Tag Archives: ornamentals

Dundonald Nurseries expands

Northern Irish company Dundonald Nurseries, which is based in Co. Down, has expanded, including the addition of new garden centre and warehouse facilities.

In the five years the company, which was established in 1963 and which now supplies Tesco, the Henderson Group and a range of independent outlets and florists across Northern Ireland, has grown from three staff to 60 and also runs an award-winning restaurant and gift shop.

“Having started out with one small van, the wholesale nursery aspect of our business now requires four large lorries to service our wholesale customers across the country, reflecting the focus we have placed on a high-quality service and products,” said owner Malcolm McCully.

“Over the past 55 years, the business has expanded steadily because we are continuously innovating to keep up with changing consumer requirements. We are proud of our growth and recently purchased additional land off-site to build a new-state-of the-art glasshouse complex, equipped with the latest growing technology for plants. This is just the latest stage in our investment programme and with the support of First Trust Bank, we have additional growth plans in place to renovate the basement of our restaurant into a function room to offer a new private space for hire.”

Photo caption: Malcolm McCully of Dundonald Nurseries (right) with Catherine O’Keefe of First Trust Bank, who provided finance for the expansion.

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Dutch ag. exports reach record high

According to the latest statistics from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Wageningen Economic Research, Dutch exports of agricultural goods reached a record level of €91.7 billion in 2017, exceeding the previous record in 2016 by more than 7 per cent.

Dutch agricultural imports and the nation’s agricultural surplus also reached record heights, as imports of agricultural goods increased by 9 per cent to €62.6 billion, while the agricultural surplus went up by almost 4 per cent to €29.1 billion.

The horticultural sector led the way, with horticulture including cut flowers, bulbs, plants and nursery products worth €9.1 billion. This was followed by dairy products (€8.9 billion), meat (€8.3 billion) and vegetables (€6.7 billion). The same ranking holds true if only domestically produced items are counted.  According to the CBS, ‘fruit ranks fifth on the list of top agricultural export goods, although this is largely re-exports of foreign produce.’

Germany is the top destination for Dutch agricultural exports, with €23.4 billion in agricultural goods crossing the Dutch border, equivalent to over 25 percent of total agricultural exports.

Germany was followed by Belgium (€10.4 billion), the UK (€8.6 billion) and France (€8.0 billion) as the largest buyers of agricultural products from the Netherlands.

Photo Caption: Horticulture topped Dutch exports, with vegetables and fruit in fourth and fifth place.

Photo Credit: Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

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CRISPR technology used to change flower colour

Japanese scientists have used the revolutionary CRISPR, or CRISPR/Cas9, genome-editing tool to change flower colour in an ornamental plant, the first time the technique has been used for such a purpose.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba, the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and Yokohama City University, Japan, altered the flower colour of Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil or Pharbitis nil), from violet to white, by disrupting a single gene. Japanese morning glory, or Asagao, was chosen as it is one of two traditional horticultural model plants in the National BioResource Project in Japan (NBRP).

The research team targeted a single gene, dihydroflavonol-4-reductase-B (DFR-B), encoding an anthocyanin biosynthesis enzyme, that is responsible for the colour of the plant’s stems, leaves and flowers. Two other, very closely related genes (DFR-A and DRF-C) sit side-by-side, next to DFR-B.

The CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)/Cas9 system is based on a bacterial defence mechanism. It is composed of two molecules that alter the DNA sequence. Cas9, an enzyme, cuts the two strands of DNA in a precise location so that DNA can be added or removed. Cas9 is guided to the correct location by a small piece of RNA that has been designed to be complementary to the target DNA sequence. Currently, CRISPR/Cas9 technology is not 100% efficient, but the mutation rate in this study, 75%, however, was relatively high.

Photo Caption: Morning glory flowers

Photo Credit: tamayura39 / Fotolia

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‘Bee friendly’ plants contain pesticides says study

A new study by scientists from the Universities of Sussex and Padua in Italy has highlighted that many garden plants which are marketed to the public as being ‘pollinator friendly’, may in fact contain pesticide residues which could be harmful to the insects.

In a paper published in Environmental Pollution, the researchers said, ‘These plants are often treated with pesticides during their production. There is little information on the nature of pesticide residues present at the point of purchase and whether these plants may actually pose a threat to, rather than benefit, the health of pollinating insects.

‘This study screened leaves from 29 different ‘bee-friendly’ plants for eight insecticides and 16 fungicides commonly used in ornamental production. Only two plants (a Narcissus and a Salvia variety) did not contain any pesticide.’

Although the authors admitted that, ‘The net effect on pollinators of buying plants that are a rich source of forage for them but simultaneously risk exposing them to a cocktail of pesticides is not clear,’ retailers said they were addressing the issue.

In a statement to The Independent, B&Q said, ‘All our plant ranges are grown in line with current regulations. The research referenced was carried out last year. We announced in April 2017 that our flowering plant range, available from February 2018, will be grown free from all nine neonicotinoid pesticides.’

Aldi also questioned some of the claims in the study: ‘Since October 2016, Aldi has not sold any bedding plants with neonicotinoids,’ it said in a statement. ‘“In addition, we have never sold any plants under the RHS Perfect for Pollinators programme.’

Photo Caption: Scientists claim that plants sold as being good for pollinators could actually harm them.

Photo Credit: RHS

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BPOA outlines 10-year vision

Following a full review between last December and February, the British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) has unveiled its plans for the next ten years.

Greg Hill, chairman of the BPOA, said, “With many changes occurring in the industry and the needs of our members changing, we thought it was a good time for a long look at the operation of our association and we are delighted with John’s study and the opportunity that it has given us to update our operations and make them fit for the future of the industry.”

The BPOA Management Committee has since analysed the findings of the review and it presents John Hall’s report to the membership. It is working to address the questions raised in the report and consider the recommendations for action by developing an Action Plan for implementation beginning immediately in 2017. The Action Plan will be presented to BPOA members at an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday 17th October.

The BPOA Review, which was produced by consultant John Hall, can be read here.

Photo Credit: BPOA / NFU

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AHDB & BPOA plan Canadian study trip

After the success of its previous transatlantic study tour to the United States in 2015, AHDB Horticulture, The Bedding and Pot Plant Centre and The British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) are now organising a two week study tour to Canada.

According to AHDB, ‘The study tour has been designed to share with growers the latest products, technical innovation, news and research from Canada and to identify potential new commercial opportunities for UK growers.’ As well as visits to nurseries and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, the trip will include the Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Niagra Falls in October.

A provisional itinerary and estimate costs are available on the AHDB Horticulture website and further details will be posted if there is sufficient interest. ‘The overall objective is to offer growers an opportunity to learn from the Canadian ornamentals industry in order to help identify new product ideas and technical innovation that can be implemented back in the UK,’ according to AHDB.

Photo Caption: Previous study tour to the US

Photo Credit: BPOA / NFU

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Flower Show Forum returns for gardening clubs to review the fruits of their labours

Gardening clubs and horticultural societies from Dorset, Somerset and beyond are currently reviewing the success of this year’s flower and horticultural show calendar, as they prepare for the second Flower Show Forum of the year, being held at Castle Gardens on Thursday 15 September. Following the momentum gained at the inaugural forum in March, where gardening clubs, horticultural societies and flower show organisers shared their concerns and devised a plan to rejuvenate membership and revive the traditional shows, Mike Burks, managing director of The Gardens Group, will chair this second Flower Show Forum in Sherborne, Dorset.

Mike explains; “I am really looking forward to hearing how the advice given by our panel, which included Susie Corr from the Royal Horticultural Society’s Affiliated Societies team, has been implemented by these clubs and societies. It will be a really valuable exercise to review what worked and what didn’t, as we gather to evaluate and reassess the barriers that shows are still coming up against. These discussion points will help shape the topics for the next forum, which is scheduled for March 2017. We will also be announcing an exciting new initiative, which we’ve been working on, as we continue in our efforts to help grow membership of gardening clubs and increase entries into shows.”

The Flower Show Forum is free to attend and will be held in The Butterfly House at Castle Gardens in Sherborne from 7pm.

Photo Credit: Iwerne Minster Produce and Horticultural Association’s Summer Show

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UK nursery automates

Netherlands-based Kees Greeve Greenhouse Projects has recently completed a greenhouse automation project for Pinetops Nursery after the company was forced to move to the former HRI Efford site after its former Livermans nursery west of Littlehampton was developed for housing.

Pinetops, which is run by brothers Ian and Stuart Paton, grows lilies, poinsettias and hellebores. In October last year the brothers also regained their title as the growers of the largest pumpkin in the UK.

KG Greenhouses says it is just putting the finishing touches to a fully automated container system which is combined with a visualisation program. This allows them to monitor all movements and pre-program the full cultivation cycle from the pot robots up to harvesting.

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