Trend is for bigger specimen plants says Coblands

Trade clients are moving away from buying lots of smaller plants to buying bigger, but fewer, specimen plants, according to Coblands.

Hydrangea 'Coco Chic' - one of this year's new plants at Coblands
Hydrangea 'Coco Chic' - one of this year's new plants at Coblands

The Kent nursery, which is celebrating 50 years of trading this year, has added around 100 different herbaceous perennials and grasses to its 5 to 10 litre pot range this year, experimenting with varieties to see how successful they are in response to buying trends.

Sales manager Lewis Normand said that garden designers and landscapers in particular were after plants which could make an impact straight away.

"Our success has always been in producing herbaceous perennials rather than shrubs. People are buying fewer but they prefer them to be larger plants. We will continue to stock plants in 2l pots but increasingly we will have them in 5l too. One 5l Artemisia, for example, is better than two or three 2l ones, it’s about giving people bang for their buck. We see ourselves doing more of this in the future. Sales have been buoyant.

"Some of the best plants that we have found to be worthwhile growing on have been Sedum, Salvia nemorosa types, Heuchera cultivars and Rudbeckia, where they get a chance to develop good root systems, voluminous top growth and improved flowering."

Coblands has added more than 70 new plants to its range of over 6,000 different plant lines this year including several Hydrangeas and plant of the year finalist Eryngium ‘Neptune’s Gold’, which Normand said was "an excellent grower". Coblands has exclusive wholesale rights to horticultural professionals for 2014.

The nursery, near Tonbridge, is holding three open days this week, with the last one tomorrow. It has invited a range of its customers from local authorities, private estates, garden design and landscaping to attend and has a different attraction each day.

Yesterday RHS Chelsea Flower Show Main Avenue designer Paul Hervey-Brookes attended with the finalists for this year’s Young Designer of the Year competition last year’s winner Tony Woods, who and took part in a question and answer forum. Coblands worked with Hervey-Brookes on this year’s Chelsea garden. Today Angus Cunningham from Scotscape was presenting his new vertical wall system and talking about greening vertical spaces and tomorrow Ruth Marshall from Cool Gardens will discuss show gardens.

Horticultural charity Perennial is also fundraising at the event.

Normand said the event so far had been a success.

"We’re linking some of the people we work with some of the people we supply and promote some of the projects we’re working on and the work we’ve been doing at Chelsea. Luckily we’ve had great weather as well," he said.

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