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HortiTrends Weekly News & Comment - Garden Centre Catering & Garden Press Events - Positivity in the Air - 11th Feb

We have had a very positive response to the our new trade journal HORTICULTURE CONNECTED so far and are already working on your feedback for the April edition. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed. We are committed to improving the content by investing your subscription fees back into creating a magazine that will be both informative for everyone who is passionate about horticulture whilst also being a useful business tool. Sign up for a Paid Subscription HERE if you really suphort what we are trying to achieve. Ideas and comments to Barry Lupton - editor@horticulture.ie

Judging by the high turnout at last Saturdays GLDA yearly seminar, there is definitely a bounce back of sorts happening for the design community. Quoting one designer "Never had a busier January," the overall mood was a mix of positivity and cautious optimism. The attendee numbers had more than doubled up on last years numbers and an excellent line up of presenters from Ireland and across the water kept the crowd engaged for the whole day.

There are 3 other events this month that will be a good barometer of how much positivity is really out there. Rentes Spring Fair is first out of the block on the 18th of February. Trolley Fair NI and the IHNSA Trolley Fair follow and it will be important for garden centres, landscapers, designer and local authorities to get out on the ground to meet these growers. So much happens on-line now that these face to face meetings are invaluable for both growers and retailers to cement existing relationships and hopefully make new ones. If what we are all hoping for really happens, i.e a sustainable recovery, then in order for nurseries to have the confidence to increase production, the garden retail plant buyers should come out in force.

Tomorrow in Coventry I will be finding out Why Tea is Causing A Stir in Cafes at the HTA Garden Centre Catering Conference. Rather than being a 'nice to have' for your garden centre, it is becoming the expected norm for many customers. At the very least a good cup of coffee and home baked cake should be achievable for everyone. We will be finding out what the latest trends for the garden retail foodies are and reporting back to you next week.

On Sunday on my 'day off' I just happened to visit two plant centres. The first stop was the new Horkans centre on the site of the old Paul Sexton garden centre at the Glen of the Downes. The Horkans have produced, what I would describe as a comprehensive makeover on a sensible budget. Careful selection of materials, good sign-age plus a well stocked plant area has produced a centre that could become a major destination garden centre due to its close proximity to Dublin. No cafe yet, but what they did have was a decent looking coffee machine which most customers had taken advantage off. A chilly day but with a warm coffee in hand, customers seemed quite contented as they perused the plant selection outside. No complicated tills to pay for your hot drink either, just an honesty bucket looking for a fair price of €2. Like I said no excuse for any size of garden centre not to offer a decent coffee these days.

Also I visited a spick and span looking Pavilion Garden Centre at Powerscourt. The impressive building still looks quite new even though it is over 10 years old now. One of the first of this style to be built in Ireland it has been replicated by others across the country. The staff and management were busy stocking, ordering, assisting customers and preparing for a meeting of the steering group for the upcoming International Garden Centre Congress. The Pavilion in its beautiful setting of the Powerscourt gardens, has rightly been selected as part of the official tour for the congress attendees.

On Thursday it's off to London for the Garden Press Event. Close to 80 of the leading suppliers to the garden retail sector will be showcasing new lines and trying to influence and convince over 200 garden media people, that they and their product are the 'next big thing' for garden retail.