De-mystify roses to achieve market growth

Over 40 rose growers and garden retailers attended the BRG annual meeting and nursery tour, which was this year hosted by Whartons Nurseries in Diss, Norfolk and chaired by John Adlam.

Amongst those that attended were representatives from: Apuldram Roses, Baytree Garden Centre, Burston Nurseries, Cants, C & K Roses, David Barnes Roses, Fryers Roses, Henry Street Garden Centre, John Woods Nurseries, Old Fashioned Roses, R Harkness and Co, Scotsdales Garden Centre, Timmermans Roses and Whartons Nurseries.HTA’s Director of Business Development Tim Briercliffe presented the latest findings from HTA commissioned Ipsos Mori research, carried out in May, about who buys roses.

The key findings of the research* are:

  • 47% of all those questioned who have a garden have roses growing in it
  • Over 1/3 of people who have bought a plant in recent years have bought a rose
  • Those who buy roses are likely to be keen female gardeners that are over 55
  • The vast majority of rose purchasers are happy with their product – with the highest levels of satisfaction from those who purchased their rose from a garden centre or retail nursery
  • Garden centres and retail nurseries are  perceived to have a better range of roses than other outlets
  • There are lower levels of satisfaction with regard to the labelling of roses amongst gardeners.


Tim Briercliffe comments, “This research really helps to identify where the opportunities lie to grow the market for roses. It clearly shows that roses are not being purchased by as wide a range of gardeners as other plants and provides an indication of why this might be the case. It is evident that marginal gardeners need more help and guidance with regard to labelling and information about roses and can feel ‘lost’ when choosing a rose. The challenge lies ahead to de-mystify the rose for the marginal gardeners whilst still appealing to the core market of keen gardeners.”The group received an update from HTA Technical Adviser John Adlam and Xiangming Xu from East Malling Research (EMR) on a HDC funded project to enable rose growers to predict powdery mildew infections.  By monitoring temperature and humidity conditions, using a data logger, growers can enter this data into a computer programme that will enable them to predict high risk periods for powdery mildew infection.  This is the first time that such systems have been developed for an ornamental crop and growers present were keen to test the model on their own crops.  Whilst still in its development stage this project has the potential to significantly reduce the need for routine fungicide spraying leading to worthwhile pesticide reductions and financial savings.  Rose growers wanting to test the pilot edition of the programme should contact Xiangming Xu at EMR.Following on from this the group received an update on the rose promotional activities carried out by the HTA’s PlantforLife campaign and Roses UK over the last year – along with plans for 2011 activities. These included:



  • Natures remedy – an initiative which promoted the health benefits of scented plants, including the rose was showcased through the media and at the National Plant Show
  • Sensory Challenge campaign for spring 2011 which will be looking at a schools garden design competition based on the senses
  • Plant of the Month 2011 – new point of sale materials, a merchandising guide, linked selling ideas and planting combinations to promote rose sales in June.


Roses UK

  • Promotion of the rose locator which lists 1,400 rose varieties and attracts significant consumer traffic.
  • Gold Standard Rose trials – run by NIAB and BARB – highlighting new varieties. Currently 38 varieties have the Gold Standard with more coming on line in the autumn.
  • Review of 2010 Roses UK attended events – Gardeners World Live, the HTA National Plant Show and the Midsummer Festival of Roses at the Hampton Court Flower Show – which saw the launch of several new varieties including the Rose of the Year for 2011, Joie de Vivre.


Kevin Waters from The Garden Works ran a mini masterclass on the display and merchandising of roses. He encouraged garden retailers to think outside the box more and to sell ideas rather than just product. “Roses look and smell good and have a great shelf life – they are a superb product that appeals to the senses and we should really play to their strengths in displays. Through in-store theatre, linked sale displays and effective signage and labelling we can help to de-mystify the rose and appeal to many more gardeners”, he said.Amongst the ideas discussed for promotional activities in 2011 were:- the production of a merchandising DVD for roses and greater promotion of the Gold Standard roses. In a discussion about the need to de-mystify roses the group felt that the media, and TV in particular, have an important role to play in presenting roses in a much more simplified way. It was also felt that there was a need to inform landscape architects about the plethora of new varieties of roses available to them – many of which had superseded the traditional roses that are commonly used in amenity planting. There was also a call for reviewing the current industry-standard bed card imagery available as many felt that it was outdated and not showing roses off as much as it could be.For 2011 the HTA British Rose Group have produced new photography to demonstrate to retailers examples of quality rose displays.