National Plant Show’s new plant awards - sustainability at the forefront

Judges from the horticultural industry will evaluate entrants for the New Plant Awards the day before the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) National Plant Show (June 20, 2022) and one sponsor says sustainability may be prominent this year.

Following the HTA’s competition rules, the judges must look at plant quality, suitability for the market and improvements and/or originality compared with currently available similar plants.

Terri Jones, Managing Director at Joy of Plants, who is sponsoring the New Plant Award, said: “The judges for 2022 are Laura Jackson, General Manager of Swarkestone Nursery & HTA Council Member for East Midlands, Andy Smith, Head of Buying at Klondyke Strikes Garden Centres, Chris Young, Editor of The Garden magazine and Jane Moore, Head Gardener at The Bath Priory, TV presenter, writer, lecturer and garden designer.

“I wonder whether this year there will also be comments from the judges about sustainability, following industry trends and concerns – how much water the plant will likely need, whether it will perform well in peat free and free draining compost, how drought, downpour and pest resistant it is.

“Crucially, plants must be ‘new’, that is they must not have been commercially available before January of 2022 or have been entered in new plant competitions prior to the National Plant Show. This part of the judging happens weeks before the show and will be done by myself, as the New Plant Award sponsor.

“It’s sometimes quite hard to tell whether a plant is ‘new’ or not. A plant can be available from a breeder many years before it is actually available to buy in garden centres in the UK.

“The variety may first be given to young plant growers like Seiont Nurseries, or other growers who take on new varieties, companies like Wyevale Nurseries, Bransford Webbs and Fairweather's Nursery. They may grow trial quantities of a plant for a period of time and you might see some of these ‘trial’ plants on their stands at shows if they are looking for a bit of initial feedback from their peers.

“It’s only after a new plant can be grown reliably at volume with the desired quality that they can be made commercially available. And it’s at that point the plant is ready to be entered into the New Plant Awards.”

The awards provide a valuable role in raising awareness of new plants in the trade, and giving breeders and growers the critical feedback they need from judges and visitors alike.

Terri continued: “Looking back through my records of judging from previous years I’d pick these characteristics as ones that tick boxes for the judges every time – great colour, novelty in colour or habit, how the plant looks in a pot on a sales shelf (is it good-looking and fulsome, a good-sized plant with sales appeal?), a marketable name that’s easily memorable, a genus of plant that’s a favourite for consumers, plants that are edible and ornamental, and of course compactness and suitability for container growing on patios and balconies.

“I can’t wait to see all the new varieties in real life. Fortunately, I’m on stand 98 just next to the New Plant Awards, so I’ll easily be able to get over and see them all! We’ll have our Plant Finder touchscreen kiosks and bed cards on display, showing how retailers are being supported to sell the best plants from last year’s show with online plant information and point of sale. And all this year’s New Plants in the Awards will be added too, after the Show.

“I’d encourage everyone who can to come to the show, as it’s a fantastic opportunity to see the best new plants coming from growers all over the UK and to meet the people who bring them to us.”

Joy of Plants’ mission is to make plant information easy and accessible to all. It has created a library of more than 15,300 UK garden plants and trees and offers a platform of tools to help garden centres, retailers, growers and breeders maximise their plant sales and income.

It provides this information in many products including an Image and Text Library for ecommerce sites, a Plant Finder for websites and Touchscreen Kiosks, and print on-demand Bed Cards.

For more information:
Joy of Plants
07717 532 323

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