South West Growers Show 2011 - Preview

The show in Exeter is the South West's only trade event for growers and plant buyers from councils, garden centres and retail outlets, says Jez Abbott.

South West Growers Show is a place to showcase new varieties, meet growers and rub shoulders with customers - image: SWRG
South West Growers Show is a place to showcase new varieties, meet growers and rub shoulders with customers - image: SWRG

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This year, however, the show is even more important because GAN has been withdrawn, says Jackson, taking in the wider industry view.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."

Gathering momentum

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."

Return visitor

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."

Show details
What: South West Growers Show 2011
Where: The Matford Centre, Exeter, Devon EX2 8FD
When: Wednesday 5 October
Admittance: Free
Organiser: Growers for Growers
Website: www.swgs.co.uk
Contact: Call 01297 680567 or email admin@swgs.co.uk

Confirmed Exhibitors
Advance Bunzl
Agralan
Albion Plants
APAC Packaging

Ball Colegrave
Barcham Trees
Bicton College
Botany Bay Nurseries
Brockhill Nurseries

CambridgeHOK Construction
Castlefield Products
Certis Europe
Chamberlain Nurseries
Commercial Greenhouse Grower (ACT Publishing)
Commercial Horticultural Association (CHA)
Compo & Co
Container Centralen
Cottage Gardens

Dulford Nurseries

Electronic & Technical Services
EM Effective Micro-Organisms
Even Products
Everris

Fargro
Fertil International
FJ Jackson & Son
Flowering Plants

Gasa Young Plants
Gardeners Kitchen
Growth Technology

H Smith Plastics
Haxnicks
Heathwood Nurseries
Hortech Solutions
Hydrogarden
Horticultural sales (JAVADO UK)
Horticultural Trades Association (HTA)
Horticulture Week

Institute of Horticulture

Jelitto Perennial Seeds
JFC Monro

Kernock Park Plants

LBS Horticulture
LS Systems

Melcourt Industries
Mil-Tek & My Power Solar PV
Moles Seeds

National Polytunnels
New Leaf
New Wood Trees
Nightpark Nurseries
Northern Liner Company
Northern Polytunnels

Oakgate Nursery
Oakover Nurseries

Pentland Plants
PG Horticulture
Plantcare
Plantopia
Polybuild

Quinton Edwards

Rainbow Plants
Riley Growers
Rite Air

Seiont Nurseries

Talaton Plants
Taunton Deane Nurseries
Teal International
Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants
Thompson & Morgan UK
Trimplants
Tyne Moulds & Machinery

Vital Earth
Vitax
Volmary GmbH

Waterwise Engineering
WeeTree Wholesale Nurseries
West Kington Nurseries
Whetman Pinks
William Sinclair Horticulture
Woodbeare Nurseries
Woodland Horticulture
WWP Direct

XL Horticulture

Yara (UK)
Young Plants


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