I have just returned from the Grand Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition. Firstly, I must congratulate Victoria George and her team for an excellent event. It was just five weeks ago that we were given permission for it to go ahead. Normally, preparations commence five months before a final. The challenges of booking hotels, catering and arranging transport for all involved, was successfully undertaken. It was good to attend a face-to-face event, and for us to do something we considered normal in the past.

My thanks go to Richard Baines, Curator of RBGE Logan Botanic Garden, for hosting the competition. Congratulations to Tim Stafford, the overall winner. Tim was presented with his Kew Diploma on Friday afternoon. He immediately took a train from London to Dumfries, and after a short overnight stay left at 6.30am the following morning on a bus to Stranraer. It was a close fought contest, and the entire finalists demonstrated a breadth of knowledge. The competition brings together a diverse group of young people who are the future of our industry.

I am pleased to say that branches are now arranging face-to-face events for members. It will be good to socialise with friends and colleagues, and also to attend events that will contribute to Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

All Annual Branch Meetings have now taken place, and I welcome all new officers into post. Helen Sessions (Development Officer) will shortly be contacting branch committees to introduce an induction pack for committees. This will incorporate guidance, terms of reference and updated information relating to regulations such as GDPR.

The horticulture and landscape industry has increased significantly in value during the past few years. Ideas in a new report by Oxford Economics and Foresight Factory include increasing UK plant and tree production to help the Government meet its environmental sustainability targets. The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG) has launched their report “Greener Growth 2030”. The report demonstrates the enormous potential for growth and will hopefully assist Horticulture to gain the recognition it deserves.

It identifies five potential areas for growth that it will be asking the government to consider:

 ‘Best of British’ – backing UK production and green spaces 

 Developing urban community renewal 

 Generating a Brexit premium for UK trade

 Expanding employment opportunities

 Environmental-based solutions to cultivate a sustainable future

The growth of the industry relies on a unified approach from government, landscapers, growers, educators, researchers and those involved in the creation and management of green spaces. With the pressures of climate change, now more than ever it is time for action.

Due to the increased activity during the pandemic, garden centres and nurseries have experienced a significant rise in turnover. Unfortunately, they are now experiencing shortages in supplies of plants and other goods. This is an opportunity to expand the home-grown market.

The importance of parks and open spaces to individuals and communities cannot be underestimated. Throughout the pandemic they have provided a lifeline for many people. We must continue to protect these precious spaces. Natural England has recently announced a landmark new programme for protected landscapes.

Susan Nicholas FCIHort