More than 230 garden centres nationwide attracted thousands of customers to a plethora of special events and fund-raisers on Friday 14th March and across the weekend, as part of Garden Re-Leaf Day.
Also supported by product and promotional initiatives from many of the gardening industry’s key suppliers, the third, annual Garden Re-Leaf Day successfully combined a fun, fund-raising weekend with ideas to attract gardening customers back in-store after the winter months.
From celebrity gardener talks, quizzes and treasure hunts to competitions, planting lessons and sponsored challenges, Garden Re-Leaf Day delivered plenty for gardeners to get involved in. Many garden product and plant brands also created special on-pack offers, promotions, displays and donation opportunities at garden centres to help raise further funds. All proceeds from the weekend’s events will be donated to Greenfingers, Garden Re-Leaf Day’s nominated charity for 2014.
Garden Re-Leaf Day’s founder and Hillview Garden Centre CEO Boyd Douglas-Davies – who himself took part in a 6-hour, 240 mile Garden Re-Leaf Day Run Row Ride challenge at his Studley Garden Centre site, raising over £2,500 – said: “What an inspiration to see so many garden centres and suppliers putting so much effort and fantastic creativity into this year’s Garden Re-Leaf Day! From one end of the country to the other, retailers had thought of some fantastic ideas and events to get customers back in store after the wet winter months. The bonus was the opportunity to raise money for Greenfingers along the way – and we’ll be announcing the total monies raised in the summer. A huge thank you and well done to everyone who took part, or contributed in some way.”
Boyd also confirmed that the Garden Re-Leaf Day events held at his Hillview Garden Centre group had a positive effect on sales. “Footfall and extra sales income are as much one of Garden Re-Leaf Day’s objectives as the fund-raising, and it works – at our Studley site for example we saw a 30% uplift in sales revenue on that day compared with Friday the previous week. I would be interested in receiving updates from other retailers on any footfall or revenue increase they saw,” he added.
One highlight run by many garden centres was a ‘star-studded’, fund-raising Gardening Quiz arranged centrally by Garden Re-Leaf Day organisers and The Garden Communication and Media Company for local use. The quiz featured questions specially pre-recorded by celebrities including Hollywood star Jude Law and Dr Who actor David Tennant.
Bosworth’s Garden Centre in Burton Latimer was one retailer to take advantage of the quiz. Jonathan Biggs, Marketing Co-Ordinator, said: "We were the first Garden Centre to run the Garden Re-Leaf quiz this year, thanks to Trevor Pfeiffer who put it together. The quiz was so easy to run, our teams were delighted to hear celebrities' voices asking the questions, and the heads and tails game was great fun. With the extra interest we received from various local gardening groups and other customers, we hope to plan similar fundraising activities later in the year, to add to the funds currently being raised for Greenfingers by our 'wishing tree'."
Millbrook Garden Centre’s Gravesend branch, which won a competition to win an appearance by ITV gardener David Domoney during Garden Re-Leaf weekend, attracted dozens of extra customers to its store on Sunday 16th March when David visited to give expert talks about creating a sensory, wildlife-friendly garden, and led ‘walking talks’ around its revamped wildlife area and bird hide. Ross Winn, Admin & Events Manager at Millbrook said: "We are a great supporter of Greenfingers and Garden Re-Leaf Day as it always creates extra interest for customers whilst allowing us to do our bit for charity. On the Friday, we had a coffee morning and a special Gardener’s Question Time hosted by BBC Radio Kent's Andy Garland; featuring top garden experts Steve Bradley and Jean Griffin. We also collected for a raffle, raising £300 on the day. We were so lucky to win the help of Love Your Garden presenter David Domoney - his talks and especially his children's workshops were extremely popular."
At Aylett Nurseries in St Albans, Geoff Lucas, Operations Manager said: "Overall, Garden Re-Leaf Day was a success. Gardening presenter Matthew Biggs was the MC for our quiz, and our Garden Fair was a hit with all ages - the skittle alley, donut eating competition and shove ha'penny just a few of the fun activities that helped us raise money and bring more people into the garden centre. It was also a fantastic opportunity for some team building ahead of the busy spring season, with all the departments getting involved and having fun."
Perrywood Garden Centre & Nurseries in Tiptree ran the quiz as well as a highly original staff competition. Rachel Keeble, Communications Manager, explained: “Friday's quiz night for Greenfingers was a huge success. Around 90 people took part which was fantastic. We also ran a ‘Pimp Your Gloves’ staff competition, donating £5 for every pair entered. We're asking our Facebook followers to vote for their favourite, plus we'll have a judges’ favourite - it's going to be a hard task deciding, as everyone has surpassed themselves! Our Garden Centre Manager Simon Bourne also ran his first half marathon in aid of Greenfingers, on the hottest day of the year so far! He did brilliantly and has raised a good lot of money. We haven't managed to do a final count up yet of what we raised in total on Garden Re-Leaf Day, but we're expecting good things!”
Amongst hundreds of other activities, Fresh@Burcot Garden Centre near Bromsgrove launched a 32ft fund-raising mural with the help of local MP Sajid Javid, and artistic contributions from celebrities such as Alan Titchmarsh, Peter Seabrook and Ron Atkinson, as well as visiting customers. Webbs Garden Centre near Worcester held a raffle and staff were invited to dress up in onesies for the day. At C.W. Groves & Son’s Bridport Garden Centre twelve local primary schools were invited to take part in a ‘pallet garden’ competition. The Gardens Group in Sherborne raffled off a three minute trolley dash in each of its planteria. At Value House Stores in Weymouth children were invited to plant poppy seeds in return for a donation to Garden Re-Leaf, with the flowers set to bloom in time for the 100th anniversary of the First World War in August. The Old Railway Line Garden Centre in Powys held fund-raisers including a plant identification challenge, a raffle, and ‘Fill The Pot’ – challenging customers to fill a pot with compost against the clock, using only a teaspoon.
On television, QVC viewers also helped to raise funds for Garden Re-Leaf Day by buying products from gardening guru Richard Jackson’s popular gardening product shows on 15th and 16th March. In total the shows raised an impressive £22,700, with the top contributor, Hayloft Plants, donating £8,574 of this amount.
Greenfingers is a small, nationwide charity dedicated to building gardens in children’s hospices around the UK. It has created 42 magical hospice gardens since its inception and has more children’s hospices who need its help. Since the first Garden Re-Leaf Day in March 2012, the volunteer-organised event has raised more than £116,000 for Greenfingers; enabling several life-enhancing hospice gardens to be created. In 2014 Garden Re-Leaf Day monies will go towards the Greenfingers ‘Rosy Cheeks’ appeal – which aims to raise £750,000 over two years to fund the creation of at least ten more children’s hospice gardens; giving children and families who use the hospices a chance to spend precious time together in a natural, beautiful environment.
Organisations including The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), The Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA) and The Garden Centre Association (GCA) were active supporters of Garden Re-Leaf day. Sector suppliers including Scotts Miracle-Gro, Mr Fothergill’s, William Sinclair, Westland Horticulture, Kelkay, Solus, Smart Solar, Richard Jackson’s Flower Power, Pleydell Smithyman, Bon Bon’s, Neudorff, Gardman and Briers also gave financial donations towards Garden Re-Leaf Day’s marketing ‘fighting fund’.
Keep up with the latest Garden Re-Leaf Day news at www.gardenreleaf.co.uk, or follow @GardenReLeaf on Twitter. To find out more about Greenfingers visit www.greenfingerscharity.org.uk