Growbag Blog

Growbags at the Garden Press Event

What a privilege it was to be invited to the Garden Press Event in London – our chance to learn about horticultural innovations, review new products and have a good old chinwag with other lovely garden bloggers over cups of tea.

Elaine and I took our brief to look and learn quite seriously, I wish the same could be said about Caroline…

Elaine and Laura at Henchman
Whilst E and I were paying full attention to Clare’s description of Henchman’s latest ladder
Caroline at Henchman
…I’m afraid Caroline was behaving like an excitable child who’d consumed too many e-numbers as she was guided through a virtual tour of the new ladder by the long suffering Henchman technician

But even Caroline got properly engaged with one of the several new products that offered a shortcut for an inexperienced gardener to create a flower border in a foolproof planting-by-numbers approach.

Elaine and Caroline at Garden on a roll
With ’Garden on a Roll’ you receive a box of plants for a selected border style, which arrive with a full sized template that you can roll out to put each plant in the right place. A bit like ’Hello Fresh’ but with plants!

This idea was taken one step further in what promises to be a very fruitful new partnership by the National Trust with the Blue Diamond group of nurseries (whom Caroline initially thought made cement, until we explained that was Blue Circle – geometry was never her forte.)

On Blue Diamond’s excellent display stand ( which went on to be awarded ’Best Show Stand’) they explained how their four border styles were each based on a herbaceous border from a National Trust Property.

National Trust borders
You can choose to recreate the planting schemes of Nymans, Sissinghurst, Hill Top or Hidcote in your own garden.
National Trust borders
The plants arrive with a planting template and cultural instructions.

In what appears to be a definite trend, they’ve also launched two new National Trust-inspired selections of bulbs in a biodegradable cardboard container that you just sink into the soil and water.

Laura at GIMA
They’re shown being planted into the ground but I think they’d almost be better in a large pot on a sunny patio or balcony. A little cameo of Sissinghurst or Hidcote of your very own.

Excitingly the nursery has also been given access to the National Trust’s collection of heritage plants from which to propagate, and if Elaine hadn’t plonked herself in front of it at just the wrong moment I could have shown you a photo of a clone of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree.

Elaine at GIMA
You’ll just have to take my word for it that behind Elaine is a young apple tree grown from a graft taken from the tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton to develop the theory of gravity

Ever the practical gardener, Elaine was all over the garden tools range and was delighted when Fiskar gave her a set of pruning implements to trial.

Fiskar products GIMA
So many different pruning gadgets – Elaine will be like a pig in clover!

Quite rightly, sustainability was still a hot topic at the event, and Caroline returned from a solo foray to the Hortiwool stand, reporting back that you can use their natural sheeps’ wool pads to warm soil, line a hanging basket, as capillary matting, as a slug deterrent and even as birds’ nesting material. All the while supporting our British sheep farmers – a huge tick in our book!

Caroline breathlessly reported that you can perform practically any horticultural task using Hortiwool and she was going to send some to Jeremy Clarkson to stock in his shop.

And actually there was a specific use for wool on another stand that we all three signed up to give a go at home. Wool pots are….made of wool. They allow you to bring on a seed or bulb and when ready, plonk it in the soil outside whereupon the pot will root disturbance involved. We liked this idea.

Wool Pots at GIMA
We all loved these biodegradable flower pots made entirely from sheep’s wool

There was a fair smattering of gardening celebs cruising around and lovely Sue Kent from Gardeners World knew she had met us before but couldn’t quite recall our brand name so joyously hailed ‘oh look its the naughty sisters! ’ on spotting us – perfectly apt.

Sue Kent
We did look a bit different when we last bumped into Sue – in our best frocks at the Garden Media Guild Awards dinner.

Our final task at the event was to cast our votes for the best new product and I think you’ll agree that our choices reflected our general approach to horticulture – and probably to life in general!

Phytopthera kit GIMA
For me it was scientific innovation which allows you to give your plants a Covid style rapid test for the destructive Phytophthora fungus
Burgon and Ball perennial spade
Elaine’s choice had to be the beautiful new stainless steel spade for splitting perennials from Burgon and Ball
Caroline - bird feeder at GIMA
Oh dear – Caroline reverted to schoolgirl humour for her best new product with this ergonomically designed bird feeder.

All in all it was a fabulous day out with a real buzz about the gardening year ahead for all of us.
Many thanks to the Garden Industries Manufacturer’s Association (GIMA) and the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) for laying on the event and the Garden Media Guild (GMG) for securing our invitations.

Here are the links to the products we enjoyed at the event:

Henchman ladders (and as you browse their website you can play a ’Where’s Wally?’ game of spotting different Growbag sisters variously up ladders and pushing wheelbarrows 🤣)

That Garden on a Roll shortcut to a perfect border

The exciting collaboration between Blue Diamond (nursery, not cement … ) and the National Trust

The amazing range of Fiskars pruning tools

The multi-functional Hortiwool

Those sweet little Wool Pots

The groundbreaking rapid test for Phytophthora

Elaine’s beloved Burgon and Ball perennial spade

And finally here’s a link to those torpedo-shaped bird feeders from Peckish that tickled Caroline’s fancy!

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By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

4 replies on “Growbags at the Garden Press Event”

I love reading the blog of ‘the naughty sisters’ so thank you for all the ideas and inspiration.. I think the NT inspired planting schemes are a brilliant idea! My only warning would be that the Peckish product might be style over substance..we bought a huge bag of peckish instead of our usual RSPB mix and the birds here wouldn’t touch the stuff! ..what an ironic name.. and a complete waste of money!
Whilst I’ve got your expert ear ..will my pittosporum come back ? ..after the very cold weather one dropped every leaf and another has dropped most of them..I guess I should expect the worst?

Hello Sarah, so glad you enjoy our ramblings thanks for getting in touch with a cautionary note about the Peckish bird food – noted! As for the pittosporums, I’m afraid I’m pretty pessimistic. I’ve definitely lost all my precious specimens of Pittosporum tobira that I was growing in pots, and even the bigger pittosporum (can’t remember it’s name and I’m not nearly as good as Elaine at writing everything down) planted in the ground has lost all its leaves and the trunk and branches have turned a horrible colour. The two tests are usually 1. to try to snap a twig, if it snaps instantly you’re in trouble, if it’s still pliable there may be hope. 2. To scrape a little bark off with your fingernail. If it’s green underneath you’re usually ok, if it’s brown that’s not such good news. The general advice is to wait until the beginning of June before you give up completely but I’m not sure I can look at my moribund specimens for that long! Best wishes Laura

Entertaining and informative as always. Great to hear about horticultural wool products but please give it a star rating – we don’t want any ticks!!

Yes ticks and carpet moths definitely test one’s resolve to love all animals great and small don’t they Betsy! And yes it’s exciting to see wool being used for new products – its shameful that farmers are only getting pennies for a fleece. Especially since nothing beats the warmth and cosiness of a woolly jumper! Lots of love to you X

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