Your Wildlife Gardening Gateway

 The Horticulture Trade

...bringing nature closer to home

By Becky Groves                             Reviewed by Steve Head

 

According to the Horticultural Trades Association, the overall gardens and gardening industry in Britain is worth some £9 billion per year, and employs 280,000 people. The UK garden retail industry was worth £4.6 billion in 2010, serving nearly 23 million households with gardens.  In comparison, according to Defra’s 2012 report, total farming income in the UK in 2011 (a poor year for farmers) was £4.70 billion, and employment was 434,000.  

 

The horticulture industry (which of course makes a great deal of money from catering and “life-style” sales as well as selling plants and garden equipment), is a major player in the UK economy, and highly influential in people’s choice of plants and aspirations for their gardens.  The Wildlife Gardening Forum is keen to work with plant nurseries and garden centres, to help widen gardener’s choice of wildlife-friendly plants, and to provide practical guidance on planting and management.  This page, written by a Bridport nursery manager is aimed at retailers who wish to promote wildlife gardening within their outlets.

 

Promoting wildlife gardening in your garden centre:

 

Wildlife is a part of every one of your customer’s gardens and in recent years gardeners have become increasingly keen to attract it to their gardens.  Although a small number of wildlife species may be unwelcome, seeing most garden wildlife gives great pleasure to your customers and provides another dimension to their garden.

Plants & products

Helping your customers to choose plants and products that either attract wildlife or at the least do not harm them will give your garden centre or nursery the opportunity to widen the type and number of customers that use it.  It gives you the opportunity to put a different marketing slant on products and plants that you probably stock already and doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to stock new products.

The tables below list a simple selection of plants or products that you could promote as beneficial for wildlife during the different seasons of the year so you can keep interest going all year round:

 

 

Spring Promotions:

Summer Promotions:

Potted spring bulbs with single flowers e.g. crocus, snow drops, English bluebells, alliums, muscari, winter aconite

Cottage style bedding plants such as cosmos, nicotiana, pot marigold, heliotrope, stocks, cornflowers

Aubretia

Lavender (French & English)

Erysimum

Thymes & Oreganos

Pulmonaria

Nepeta

Ribes sanguineum

Helenium

Skimmia japonica

Buddleia

Wildflower seed mixes

Hebe

Wildbird Care

Honeysuckle

 

Echinops

 

Aquatic plants such as marsh marigold, watermint, purple loosestrife, water forget-me-not

 

Autumn Promotions

Winter Promotions

Autumn planting bulbs with single flowers such as crocus, snow drops, English bluebells, alliums, muscari, winter aconite

Winter Heathers

 

Sweet Williams

Single Hellebores

Asters

Ilex

Rudbeckia

Sarcococca

Echinacea

Clematis cirrhosa cultivars

Sedum

Wildbird care

Soft fruit bushes

 

Bare rooted native hedging

 

Wildflower seed mixes

 

 

Other products for year round sales include peat-free composts, recycled pots, organic plant food, organic pesticides including slug control, Enviromesh and netting for fruit cages.

 

Labelling & Point of sale material
Many customers now find it useful to know which plants are good for wildlife.  If the layout of your centre or nursery allows, this can be done by having a designated area or bench from which you sell wildlife friendly plants.  Or it can be done by adding extra information to your existing point of sale material. 
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have created a logo which can be used to indicate to customers that a plant is good for pollinating plants.  They have also made a list of many of the plants that have been recorded to be beneficial for invertebrates that pollinate plants (such as bees & butterflies).  This list and the logo is free of charge and is available from the RHS Website.
 
The Plants for Pollinators logo can be used to help sell any of the plants on that designated list which has been compiled from scientific evidence, so should not be used for any other plants.  For guidelines about using the logo please click on this link.
 

If you would like to purchase the logo as signage then it can be bought through Floramedia or Hortipak. 

Selling native wildflowers

Although native wildflowers are not essential to bring wildlife to a garden, they are attractive and interesting plants that are obvious choices to sell when promoting wildlife gardening. If you have not stocked them before, it is a good idea to start with some of the showiest species such as ox eye daisy, red campion and meadow cranesbill.

Having a limited selection, which flower for a long period and which you are able to keep looking good is important to keep your stock looking appealing.  They can be displayed in their own dedicated section or can be mixed in with other perennials. Provenance of the wildflowers may be important to your customers, so it is a good idea to ask your supplier where they have sourced their seed or plugs from. Using suppliers that source their seed or plugs from the UK will can help you to tick all the boxes for your customers. Your customers may also prefer for them to be grown in peat-free compost.

Staff knowledge and Events

Along with selling and marketing these plants and products, you and your customers will get the most out of the wildlife gardening theme if you also have staff who are interested and informed. You can point such people to this website which has a good selection of easy to read and scientifically accurate information.  However, if none of your current staff are interested there are many organisations that can help you.  Conservation organisations such as local Wildlife Trust or Butterfly Conservation are often keen to work with garden centres and are happy to come along to help run events. If you invite them to an event, they could help answer customer questions for you.

Nick Baker launching “Eating Caterpillars” at Groves Nursery