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Starting with Yates, Country Manager David Mortimer reports that the trend for natural products in terms of fertilisers and pest control solutions continues fairly unabated, alongside the growing tendency for people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
I ask if the national media coverage on the increases in the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables was an influencer on the increasing trend for edibles. David Mortimer is reluctant to say definitively if this was the case but he could report that upswings in edible sales did often come about with down swings in the economy.
“I can say that during the GFC period things were really hard and there was an absolute upswing in seed and seedling sales. So when things get tough people do get a bit more interested in edibles and you can draw a correlation there,” he says.
Increasing concerns about the type of fertilisers and pesticides used in the production of purchased produce as well the carbon foot prints involved in imported products may also be influencing factors in the continued interest in edibles.
“I think people are beginning to understand now that if you do it yourself you know exactly what’s going on in your food and there’s certainly a level of comfort in that.”
VEGES TRUCKING ALONG
Digging more into the edibles market, Palmers Garden Centres Category Manager Ron van Zuilen confirms that this category continues to sell well with vegetables “trucking along” and sales of fruit trees showing good increases in the past year despite changes to the average size of New Zealand sections.
“Even though you think the sections are getting smaller there is still a big demand for nectarines, apples and plums particularly in trees that grow to two to four metres,” he says.
And while consumers clearly enjoy the total control over their food that grow your own produce can offer, it’s not just pure practicality that sells.
“The flavour of an apple or a mandarin grown at home is just so much different than what you get in the supermarket so demand for that kind of thing is still growing which is really good,” van Zuilen explains.
While the move to edibles can be attributed to a range of cultural and economic factors, the big increases that Palmers has seen in sales of indoor plants are based on more intangible reasons.
THE INDOOR GARDEN
Kings Plant Barn has also done very well from the rise of house plants in recent years explains Marketing Manager Jon Kirman.
“We’ve had massive growth in house plants and indoor sales in the last two or three years. It seems like it’s a revolving trend where it was massive maybe 20 or 30 years ago and then it went completely out of fashion. Now it’s cool again and if you look in many of the interior magazines the houses are just full of different types of indoor plants,” Kirman says.
Speaking to anyone involved in the sale of indoor plants, photo focused social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest are also seen as trend setting in the types of indoor plants being showcased in stylish interior settings.
And with more than just the lawn and garden channel involved in selling matching pots and hangers to go with today’s on trend plants there is plenty of photographic evidence out there (the most images ever in fact) that indoor plants are very hot.
Not any indoor plants will do however and Jon Kirman points out that flowering plants like begonias and chrysanthemums while maybe still good for a splash of colour outside are not on trend for indoor plants right now.
So instead of potted colour, think “architectural foliage and lots of big, green leaves” with the likes of the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata) and the Swiss Cheese Plant (one of the very popular Monstera Genus) popular examples of the type of plants currently fashionable.
THE MODERN NURSERY – COOL PLANTS
Someone whose stock in trade is indoor plants is Lara Bui, owner of the aptly named Cool Plants, a Tauranga-based nursery and online store that sells and hires out plants and plant pots to home owners and businesses, and offers a full consultancy service amongst other things.
Needless to say, Lara Bui knows and loves plants and has a good ear to the ground for what is current and what is coming next in this particular space and reports that business has been “crazy” over the last 12 months as the trend for indoor plants continues to grow beyond just a fad.
In terms of what does well, she confirms that the Fiddle Leaf Fig and Monstera varieties indeed remain the hipster plant of choice thanks to their large, uniquely shaped leaves and the instant “wow factor” they give any space. Lui has also seen other traditionally outdoor plants such as the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia), philodendrons and other trailing vines take off in recent years.
Looking at an overarching aesthetic for the plants currently on trend, “indoor jungle” is a good descriptor, incorporating plants with interesting angles and strong silhouettes.
Cool Plants also does well from eclectic plant and pot combinations, while tough, resilient succulents and cacti offer a good market for people who like plants but aren’t confident to take care of them properly.
I asked Lara Bui what she felt makes a plant that has existed for millions of years suddenly become trendy?
“Basically someone will take a plant, put it in a fashion shoot and, next minute, everyone wants that one in their home,” Bui explains.
Unfortunately this doesn’t always work out in a practical sense.
“The reality is that while some of these plants might look great in that photo shoot they probably won’t do that well indoors. For example, I’ve seen some international magazines suggesting having fruiting or olive trees inside, which is great if you’ve got a north facing position with 8 hours full sun but in your average house it’s going to limp along.
“So there has to be a fight between fashion and what will work and that’s where someone like me pops in and says ‘This is the reality. This is what’s really going to work in your environment,” she says.
MAKING PLANTS EARN THEIR KEEP
Lara Bui’s passion for plants, combined with her comprehensive knowledge of their natural attributes, has seen Cool Plants do well with not only home owners but also businesses looking to improve their working environment.
Looking at how things will potentially progress in future, she feel that the functional aspects of indoor plants will become more and more important to people
“I’m definitely seeing it with businesses already where rather than just saying ‘let’s just chuck in anything,’ they will ask ‘what is going to help reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds in the air here and what’s going to make a better work environment for people?’”
Lara Bui relies on useful information collected by NASA for its Clean Air Study which identified the best air filtering plants while researching methods of cleaning air in space stations.
She explains that while all plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, some plants also eliminate agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene as well.
“So that’s where we bring in peace lilies, dracaena, ivy, mother in laws tongue, spider plants and stuff like that where they look great but have that dual purpose as well. And it’s really wonderful for new buildings and homes where you know your carpet is pouring out all these VOCs so you get all these plants in to help clear the air.”
Cool Plants is certainly doing a healthy business out of the interest in indoor plants but heading back to the channel now, has this really generated significant numbers with garden centres or is it just for the cool kids?
TENDING THE YOUNGER MARKET
Kings Plant Barn’s Jon Kirman confirms that while the most noted increases have come from indoor plants and products suitable for apartment living, particularly in newer metro stores which have changed their balance of products to favour the more ready to go (almost disposable) indoor plant trend, the younger market this is catered to still only represent around 15-20% of the chain’s overall sales.
Considering that Kings’ traditional customers will keep their plants going for years purchasing soil, sprays and fertilisers rather than replacing them each year Kirman is keen to keep the older bread and butter customers on board.
“It’s about getting the balance right because you definitely don’t want to shift all the way to the younger market and start alienating your core customers. So we’re really just trying to broaden our market,” says Jon Kirman.
One way of tending to this younger but growing market is the recent launch of Kings’ Plant Doctor Website which offers practical advice on plant care with a focus on organic based solutions offering advice that older, more experienced gardeners may already know.
Looking ahead, Kings also plans to create a patio garden section this spring, with more focus on “ready to go gardens” which should also appeal to younger, entry level gardeners, proof if ever you needed it, that there is plenty of life and movement in this category.
Hosing made easy
The new Holman 20m Retractable Hose Reel is sleeker and more compact than previous models and has a new lid for hose inspection on the inside. 12mm snap-on connectors allow quick connection of a new hose as needed and a bracket allows the unit to be mounted to a wall or fence and additional brackets can be purchased so it can be moved around a caravan, trailer or boat. For optimised retraction, the automatic hose layering mechanism neatly layers the hose from side to side across the reel.
Never mow the lawn yourself again
The new Gardena R80Li Robotic Lawnmower is completely automatic and will remove weekly mowing from users list of things to do. It mows a lawn area up to a maximum of 800m² effectively, reliably and without wheel ruts using a random motion pattern, to prevent uneven mowing strips. Features an easy-to-place boundary wire that shows where to mow and a skid plate that ensures protection of the blades from rocks and debris. Programming is simple and quick with different mowing times or days able to be set on the large selection panel and display. Lift and tilt sensors and an easy access stop button add additional safety for people and animals. This 18 V /1.6 Ah battery model automatically returns to its base when it needs charging and comes with charging station, a power cable, boundary wire, staples, spare blades, couplers and connectors.
The new Gardena Fruit Collector is another big time saver enabling easy collection of fruit and windfall without having to bend down. Users simply roll the unit and its flexible plastic struts over anything from walnuts to apples. Comes with a 25-year warranty.
Contemporary pavers that impress
As seen on The Block NZ! Firth’s Designer Series paving is a residential paving range that lets you combine colours, textures and sizes to create beautiful outdoor living spaces, paths and patios. A stylish, tile-look paver, honed to expose its aggregate, each 50mm paver has spacing lugs for easy spacing and interchangeable sizing for greater versatility in design and patterning. Pavers are protected with Nano-technology, so they are easy to maintain and stay looking great year round.
Powerful Solutions for
For tough cleaning jobs on your acreage, the robust Kärcher G2500DCE Petrol Pressure Washer offers outstanding cleaning power with 2500PSI outage with the ability to clean in remote locations without the need to worry about finding power outlets or running extension cords. Equipped with a 173cc KPS engine and heavy duty pump, the G 2500 DCE offers good value in a compact, ergonomically designed gas pressure washer.
A new kind of cut
Vesco’s best-selling pruner in Europe is now available in New Zealand. Vesco A6 Curved Anvil Secateurs are designed for the professional market including horticulture, landscaping and arboriculture, but are also popular with discerning home gardeners. The A6 has hot-forged tempered high-carbon blades for strength and lightness, aluminium handles with rubber grips and lock, adjustable blades with inner grease groove, and an aluminium anvil attachment designed for quick and easy field repairs. Specifically designed to perform the anvil-cut in areas where previously by-pass secateurs have been used, the A6 takes 25% less effort than traditional bypass shears.
Black & Decker’s new DUALVOLT
Stanley Black & Decker’s new DUALVOLT range of products offer 54V, enough power for even the toughest of gardening tasks. NZ Sales Director Nick Armiger is very excited about the benefits this new system offers its existing and new customers.
“Everybody has gone through multiple voltage offers but now we’ve found a really great platform where we can jump between 18 and 54 voltages. And at 54 volt you’re getting into bigger, higher performance!”
This range includes the CLM5448PC2-XE Lawn Mower with Autosense technology, 3-in-1 grass collection for mulching, bagging and side discharge, height adjustment and Edge Max design for cutting close up edges.
The GTC5455PC-XE Hedge Trimmer has hardened steel 60cm dual action blades with 19mm blade gap suitable for larger hedges. The saw blade tip allows for cutting of larger branches up to 38mm in diameter.
The STC5433PC-XE String Trimmer has a fast cutting dual line & 33cm cutting swath for fast job completion over larger areas and control line feed at the push of a button for complete control when trimming & edging.
Clear everything up with the GWC54PC-XE Blower with up to 300 CFM and 195 Km/h power in a comfortable 2. 7 kg design.
Dewalt Flex Volt
Part of its Flex Volt 54V range of products, Dewalt Xr Flex Volt products feature high efficiency brushless motors for corded power with cordless convenience. The DCM5712N-XE Line Trimmer and DCM571X1-XE Brushcutter offer fast cutting and a 38cm cutting swath for fast job completions and offer solutions from grass trimming through to heavy duty clearing work. Finish everything up with the DCM572X1-XE Blower with up to 400 CFM and 195 Km/h debris clearing power, with variable speed trigger.
Showa looks out for your hands
The new Showa 306 Glove is a breathable, water repellent, fully coated latex grip glove designed to protect against liquid and general hazards yet minimise perspiration when it’s hot and stay warm and dry in wet conditions. For general handling hazards the Showa 341 has a high level of flexibility and softness due to advanced grip technology and breathable 13 gauge liner and has a waterproof latex coated palm, antibacterial and anti-odour treatment and an ergonomic design for reduced hand fatigue.
Spray with no pre-mixing
The new Egmont Sprayer is a fertiliser/insecticide sprayer ideal for weed, fertiliser & bug control in lawns and general garden use. Any concentrate can be used, just fill the bottle with concentrate then turn the dial for the correct mix, connect the hose and pull the trigger. This simple to use unit is available at most garden centres.
New from Tui
Tui’s lightest potting mix ever, Tui Superlight Potting Mix is up to 30% lighter than regular potting mixes, making it much easier and more convenient to carry and use. Tui has also launched Tui Sheep Pellets in an 8kg bag and Tui Mini Sheep Pellets a 1.5kg bag this spring containing all natural pelletised New Zealand sheep manure.
Tui has also developed the Tui Gardening Hacks series, six short form videos which provide Kiwis with novel ways to grow their own, even in small spaces. Additionally, Tui is the garden partner for the new TVNZ1 show HOMEmade that transforms Kiwi backyards and homes, creating spaces the whole family can enjoy with new ways to “grow your own”.