On 31 August and 1 September 2022, Fleuroselect welcomed more than 80 delegates to Munich (Germany) for the annual Home Garden Conference. The two-day program proved to be a unique opportunity for industry experts to learn about the latest trends in home gardening.
In close collaboration with Herbert Wehrle, Vice-Chair of the Fleuroselect Home Gardening Business Unit (B.U.), and Ralf Schräder of Graines Voltz, the program was carefully compiled to include both plenary sessions and company visits. The main theme - 'Small Space Gardening' - was evident in all aspects of the program, allowing for a well-rounded look into this highly relevant topic.
After the introduction of the main theme by Herbert Wehrle, trends and customer profiles in the German pictorial packet market were discussed by Rolf Pohlen from Bruno Nebelung. He explained that after 2020 and 2021 - when sales significantly increased for pictorial packets due to the COVID crisis - the market is now declining again due to the unstable political and economic climate. Representing the State Horticultural College and Research Institute Heidelberg, Vera Joedecke presented the results of her research into biodiversity in the city, focussing on the pollinator friendliness of annuals and perennials in an urban context. By performing a series of visual pollinator counts on selected ornamental crops, LVG has mapped which variety attracts which pollinators. The difference between native versus non-native plants as a food source for insects was studied. Florian Demling from the Bavarian State Department for Agriculture informed us about the latest public initiatives to support community gardens and home gardening in small spaces. In seven community gardens throughout Bavaria, the urban gardener is inspired by new techniques such as plant towers, mobile, and vertical gardening, raised beds, hydroponics, terra-bio-ponic, and aquaponics. Finally, Katrin Kell introduced Weihenstephan University and its industry-related activities. The university plays a leading role in educating the local recreational gardener by offering courses, guided tours, and information packages.
Despite the rain, delegates experienced an inspiring afternoon at Weihenstephan University. The trial garden, established in 1947, covers an area of more than five hectares and is used to test trees and shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and new varieties of roses in terms of their practical use. An important aspect is planting herbaceous perennials in ecologically harmonious and aesthetically pleasing combinations in ways that suit local conditions. Especially for this visit, Weihenstephan University grew various varieties of Salvia to inspire the delegation to include Fleuroselect's '2023 Year of the Salvia initiative in their marketing plans.
In the allotment garden, the focus is on the cultivation of vegetables and herbs being grown in a range of tried-and-tested and new varieties. Delegates found this to be exceptionally interesting to see, from classic vegetables and raised beds to horizontally constructed container systems with a diverse range of plants which can even be found on small balconies and terraces. Within the framework of Fleuroselect's '2022 Year of the Basil initiative, Weihenstephan University grew more than 40 Basil varieties for the delegation to admire and taste.
The second day of the Home Garden Conference was spent at Pflanzen Kölle in Munich. Over the past 200+ years, this family business has progressed to a chain of garden centers with 13 locations and three owned nurseries across Germany. The delegation was greeted by General Manager Michael Wittmann, who gave an overview of Pflanzen Kölle's history and current activities, after which Sustainability Manager Ulrike Rothhaar explained the group's vision toward organic and reduced-pesticide cultivation. Delegates received guided tours through the garden center, where the extensive pictorial packet assortment drew considerable attention. The group was allowed to visit the nursery, where part of the assortment is produced in-house.
Highly relevant lectures on urban gardening, superb plants in smaller spaces in the Weihenstephan Gardens, and first-hand retail information at Pflanzen Kölle: were the cornerstones of a successful Home Garden Conference.