I recently stopped by GLEE Birmingham, the UK’s leading garden and outdoor living trade show, taking place at Birmingham’s NEC Arena, during June, a change to usual years.
I adore trendspotting, and trade shows are a great place to do this, as exhibitors are showing off their wares and services to industry insiders before they roll out to the public. At GLEE, there were so many new products and innovations to spot – I was spoilt for choice!
The show featured eight different sectors for exhibitors:
- Food & catering
- Garden care
- Home, gift & clothing
- Landscaping & garden redecoration
- Outdoor entertaining
- Retail experience
Of course, I spent lots of time amongst the plants and hot items, but each of the other sectors were equally engaging and exciting! From plants for pets, to fortifying ‘houseplant tonic’, here’s what I found at this year’s show…
Urban Farm It had a fascinating range of ‘grow your own exotic mushrooms’, the oyster mushrooms look super cool, and I have my eye on using some as make-believe bacon! The company are doing a great job of their marketing and graphics, I am loving the black background to the boxes. Inside the kit, you have everything you need except the spores, but those are sent to you fresh once you apply. These should yield much better results too, meaning that ‘bacon’ treat isn’t far away…
Dianthus ‘Garden Pleasures’ are just that. They have everything you would want from a Carnation/Pink, with lovely long stems for cutting, yet plants are strong and not too tall in the border. Likewise, they dazzle in pots and window boxes. My favourite was this red/white one, which I have already nicknamed ‘domino’ in my head!! Coming soon to the UK, from breeding company Volmary.
Clematis Lavallee is from New Leaf Plants, and the name means valley, celebrating that beautiful white centre marking. Its a Florida species type, which means easy grow, easy prune, and a compact shape which isn’t going half way down the garden and into the neighbours shed (we’re looking at you, montana!!)
Love Tillys company are doing some amazing work with air plants, and these shell creations are just fabulous. Don’t even mention they look a bit 80’s, cos for me that’s totally what makes them look cool! ADORE.
Anglo Aquatic Plant really got me excited about pond plants, and I especially loved their mixed planters, with something for everyone, from marginals to oxygenators! The quality was exceptional, and a total inspiration for anyone who wants to start ‘growing underwater’!
‘Fence Buddy’ is an excellent way of bringing a climber onto a dull fence, but without the need for drills, nails and all that DIY stuff (which I famously not good at!) It simply fixes onto the top the fence, and is fully adjustable, and then extends down to give a gorgeous backdrop (and support) to any climbing or upright plants.
An old favourite given a new breath of life, the Flower Tower is delightfully simple, as are the best inventions! Free-standing or fix against the wall to re-imagine plain red brick walls and the like!
Nifty little scissors, which don’t look that different on first glance. But, they are herb scissors!! Just check out the extra blade cutters, just between the handles. They are for stripping the leaves from hardwood herbs such as rosemary!
A brilliant invention for ensuring plants are well-watered from the ground up! I think I would find this particularly useful for establishing trees and shrubs, with moisture getting down to the root, where it’ll be needed the most. Fill the pots up, and just sit back while the water permeates through the terracotta. From Bio Green, who have a vast range of gardening solutions.
This is so rustic and beautiful, I was imagining all sorts of plants grasping the rope twines! Brand new to the marketplace, and probably the most natural looking of any trellis I have seen!
A quick chat with Mark of Empathy Rootgrow and I learnt a lot about fertilisers and plant feed. Their bio stimulant houseplant feed is new to the marketplace, with sustainably sourced seaweed, trace elements and amino acids. I think the whole range is destined for great things tbqf!
I was super excited to see this, especially as we had only just written about pet buffet plants on the plant geek website! Grow plants poorly to get eaten by your pets, sound ok to you?? Budgies, cats, rabbits and gerbils can all be happy, and it’ll keep them away from the things you don’t want them to eat too!
Dressing a fence with plant colour can be hard work, and I certainly don’t have the patience to wait for plants to grow (ironic I know!)… but this little fixer can be placed anywhere, and the pot easily hooks on, and the weight of the plant and compost is no problem at all. From the innovation team at Clever Pots, who have many other nifty little ideas!
I fell in lover with colour palette, so much so that I kept circling the stand like a weird commercial stalker. Capi Europe has burst into our garden centres in recent years, with attractive pots with a lovely rustic x modern hybrid feeling to them! This colour isn’t available yet, but I will stalk them and make sure we don’t all have to wait tooooo long!
The best of any vegetable planter I have seen, tbqf. This is simple, looks easy to put together (phew!) and is just the right height to be comfortable. It also looks cool and contemporary too. From the team at Grow Sow Simple,.
The WillSow team are really developing a nice brand, of sowable books! Brilliant for big and small kids, they’re had a recent re-design, which ties in the characters, plus there are greetings cards on the way too!
PlantSmith are going from strength to strength, with their tonics and potions! Now in smaller sizes, I’ve got my eye on these for stocking fillers, for all those plant lovers (the only friends I have tbqf!)
And, finally, something cute from the team at FarGro! Valentine’s gift perhaps?
What’s your favourite trend from the show?
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.