Keep an Eye on the Trends

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Keep an Eye on the Trends

By John Stanley Chelsea Flower Show may be the most famous garden show in the world but the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the biggest. The show is held every year at “the palace” on the outskirts of London. This year it ran from 8th-13th July. What I like about this show is that there are more garden designers exhibiting then at Chelsea and therefore you have more of an opportunity to identify the trends in the marketplace. The gardens are split up into various groupings; conceptual gardens, small gardens, water gardens, inspiring spaces and large show gardens. The Daily Mail Garden Pavilion also has three purpose built houses complete with gardens. This year there was one major and obvious trend. Over recent months I have been promoting the edible landscape and edible gardens at Hampton Court showed that the trend has actually arrived. Forget the vegetable garden, vegetable and fruit plants are being incorporated into the full garden design. More than one clever garden designer has managed to integrate the patio with a landscaped vegetable garden and the results were stunning. The challenge for the retailer is to take these ideas and incorporate them into a retail package for the consumer. I hope this pictorial walk around Hampton Court will inspire you to look at how you can build display gardens in your garden centre to show your consumers you are keeping up with the trends. 1. Scarecrow competitions could work in your garden centre At the entrance to the show there was a selection of decorated scarecrows which were designed and planted by school children. This is part of the RHS campaign for school gardening. This is a great way of getting school children involved. As a garden centre you could network with your local schools and develop a similar promotional campaign. 2. Garden Explorers The Dorset Cereals Edible Playground was created by Dorset Cereals Ltd and designed by Nick Williams-Ellis. It showed how schools could develop a small kitchen garden for growing, learning and eating. The Edible Playground was launched in 2007 by Screen Bites, Dorset Film Festival. I am coming across numerous Nursery Associations and Garden Centres that are now networking with schools to create vegetable gardens. This not only is a teaching resource, but it encouraged parents to get involved both at school and at home which must be good for the industry as well as the children. 3. Green Walls Green roofs and green walls are becoming increasingly more popular. Green walls were very much in evidence at the show. Retailers need to start thinking about how they are going to start selling wall and roof kits. The opportunity exists and these items will become more popular. 4. Cabbage as a Bedding Plant The vegetable is now a bedding plant and is being used as living edible decorations around the patio. Consumers need to see examples of this in your garden centre to give them ideas and confidence in using vegetables as bedding plants. 5. Conceptual Gardens Consumers love to see “dare to be different” concepts and the conceptual gardens are a great example of what you can achieve in your garden centre. Be prepared to go out and shock your customers. They may not agree with you, but it will get them talking about you. 6. Conceptual Containers I love this idea of planting in sacks. How they would be handled and shopped to and from a garden centre, I’m not sure, but it is a great example of sustainable gardening. Trends Action Plan 1. Bring the vegetables and fruit to the front of your plant area. 2. Start garden classes on how to landscape with vegetables. 3. Involve local schools as part of your promotional campaign. 4. Start developing sales opportunities for green walls and roofs. 5. Build some “dare to be different” displays.