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Behind the Headlines: IPM Essen

Every January, the largest annual Horticultural trade exhibition in the world is held in Essen, Germany. Here you can find 1577 exhibitors from 45 countries in 17 huge halls, with visitor numbers exceeding 57,000.

Here you can see everything to do with growing plants, from machines that sow seed or handle small plug plants to potting machines and pot handling systems. There are greenhouses, lights, feeding and watering equipment, composts and pots, transportation and wrapping systems as well as every kind of display material. There are also all kinds of plants from roses to orchids and trees to tomatoes. We particularly like the display of new plants that have been submitted for Awards. This includes cut flowers, indoor and outdoor plants - and there’s often a real gem here that you know will be popular in the UK. In 2013, this was where we spotted the new Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ for the first time when it won an Award - now you can find it everywhere.

This year, we were taken with several plants, including: - Anthericum ‘Starlight’ a variegated flowering lily grass, which is ideal for containers or smaller gardens. The growth is upright and compact and the pretty little white flowers are produced abundantly along arching stems.
- Hibiscus rose-sinensis HibisQs® Petit Orange is a compact and low-growing, bushy plant with bright orange flowers.
- Helleborus x glandorfii ‘Ice N’Roses’ is part of a series of hellebores with large, beautifully-marked blooms in a range of shades from deep red to pale pink (Below).

Not many British growers, manufacturers or retailers go to the show to exhibit or visit, which always seems a shame. This year, just 15 UK companies exhibited. Whetman Pinks, Fairweather’s, Guernsey (Raymond Evison) Clematis and David Austin Roses are amongst the companies who put in a regular appearance and they are invariably very busy. This is a show where deals worth millions can be done in a morning.

So why does this show matter to British gardeners? Simply because many of the products and plants here will make their way to the garden centres of the UK over the next 12 months. By going to this show we can stay ahead of the new trends and tell you about anything worth looking out for.

However, gardeners elsewhere (especially in Europe) tend to have a different attitude to plants and the design ideas at the show don’t necessarily translate to the British home. They are more imaginative with their use of both indoor and outdoor plants and get much less attached to them. There, a plant is thrown out and replaced when it when it stops looking good or they get bored with it, whereas here we tend to regard plants as part of the family. It will be interesting to see if this changes with a new generation who have grown up in the disposable age of cheap clothing and throwaway goods.

If you would like to see more of the show, go to www.ipm-essen.de

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