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Local Gardening Festivals Reflect Worldwide Trends, says John Stanley in Business Issues

Viewing Global Trends at Local Garden Shows

January 17, 2017  By John Stanley

Sometimes less is indeed more. This landscape incorporates mini-golf.

February 2017 – The Nannup Flower and Garden Festival is held every year in the southwest of Australia during the third week of August. Last year was the first year that the festival introduced show gardens constructed by both local organizations and landscape designers to provide the consumer with new ideas and solutions.

Around the world, gardening in many countries has declined in popularity in recent years. This has been due to a number of factors:

  • The perception of gardening as being difficult, especially with millennials.
  • Smaller urban gardens.
  • Too many garden retailers not stimulating sales with ideas and being focused more on the product than on consumer needs.

Events such as the Nannup Flower and Garden Festival are a positive way to celebrate gardening and encourage people of all ages to get involved in gardening. Garden shows – like this festival – around the world are being developed in exciting times when new community gardens are on the increase, schools are embracing gardening and cooking fresh food as part of the curriculum, and there is a renewed interest in growing your own food.


Show gardens provide a platform to stimulate ideas and create interest in exploring what can be achieved in a garden. The eight exhibitors at this rural show excelled in providing ideas and any of the exhibits would have easily fit into a Chelsea Flower Show.

Many consumers are more interested in learning how to create a garden that meets their needs than they are in individual plants. Show gardens provide the opportunity to experiment with new ideas. Exhibitors at Nannup achieved that objective and excelled at stimulating new solutions for any garden whether it be in the city or a rural setting.

Trendy ideas that caught my attention included:

Garden sculptures are part of the retail mix: Creating a garden is more than selecting a group of plants – sculptures are now very much part of setting the scene in a garden and decorating the outdoor living area. They can be traditional, modern or futuristic.

Show gardeners how to recycle: Recycling is very much in vogue. A toilet can now become a conversation piece in the garden. The local Nannup mosaic group do an excellent job of recycling old items and giving them a new lease on life as a beautiful piece of outdoor art. Clubs like this can bring ideas and inspiration into a garden centre over a weekend with a demonstration of their art.

One of the landscape designers focused on gabion cubes and tubes out of snake wire. Framed mirrors were used to add interest and help the garden appear larger.

Fairy gardens are a growth category: Smaller garden lots mean smaller gardens and fairy gardens. Fairy garden workshops are a growing trend and category. A lot of interest was shown in this category at the Nannup show. At the IGA Show in Chicago in August they were noted as being one of the hottest trends in the garden category. In Australia, the consumer is ahead of the industry in growing this category.

Less is more: Fewer plants that are easy to maintain can stimulate potential gardeners into participating in the garden as an entertainment room outside, that could include a place to have a coffee or to play mini golf.

I would encourage local independent garden centres to use a local garden show as an incubator for ideas. That is what Nannup Garden Village did and it gave exhibitors an opportunity to share their ideas and develop new ones for the future.

John Stanley is a retail business coach, consultant, speaker and author. His expertise is in customer-focused layout, merchandising, marketing and branding, and customer-focused selling and service. Visit his website at

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