The International Trade Fair for Plants, Horticultural Technology and Landscape Architecture Green is Life , which dates back to 1993, was held in Warsaw (Poland) from August 31 to September 2. The organizers – the Polish Nurserymen Association and the Agencja Promocji Zieleni (Greenery Promotion Agency) – had thus the occasion to celebrate the 30th birthday of this industry event, which coincided with the period of dynamic changes occurring both regionally and globally. Therefore, the anniversary was used to reflect not only upon the past, tradition, and previous achievements but also, even more thoroughly, to think about the future of the green industry. The fair was run under the slogan "New times – new challenges," with which the topics of the extensive program of the exhibition events corresponded.
Green is Life – thirty years have passed
At the opening ceremony of Green is Life 2023, the fair's director, Joanna Filipczak, thanked the participants of the green industry for the three decades of their trust and fruitful cooperation. She stressed that the exhibition was born as the initiative of just a few passionate people and has developed into an international, widely recognized major event.
Wiesław Szydło, the chairman of the Polish Nurserymen Association, reminded that 30 years ago, Green is Life gathered 25 exhibitors, but the event was quickly growing year by year. He mentioned its current strengths, like the stability (it will surely take place in a fixed place – the Warsaw Expo XXI Center, at a fixed time) and the beauty provided by attractively displayed plants during their lush vegetation period.
Exhibitors – from eleven countries
The fair was attended by 159 exhibitors from 11 countries: Poland, as well as Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Lithuania, and the Netherlands.
As usual, plants for gardens and landscapes formed the core of the exhibition, with 66% of the participants showing them. Other sections of the fair that stood out in terms of space occupied were "Techniques, technologies, sales support" and "Equipment, materials, decorations."
Visitors – from various directions
The fair was visited by around 9,600 people, 5,324 of whom were trade visitors (an 8% increase compared to last year). They came from 30 countries, among which Lithuania and Belarus are to be distinguished, while visitors from the Far East constituted a specific group this year.
It looks like more guests (from abroad) will show up next year, in part because of the planned visit of the AIPH members – the annual congress of this international horticultural organization will be held in Warsaw during the Green is Life fair.
As for the profile of professionals, the largest group among those visitors consisted of people who deal with landscape and small architecture, the construction industry as well as contractors (30.5%), followed by the next categories: plant production (29.6%), retail sales – garden centers, stores, markets (12.6%); government administration, offices, housing management (6.4%); floriculture, florists, cut flowers, potted plants (6%).
The interest in the exhibition was also generated by its accompanying events, such as the seminar "Knowledge for Trade and Producers" (held on Day 1) – attended by 264 people, the conference "Green City" (on Day 2 – 489 participants) or florist shows organized by the Wholesale Market "Bronisze."
Greenery, plants, novelties
From the perspective of 30 years, GREEN IS LIFE can be characterized by an increasingly (bio)diverse assortment of plants presented. First of all, many species and varieties of perennials, once almost absent at the exhibition, have appeared. Within this assortment, ornamental grasses are more and more popular, and their strong market position has been visible in 2023 too.
At present, however, the fair is dominated by deciduous shrubs. At the same time, in line with the current trends, conifers are on the declining side, although Poland is still a large producer, consumer, and exporter of this type of nursery stock. Consequently, such greenery was not to be missed at the stands in 2023 either.
Conifers also clearly marked their presence in the Plant Novelties Competition, which has been organized during Green is Lfe since 2004. They made up almost 1/3 of the 21 entries of the 2023 PNC's edition.
This year, two gold medals were granted in the contest. They were received by Szkółka Roślin Ozdobnych "Daglezja" Artur Maj – for Miscanthus sinensis' Silver Charm' PBR and by Szkółka Szmit – for Acer truncatum 'Volcano' PBR. Silver medals were handed to two exhibitors: Szkółki Kurowscy – for Spiraea japonica Double Play Doozie and Physocarpus opulifolius Panther, as well as to Szkółki Nowaczyk – for Thuja plicata' Golden Whipcord'. The bronze medal was given to Vitroflora for Anemone' Garden Breeze Pink Touch' PBR. In addition, the jury of the Plant Novelties Competition granted two special mentions – for Hydrangea macrophylla Pinky Binder® (submitted by Minier Professional Solutions) and for Nepeta' Cats Pajamas' PBR (from Gospodarstwo Specjalistyczne Panek Dariusz Panek).
The Journalists' Award – from voters representing Polish and foreign media – praised Miscanthus sinensis' Silver Charm' PBR.
The winner of the Internet voting, conducted among a wide online audience, was Phlox paniculata 'Skubianka' PBR, entered by OGRODY O ZIELONYCH PROGACH Przemysław Godlewski - Szkółka bylin.
The good tradition of arranging a show garden in front of the Expo XXI Center (which hosts Green is Life) returned this year after a few-season break. The 2023 garden received great attention. It fulfilled decorative purposes but, above all, presented specific solutions in landscape architecture from which both professionals and non-professionals could benefit.
The garden, named "Permeation of Space," was created by Gardenphilia.com Ltd. and their cooperating partners. The main idea of the arrangement was the climate change challenge. The area was divided into two zones – the residential and the urban areas. Carefully selected plants, materials, textures, and colors formed a harmonious composition and made a good place for visitors to rest and relax.
Time of turning points and challenges
The 2023 Green is Life slogan "New times – new challenges" is associated with a sequence of events of recent turbulent years, starting with the coronavirus pandemic, followed by the war in Ukraine along with geopolitical turmoil, and ending with economic difficulties. For a large group of Polish nurserymen, the current priority is still to look for alternatives to Eastern European markets. Trade fairs, such as Green is Life, are a place to meet potential new customers and may allow the diversification of export destinations.
Rising labor costs and recruitment shortages have also become a concern for entrepreneurs, who include plant growers. This issue was dealt with in a lecture entitled "Technique and technology in response to labor shortages in production," which – during the seminar Knowledge for trade and producers – was presented by Peter Morrenhof of Delphy. Some of the machines he touched upon, i.e., robots used in horticultural production, seminar attendees were able to check out at the booths of exhibitors, such as HariTech.
Today's challenges are also related to climate change and thus, the need for ever-increasing concern about biodiversity. This theme, therefore, was the centerpiece of the GREEN CITY conference, which, as always, addressed the current issues and needs of the industry, providing "pro-nature" solutions.
The well-known British designer Noel Kingsbury presented "Green Areas of the Future." In his lecture, he focused on a new trend – biodiverse beds, which are established on poor mineral, sandy, or gravel substrates, in order to reduce the overall expenses of maintenance and care of such amenity plantings. This solution, at the same time determines the certain selection of plant species, different from the currently prevailing ones.
During the same forum, the debate on the biggest challenges for landscape architects, contractors, and nursery stock suppliers was not to be missed. "We will continue interdisciplinary activities and even more effectively aim at them," – emphasizes Joanna Filipczak, summarizing this year's fair and Green City conference. "We keep on engaging private and public developers as well as the construction sector into our activities clustered around the 'Green is Life' brand so that it is obvious not only for our industry that 'there is no investment without greenery.' Tightening cooperation seems the only logical approach in case of overlapping disciplines in which plants (nursery stock) are involved.