Getting behind the scenes in the flower industry

Have you ever wondered how and where we choose the plants you grow in your gardens at home? The Flower Trials in Holland and Germany are the most important few days in the horticultural trade calendar year, and buyers and retailers flock from around the globe to see what’s hot and what’s not!

During the Flower Trials week, 60 different breeding companies put on displays to show both their latest creations and their back catalogue of colourful plants. From Petunias to Portulaca, Alstroemeria to Ageratum, there’s something for everyone.

The experience is like going around car showrooms, as everything is lovely and shiny! You’ll see the very best displays, the salespeople will have their best outfits on, and you’ll often get to meet the creators too. The scene is also set for business, with floral seating areas and plenty of botanical snacks, and of course, coffee to fuel you up!

I flew in super early on the Tuesday, as I wanted to get around as much as possible. So, once I’d collected my Citroen Cactus (what else could a plant geek drive??), I was ready to roll, armed with the excellent navigation information the Flower Trials company, a camera and a notepad and pen..

Unfortunately, it’s a trade only event, HOWEVER the breeders are happy for me to show a sneak peek behind the scenes… After all, it is ‘the future of our gardens’! Here’s my guide to the best of 2018:

Most Interesting New Plant: Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’ by Selecta

Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’ by Selecta

Pastels and soft tones are alright, but us gardeners still love COLOUR! This Osteospermum didn’t just catch my eye, but it also impressed the judges, as it was awarded the ‘Fleurostar Award’ during the event too. Sun-loving, drought tolerant and with purple-blushed orange blooms, there’s nothing shy about this handsome specimen. My followers are already messaging me daily to ask where they can buy it!

Runners-up in this category:

Most Unique Retail Concept: Ornamenties by Takii

Ornamenties by Takii

Vegetable breeding has started to diversify to ensure harvests are both tasty AND attractive. Takii sum this up perfectly with their new ‘Ornamenties’ range, headed up by these coloured versions of Kale. Now the consumer won’t have to choose between ornamental and edible in their outdoor space.

Runners-up in this category:

Most Comfortable Seating Area: Beekenkamp

Sitting amongst the scented Begonia Dreams at Beekenkamp

The Flower Trials isn’t just a floral showcase, it’s also a networking opportunity. Comfort and product placement are the best combination for a successful seating area, as seen with the new fragrant Begonias at Beekenkamp.

Runners-up in this category:

Most Talked About Feature: Flowers and Colours at Ball Horticultural

Flowers and colours at Ball Horticultural

It’s almost as if they had Instagrammers in mind when they build this display. Super simple, but super effective blocks of colour on each wall gave extra life to the flowering specimens!

Runners-up in this category:

Best Giveaway Item: Salvia Mysty at Florensis

Giveaway plants of new Salvia Mysty by Florensis

A great way of getting samples into visitors hands is by giving away plants. These new Salvia caused quite a stir on the Florensis exhibit, but of course the proof is in the pudding. Buyers could take easily one home, thanks to the nifty carry handles included with the plant!

Runners-up in this category:

Best Revival of a Forgotten Plant: Impatiens ‘Imara’ plants at Syngenta Flowers

New, mildew-tolerant Busy Lizzies were a big hit on the Syngenta Flowers display

These new Impatiens are tougher than previous plants, and caused a big splash on the Syngenta Flowers exhibit. Now, that European favourite could be grown safely without risk of mildew on plants.

Runners-up in this category:

AND FINALLY…

The Best Snacks: These hand-rolled wraps at Sion Orchids

Tasty wraps at Sion Orchids

I don’t always have time to stop for lunch, so I was pleased to be offered a snack at Sion, even though it was 11am.  These wraps were tasty and neatly presented, thank you Sion!

Runners-up in this category:

If you’re involved in the horticultural industry, start organising your Flower Trials trip here.

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