Last week we (the trials team) went to Germany to attend the IPM Trade Fair Essen, the International Trade Fair for Plants.
This is one of the biggest shows in Europe with around 57,000 trade visitors from over 100 different countries, and 1,554 exhibitors from 45 countries.
Visiting the show gives the team a great opportunity to make contact with breeders, wholesalers, retailers and commercial growers to help plan the programme of future trials.
I personally had a look for chrysanthemums, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and Dianthus for the trials which I will be starting over the next few years at RHS Garden Wisley or RHS Garden Harlow Carr. This will help in the discussions with the Trials Forum members to make sure we are capturing as much as possible of the new material being bred across Europe.
There were twelve halls in the complex for the show in which six had plant material and rest covering floristry, garden features and technical (including point-of-sale equipment). One of the main aims of the show allows three quarters of the visitors with purchasing and procurement responsibilities to place orders for 2016 stock or source material for clients: this does include the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The team also took the opportunity to have meetings with the Fleuroselect team to progress the Year of the Sunflower which will be seen at Wisley – more details later in the year. We also discussed what the RHS might look at for 2016.
The visit did not end as we had hoped, a security strike at Dusseldorf airport meant our return flight was cancelled and we had to stay a further night at the airline's expense. The time was not totally wasted as we and lots of UK delegates carried on introductions and discussions in the many queues we spent time in.