The year ahead

Kick off 2018 with our traditional annual bumper preview of the year ahead for the horticulture industry.

Key themes for the coming months include the growing impact on the industry of the threat of Xylella — an issue likely to enter the wider public domain this year following the RHS’ decision to ban use of high risk plants grown abroad at this years Chelsea Flower Show.

Our October survey of professional plant buyers found 74% had already stopped buying some imported plants because of the threat — a trend likely to further drive a switch to UK-grown plants when combined with the impact of Brexit on exchange rates and import costs.

At garden retail outlets plants which help consumers make the most of their small gardens — and indoor products — are expected to continue to perform well in 2018 — while the larger garden centre groups are expected to reap the rewards of investment in product ranging and stock management systems in terms of improved sales this year.

One of the largest challenges for much of horticultural production continues to be seasonal migrant labour supply, with frustration growing at the lack of a clear steer from the Government on the issue — and for the amenity sectors the loss of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s dedicated parks programmes.

Budgeting pressures in amenity management meanwhile will see more look to the potential cost savings from technology including robotics, while use of green roofs, podium landscapes and green walls will continue to grow in the buoyant landscape sector as the house-building push, particularly in London, leads to more pressure on ground-level urban green spaces.

Whatever the year brings, we wish all our readers, a happy and successful New Year.

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