This is a big week; this is the week of the IPM. In Essen, Germany, it’s one of the best horticultural trade shows, and a real tonic in the darker months of January. I’m here all week, reporting on my findings, and sharing with you all!
My day started in the centre of the city, in my gently hipster hotel, the Motel One. At the buffet, I was greeted by hard-boiled eggs, decorated with cute marker pen, depictions of rabbits, to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the weekend. I helped myself to the buffet, and started to load up on German coffee, with my favourite, the creamy milk. I got my first taste of German efficiency when the waitress cleared away my yoghurt, before I started eating it! She must have spotted me getting a second one, because she came over to apologise profusely!
The IPM show is on the outskirts of the city, but when I’m here, I always like to walk. It’s 48 minutes door-to-door, but it’s my chance to get in 2 hours of fitness each day! It kind of offsets all the Bratwurst. Dear reader, I will mention German sausage many times this week, so you better be ready for it.
I was cordially invited to the press conference today, and made my way to the press centre, where I met the team. Everyone was so friendly, and bouncy, and excited to have their first IPM in three years. There was a real positive vibe around the place!
Everything was so professionally laid out as well, I had my own little workstation, with coffee, apple juice, different types of water, and a headset with the all-important headphones, so I could have everything translated into my ear. My one year of studying German as only left me with a few words such as wunderbar and auf wiedersehen.
As the CEO, Oliver Kuhrt, introduced the day, he remarked, that horticulture feels like one big family, and I think he has really hit on something here. It’s a lovely industry to work in, and really quite small, once you’ve been to a few trade shows.
He also commented that the mood is optimistic, despite economic problems during recent times. There were 46 countries set to exhibit this year, across almost 1500 exhibits. Visitors from most countries were coming back to the show, but with Asia lagging a little bit behind, although hopefully we are seeing some changes there now. At the show, he continued, you would experience plants, soils, fertiliser, lifestyle, floriculture, irrigation, lighting, and so much more.
New to the show this year; the innovation centre, where new ways of displaying plants and using them are showcased. There is a real focus on biodiversity and making cities greener. It’s all about helping the buyer to find the solutions that will help consumers.
There is also a new concept store, which is an inspiration zone. It’s all about the accessories that garden centres might also consider buying, from bath bombs to artisan gins. A very different area of the show, but one that was very interesting.
Klaus Gotz, from the Association of German florists, commented that consumers are cutting back, but there is always space for buying plants and flowers, because many consumers are convinced of the feelgood benefits. People have a chance to forget their negative feelings when they’re around flowers.
He said there are challenges we need to face, as the consumer assumes automatically that horticulture is sustainable, but this is not always the case. Florists are the last link in the chain, and it’s hard for them to influence other parts of the chain, in order to help sustainability, and make the right changes.
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Read all about plant and gardening trends at IPM Essen 2023 over on my Substack, where I’m posting every day from the trade show! It’s free to subscribe.
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.