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Report from B&Q Press Day

The tour of cool London venues courtesy of B&Q continued on Thursday with their latest press show being held at The Hospital in Covent Garden – a private members club for people in the creative industries.

Unfortunately the event was held in a fairly unremarkable room on ground level so there wasn’t an opportunity to poke about the swishy-looking rooms hidden away on the seven floors of this nondescript building. Ah well, on with the more important gardening stuff…

On that front there wasn’t a great deal of new news this year. Many of the stories were similar to last – minus the excitement of a Chelsea garden.

A new brand ‘Verve’ has been created for their gardening products, which includes a new ‘Beginners’ range of seeds and a new range of peat free composts. Apparently growth of GYO fruit sales is ahead of GYO veg, with soft fruit and ‘superfruits’ still proving popular. Not particularly surprising perhaps given the trend for preserving and pickling and gardeners discovering the easy, perennial nature of most fruit plants.

I asked them about not selling Impatiens walleriana (Busy Lizzies) this year because of the downy mildew problem*, which got particularly bad in 2011 – you might have heard about this reported in other places. B&Q sell around 20 million Busy Lizzies a year (gulp!) but decided not to stock the plant in 2012 – both to give the industry a chance to deal with the problem and also because they don’t want to sell plants that are unlikely to perform in the garden.

They’re hoping to plug the gap mainly with begonias as well as petunias, marigolds and pelargoniums but admit it will be a question of informing and educating the public who tend to like what they know when it comes to bedding. Maybe this will encourage a few people to do something more worthwhile/interesting than to plant a whole patch of bedding in their gardens this summer? Here’s hoping.

Article published with thanks to GirlAboutGarden.
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20 January 2012
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