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Expert advice on what makes a winning plant area

9th February, 2024

Expert advice on what makes a winning plant area

After the winners of the Ruxley Rose Award, which we sponsored, were announced at the Garden Centre Association’s annual conference recently, we asked those involved what makes a winning plant area.

The winners

The Best Overall Plant Area Ruxley Rose Award went to Cowell’s Garden Centre in the Destination Garden Centre (DGC) Category and Squires Garden Centre, Hersham in the Garden Centre (GC) Category.

Cowell’s garden centre – Best plant area 2023 in the Destination Garden Centre category.
Squires garden centre, Hersham – Best plant area 2023 in the Garden Centre category.

Prestigious award

Andy Johnson, our Managing Director, says: “As a keen GCA Associate Member and a key supplier to garden centres nationwide, we were delighted to sponsor this prestigious award, which highlights not just garden centres with top quality, interesting plants, but those who take the trouble to display them well, to use good signage and information, to support and train staff, who are passionate about plants, and offer engaging and excellent customer care to those that need their advice and assistance.

“We’d like to congratulate Cowell’s and Squires, Hersham on their overall win and also to applaud the runners up in both categories for their hard work and commitment to outdoor plants too.”

The runners up

The second and third place winners in the Destination Garden Centre Category were Perrywood Garden Centre, Tiptree and Aylett Nurseries and in the Garden Centre Category Perrywood Garden Centre, Sudbury and Squires Garden Centre, Woking.

Judge’s feedback

After the first judging took place last spring, the top 10 highest scorers from across the country then received a second visit from GCA Inspector Alyson Haywood in the autumn to determine the winners of the overall Ruxley Rose competition in both categories, as announced at January’s conference.

She explains: “The Ruxley Rose competition focuses on determining which garden centres nationally have the best plant areas. What makes the best plant area? They are vibrant, colourful, places with comprehensive ranges of plants, which offer first-class quality, and are beautifully and innovatively presented, with cameo displays. They also provide great service to their customers from engaged and knowledgeable staff.

Information & inspiration

“In addition to this, it is important that the best are also immaculately clean and tidy, with no weeds or plant debris, and provide information and inspiration for all customers, from novices to more experienced ones.

“Cowell’s demonstrated a great range authority, superb plant quality, excellent presentation, and inspiration, all in addition to first class retail execution. Squires at Hersham offered a comprehensive outdoor plant range, outstanding quality, it was immaculately clean and tidy, with great presentation, and creative cameo displays to inspire customers. Both centres provided simple helpful plant information for all visitors too.”

Cowell’s Garden Centre and Squires Garden Centre, Hersham were presented with their awards on January 29 at the GCA’s 2024 annual conference in the Cotswolds.

Coveted award

GCA CEO, Peter Burks, adds: “Plants are the key product group for all serious garden centres, which is why we judge our top 10 centres in each turnover band every year to get a true reflection of the best, before amalgamating the scores to announce our overall, national Ruxley Rose winners.

“We are extremely grateful that a nursery such as Wyevale Nurseries, with such a great name and reputation in our industry, sponsors this award, which is undoubtedly the most coveted amongst our member garden centres.

Perfect pairing

“Wyevale Nurseries is highly respected by our members and is well-known for having very high standards in propagation, innovation, plant care and biosecurity. They’re the perfect pairing for this award!”