Four Oaks 2011 …..Landscapers show guide

Four Oaks is one of those indelible marks on the horticultural calendar, and not just for the garden trade. Its coincidence with IOG Saltex is purely circumstantial and does not lessen its significance to the landscape industry. It is first and foremost a show about plants, so the landscaper has more than a passing interest in the wares on show. A trip to Macclesfield is well worth it if you are serious about keeping a breast of latest plant developments, the supply chain and the best deals going. There’s a wealth of valuable information to be had, people to meet, and The Landscaper suggests here a few of the 400-plus exhibitors worth making a point of visiting while you are there.
We are constantly being told of Britain’s upward curve climatically and there is a noticeably greater interest in growing things Mediterranean here. The Tuscan grower Magni Piante (stand B64/65) is an impressive source of palms, aromatics, and hedging and screening plants of this ilk. New varieties are promised with UK cash and carry available. Contact: Peter Davies 01568 797747
There are care issues surrounding nurturing olives and Mediterranean citrus fruits – notably frost protection – but it can be done, planters being the obvious medium, and they are getting more and more sought after. A first timer at the show Viveros Valero e Hijos (stand E254-257) from Spain looks a good source. Contact: Also specialising in the supply of olives and palms is Spanish Plants (stand OP4/5) either direct from Spain or via the Four Oaks cash and carry. Contact: Pete Squires 01565 625811. Another provider of ornamental citrus plants in pots worth a look, again a grower from Tuscany, is Oscar Tintori (stand E208/209 E240/241). About 200 varieties are available via wholesalers. Contact: Roberta Romoli Making it an Italian treble of worthy ports of call is one more Tuscan grower Vivai Gabellini (stand A31/34) which offers a wide range of trees and shrubs for the landscape market and able to do contract growing for special projects. Contact: Domenico Guizzo
Still with a Mediterranean theme and an excellent raw material for plant landscaping is the bay tree which exhibitor Laurica Plants from Belgium (stand E145/147) distributes through wholesalers. If you are not familiar with what this laurel offers architecturally take a look at the diversity of shapes on offer. Contact: Elie Devisch
For a long time an unsung hero of garden architecture the fern is beginning to make a sizeable statement. One of the world’s biggest growers, Dutch firm Braam Youngplants (stand A54) is showing the best and latest from its 160 strong repertoire of hardy and tropical varieties. Contact: Wim Braam
If it’s instant hedging you want Dutch nursery De Limieten (stand OP21/22) should be on your radar. Units of Carpinus, Fagus and Ilex aquifolium ‘Limsi’ fit the bill nicely and are pretty handsome. Contact: Wim Takkebos Not quite instant, but pretty much ready-made are the hedging options grown by another Dutch nursery Poppelaars (stand E29). Its specialities include Buxus, Prunus and Taxus varieties and they come either root-balled or bare root. Worth finding out about the short delivery times they promise. Contact: Hans Poppelaars
A wholesale tree nursery in Lancashire J A Jones and Sons (stand OP16a) has long been a supplier to the landscape market has a massive 90,000 specimens from ‘feathers’ to semi-matures. Lifting is strictly to order, it will contract grow, and it has its own cash and carry. Worth a look if they are not known to you. Contact: Daniel Kings
If you are keen to go the peat-free route take a look at Bettaland (stand C51). The Lincolnshire-based exhibitor grows hardy nursery stock and trees using a peat-free growing medium produced by its own sister company. Contact: Shaun Dring 01733 211393
For specimen bare-rooted ornamental trees and conifers the Cambridgeshire wholesale grower Poplar Nurseries (stand E231) also merits a stop-off. Contact: Mike Harper 01945 465547.
A grower of mature ornamental trees which specialises in working with landscape architects and garden designers is Green Mile Trees (stand OP26). It offers a wide range of field and container grown English and Continental varieties and can also provide evergreen or deciduous instant hedging. Contact: Christopher Scott 01777 702422
Herbaceous borders are coming back into fashion and one exhibitor that has some new varieties on show is Dutch exporter Darwin Perrenials (stand D97/99 116/119). Dicentra Valentine and Phlox Twister, which is said to be mildew resistant, are two of the newcomers that can be inspected. Contact: Stuart Lowen (Ball Colegrave) info@darwinplants
For amenity planting schemes where container stock of ornamental shrubs is needed Mill House Nurseries (stand E224) looks a worthy source. Rhododendrons, maples, azaleas and eucalyptus are among the offerings from this Lancashire wholesale grower. Contact: Steve Grayson 01254 248333
One of the UK’s leading producers of containers grown trees and shrubs for the landscape market is Tamar Nurseries (stand C23/28) which has apparently been voted by DEFRA as one of the most environmentally friendly growers in the country. It has a cash and carry facility in Cambridgeshire which it describes as offering a good service to ‘landscapers on the go’. If you are at the show, give it some time. Contact: John Huibers 01945 464383,
If Japanese Maples in particular are needed for a scheme then Dutch exhibitor Wm J Hooftman (stand A23/26) is an ideal port of call. It specialises in them, growing about 40,000 a year with a choice of 100 or so varieties. They are grown in 6-27 litre terracotta containers, said to be winter hardy. Contact: William Hooftman
‘Big plants for big projects’ is the boast of Essex-based Classiflora Imports (stand B73/78 93-100) which says it offers a large range of specimen plants for landscaping at its cash and carry facility. Guaranteed uniformity of container stock in large volumes is said to be assured over a core range of Spanish sourced stock including evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, and climbers. Contact: Andrew Dayes 08700 600420.
Nowadays just about the UK’s biggest supplier of landscape materials is Green-Tech (stand C61). If you want to talk to the people that are the only source of Mona planting systems, Green-tree topsoil and Holdfast blocks the show is the place to do it. It offers a 2000-plus range of products too, including top brands like Melcourt, Tubex and Rainbow. Contact: Kate Humes 01423 332170.
For turfing needs Spearhead Turf (stand E3) offers landscaper professionals countrywide next day delivery 365 days a year. The show is a good opportunity to find out about the variety of off-the-shelf grades available and the exact specification contract growing service. The free loan of laying equipment is an attractive bonus. Contact: Delwyn Prentice 01638 742901.
And finally, the versatile ornamental dogwood thrives in all manner of conditions and is a tried and tested raw material for landscape design. See new cultivars of Cornus florida and Cornus kousa and others at Commercial Nursery UK (stand B19). It is the UK operation of a grower from Tennessee in the United States and offers a 2-year transplanted container product. Contact: Chris Hiscock 01483 420048.

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