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plan t f ocus PL ANT


Lucy Summers is a garden designer, writer and plant lover. In this month’s ‘Plant Focus’, join her as she discusses the urban garden, and what you can do you entice your customer toward the slightly less obvious plant choices


When dealing with my landscape clients, my infallible secret weapon is simply listening. Taking significant time to understand their lifestyle, aspiration and needs means I create gardens that surpass their expectations. I aim for nothing


less. Embrace this philosophy wholeheartedly and it brings just reward. Stay ever mindful of the problems that present themselves to townies; shade’s a biggie, plants that cope well with shade have to be a subject dear to the city-dweller’s heart and as a retailer you can provide some inspirational suggestions. Hellebores have got to be about


the smartest, shade-loving urban plants around. There are so many great cultivars to choose from, with fabulous flower and foliage, appealing to the minimalist and extrovert alike. They come in a remarkable range of colours and flower shapes. Helleborus niger offers fabulous trademark leathery foliage showing off simple glistening white flowers in January and is obligingly compact at H: 30cm x W: 45cm. Okay, I’m going to go out on a


limb here and am happy to be shot down, but even as I dive for the shelter of the parapet, urban garden retailers have to own up to space issues. There’s no doubt you’re up against it compared to the larger out-of-town plant suppliers, who can display as many varieties of lavender as they desire. Deliberately flaunting a dozen different varieties of hardy geraniums is immensely do-able for them. Understandably, trying to compete with the extensive range of plants offered by specialist nurseries and retailers with large tracts of land is almost impossible. It’s the age-old wrangle: the corner shop versus the big supermarkets. This means town retailers are


Hydrangea macrophylla 34 APRIL 2014 / GARDEN CENTRE RETAIL


going to have to be inventive. You don’t get older without getting artful; imagination and exemplary customer care will take you a long


*Sedum Sunsparkler ‘Blue Pearl’


Helleborus niger


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