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UK: Local award winner amongst prizes at South West Growers Show

An impressive display of innovative new technology and striking new plant varieties took central stage amongst a plethora of impressive exhibits from across the UK during the 44th South West Growers Show (SWGS), the only trade event in the region aimed at growers and plant buyers from local authorities, garden centres and retailers.

The heavily contested award categories saw some popular wins in three categories. The Best New Plant Introduction, sponsored by Commercial Greenhouse Grower, was picked up by Ball Colegrave for Dragon’s Breath Celosia, while the Best New Plant Product or Service went to ICL for its unique wetting and water conservation agent H2Gro, now available in liquid formulation. The award was presented by sponsors, Commercial Horticultural Association.

A popular winner on the day was Honiton, Devon based Trim Plants, with owner Terry Trim picking up the award for the Best Nursery Stand for his impressive display, including a range of shrubs, herbaceous, grasses, climbers and conifers.

Dragon’s Breath Celosia from Ball Colegrave features unique green-red foliage and blazing-red, long-lasting flowers. Quick, easy and economical to produce with minimal need for PGRs and fertiliser, retailers also like it for its long shelf life and adaptability. It is great in containers, beds and planting schemes.

H2Gro from ICL has been launched in liquid formulation at SWGS to aid growers in the management of increasingly erratic rainfall patterns, help reduce water usage and guard against plant stress. ICL also celebrated 50 years of nutrition excellence with its Osmocote controlled release fertiliser (CRF).

Adam Ferjani, ICL’s marketing communications manager, explained, “The Osmocote brand continues to evolve thanks to innovative new technologies and an increasing level of applied scientific horticultural knowledge.”

The judges, Sally Drury of Horticulture Week, Richard Harnett of Kernock Park Plants and David Jackson, chairman of South West Growers Show Committee, had a tough job on the day, with the standard of entrants particularly high this year.

This was reflected in the level of entries, with three exhibitors highly commended in each of the award categories. Neil Alcock at Seiont Nurseries was particularly pleased to be recognised, with the new Doodia aspera “Rough Ruby”, picking up the highly commended certificate for Best New Plant Introduction. “Rough Ruby” is a beautifully coloured, British bred compact fern growing 25-30cm, displaying glorious maroon colours.

Sinclair’s Pot Topper was also highly commended in the Best New Plant Product or Service category. This superior alternative to bark is ideal for mulching beds and borders. Produced in the UK using sustainable 100 per cent FSC certified virgin wood chips, it is 75 per cent more effective at weed control than bark, and offers 50 per cent more coverage.

The Gedney Bulb Company from Spalding, Lincolnshire was also highly commended for its impressive “Colourful Garden” display featuring a range of herbaceous, alpines and potted bulbs with bespoke labels.

Other highlights at the show included Melcourt’s new SylvaGrow Organic growing medium. Certified by the Soil Association and endorsed by RHS, SylvaGrow Organic is a genuine organic range based on its Melcourt professional equivalent, widely used by professional organic growers throughout the UK.

Agralan’s range of Birchmeier sprayers, and in particular the new generation of battery-powered sprayers, drew much attention during the day. Super-ceding Birchmeier’s motorised range, the Li-on battery powered sprayers are virtually maintenance free, require no fuel mixing and refilling and offer sufficient power capacity to spray all day.

Vitax also enjoyed a busy day on the joint stand with Hortifeeds. In particular, the Vitapot biodegradable pot range and extensive range of quality composts were popular. The Hortifeeds team were on stand to promote the Hortifeeds range of fertilisers, manufactured and supplied for horticultural professionals.

David Jackson, chairman of the event and a busy judge on the day, commented. “Each year we are impressed with the quality of new ranges and products on display, but the breadth and diversity on show this year was truly outstanding.

“I would like to congratulate all of the winners and those highly commended on the day, but that is not to take away from all of our exhibitors who shared in making the event a great showcase for the UK industry.”

The impressive displays were complemented with an informative seminar programme. Alistair Whybrow, plant health and seed inspector at APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) presented an informative and through-provoking talk on Xylella fastidiosa and other relevant pests, diseases and plant health issues.

Discussing potential threats, Mr Whybrow reiterated the need to remain vigilant and also highlighted the important role the hobby gardener can play in identifying pests unfamiliar to them. This is often the first warning sign for new threats reaching the UK.

Clive Pearson from XL Pro-Bio described the benefits of using good biology in both growing media and sports profiles, and why and how other products should be applied to achieve a healthy plant. Clive’s talk was followed by a highly constructive question and answer session, giving delegates the opportunity to discuss particular applications and individual concerns.

The seminar programme was rounded off by Andrew Wilson, ICL’s professional horticulture technical manager, delivering a 30-minute talk entitled, “An holistic approach to plant production.” The seminar explored precision nutrition and how new technology can match plants demands to inputs, while minimising environmental impact.

“We were delighted to see so many new and familiar faces at this year’s event,” concluded David Jackson. “Certainly, the introduction of the landscape, amenity and turfcare section of the event attracted a wider audience, and there was much to see and hear from some of the leading growers, manufacturers and suppliers in the industry.”

Details on all exhibitors are available from the event website at or by contacting the event team at
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