms
FJ Jackson & Son
Gasa Young Plants
H Smith Plastics
Horticultural sales (JAVADO UK)
Horticultural Trades Association (HTA)
Institute of Horticulture
Jelitto Perennial Seeds
Kernock Park Plants
Mil-Tek & My Power Solar PV
New Wood Trees
Northern Liner Company
Taunton Deane Nurseries
Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants
Thompson & Morgan UK
Tyne Moulds & Machinery
WeeTree Wholesale Nurseries
West Kington Nurseries
William Sinclair Horticulture