On the 16th February I had the pleasure of the attending the Garden Press Event in London, self quoted as ‘the only event of its kind aimed specifically for the industry to showcase the latest products and stories exclusively to the key names in the garden & home press and media’.
What an event Guy Burtenshaw has put together, alongside Richard Jackson, Chair of Greenfingers. An incredible opportunity for both key industry leaders and garden press and journalists to come together amongst a labyrinth of incredible products.
On a mission to inspire and change stereotypes as I was excited to see what products were coming to the market in 2017 and especially how fashion forward the leading product and gardening clothing brands are focused.
To get 15 – 30 year olds in particular excited and enthused about gardening and grow your own, products need to be practical but also fun, on trend and fashionable. Not forgetting easy! In a time full of exams, career progression and most likely partying, if we want this generation to get involved it needs to be made simple.
After talking to nearly every company I was delighted to see that they are certainly making impressive headway!
I announced the soon to be launched next chapter of Life at No.27, receiving great feedback and support all round. Making me even more excited for the months ahead and sharing it with you.
I will be featuring many of the great products viewed at the event as they are launched over the coming months, but for now I wanted to share my top 5 highlights of the day with you. Some very exciting products and some pure moments of complete joy.
In no particular order;
No.1 – Thrive – using gardening to change lives.
Thrive is a UK charity using gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.
As a huge advocate of using to gardening to improve and support health, in particular mental health due to my past highlighted in a previous post, it was great to chat with Alyson from Thrive at great lengths about the services they provide. Improving people’s health whist also enabling them to develop new skills, learn about food growing, gain more confidence and also possibly a qualification in horticulture and get a job. Through their therapeutic programmes they do incredible work.
Couple of facts I learnt:
– In 12 months, they receive almost 3,000 enquiries by phone and email asking for advice
– 542 students trained in social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) via their national short course programme
– Lastly a scary one that I can relate to and really hit home with me; at least one in four British adults will experience some kind of mental health problem in any one year, with prescriptions for anti-depressants at record levels.
When I was battling I wish I had known about Thrive and the opportunities available. Now I can do my bit though by following the charity on Twitter at @thrivecharity, donating and also volunteering at their gardens in London, Reading, Birmingham and Gateshead.
l will be visiting the Reading gardens later in the year both to volunteer and visit their open days running in the Summer.
No.2 – Heinz Tomato Plant from the Rob Smith Range with Dobies.
The Tomato Heinz 1370 has been labelled by Dobies as ‘One of the first tomatoes developed by Heinz for their tomato ketchup’.
As I made my way to the combined Suttons and Dobies stand, many exciting new varieties caught my eye but none more than the tomato launch. How can you not get excited about a Heinz tomato plant? It has to be tried!
I was very lucky to be given one of the few plants they had on display and I can’t wait to nurture it and try the rich red fruits. Will they have the fantastic taste of Heinz? Time will only tell and I will keep you updated.
You can grow your own by purchasing the seeds via the Dobies website or purchasing as plants which are exclusive to Wyevale Garden Centres.
Let me know if you join me in trying to create your own Heinz ketchup. It’s a project perfect for kids!
No.3 – Kent & Stowe Carbon Steel Tools
As journalists and press arrived at the event, we were kindly given goodie bags full of lots of exciting surprises. One thing that really caught my eye and caused a skip in my step was the Kent & Stowe Hand Fork. Hard crafted with carbon steel prongs and a 10 year guarantee, it’s a beauty!
I’m excited to put it to use and through its paces, especially as I already own their Stainless Steel Long Handled Dutch Hoe which is an essential piece of my kit on No.27 especially in the Summer months. Makes keeping on top of the weeds a much easier job!
At the event, the brand were launching their incredible kids range which goes on sale in May, I fell in love instantly! No plastic imitations you usually see, they are exact carbon steel replicas of the adults range just on a miniature scale. A dream to look at and can be cherished for years.
As I receive more information on the range I will keep you updated and also share my views on the tools myself.
No. 4 – PlantGrow – Natural Fertiliser
As a big endorser of all natural and organic products, I was instantly intrigued as I set my eyes on the PlantGrow stand. As I learned more about the natural fertiliser and it’s agricultural back story I was keen to get my hands on both the liquid and solid versions. PlantGrow is the true entrepreneur and family story of Steve and Sarah Suggitt, who have created a feed made from plants for plants. No.27 produces great veg, but could PlantGrow improve their growth further and give me an even bigger bounty. I have to find out!
I have been warned that the smell is something special, but the best natural feeds are. Nose peg at the ready!
Find out more about PlantGrow and why plants need fertiliser here.
No.5 – Meeting Constance Craig Smith and Michael Perry aka Mr Plant Geek
The event was the first of many I will be attending this year and one I will be returning to for years to come. With intense excitement also comes nerves, so many thoughts ran through my over thinking mind about what to expect, how would people react to my views and highly energetic enthusiasm.
Within minutes all nerves disappeared when I ventured to the Garden Media Guild stand, saying hi to both of these beautiful faces and receiving the biggest hug from Constance, a gardening writer for Daily Mail. Some might react differently to me, but it set a smile on my face for the rest of day. The support of one women to another who have never physically met before but share the same excitement and passion.
Michael’s words that followed shortly after which I won’t share were wonderful too, a true gent spreading the same messages and values that I am trying to share so successfully across the public and schools today.
Thank you to you both!
Cutting my highlights down to five was extremely difficult, but hopefully they give you a great insight into the event and the developments within the gardening industry.
I will be sharing lots more information over the coming months from the event, so keep your eyes peeled and click ‘Follow’ if you haven’t already.
Is there anything you would like to see come to market within the gardening industry? What’s missing? Let me know your thoughts and ideas.