Barton Grange Garden Centre (above) and Castle Gardens are the national winners of the 2018 Garden Centre Association’s annual Christmas competition.
The garden centres were judged to have the best festive displays in the country by the organisation and will receive their awards at its annual conference in January, 2019.
Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, said: “This year’s displays were extremely impressive, the best we’ve ever seen, so it was a tough choice when it came to choose the winners.
“The entrants were judged on the innovation, inspiration and excitement created from the way their Christmas products are displayed. The range of products available, accessibility, how easy it is for customers to find and select products and ‘wow factor’ were also taken into consideration in an assessment of the overall commercial proposition.
“We’d like to say a huge congratulations to Barton Grange Garden Centre who won in the Destination Garden Centre (DGC) category and Castle Gardens who won in the Garden Centre (GC) category.”
Entrants in the DGC category were judged by Andy Campbell and entrants in the GC category were judged by Alyson Haywood.
Louise Burks, Director of The Gardens Group, which owns Castle Gardens in Sherborne (above), Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil and Poundbury Gardens in Poundbury, said: “This is another huge achievement for The Gardens Group as a whole as our Christmas displays demonstrate a real team effort across all three sites.
“Everyone works tirelessly to make sure the displays look their absolute best, from the opening in October right up until Christmas, so this accolade means a lot. We’re absolutely delighted to win this national award for the ninth time and I feel this consistency reflects the commitment and creativity of our team, who make the transformation happen from scratch each and every year.”
The area winners in the South Thames area were Ruxley Manor (DGC) and Castle Gardens (GC). In the Wales and West area Whitehall Garden Centre – Lacock (DGC) and Whitehall Garden Centre – Whitchurch (GC) were chosen.
In North Thames, the area winners were Perrywood Garden Centre (DGC) and Sunshine Garden Centre (GC) while St Peter’s Garden Centre (DGC) and Fairways – Ashbourne (GC) were selected in the Midlands area.
Barton Grange Garden Centre (above) (DGC) and Fron Gogh Garden Centre (GC) were selected in the North West and in the North East, Tong Garden Centre (DGC) and Coletta and Tyson Garden Centre (GC) were chosen.
David Fawcett-Ropner, Display Manager at Barton Grange Garden Centre, said: “We put a lot of effort into the planning, preparation and making of our fabulous Christmas displays every year. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on that the customers don’t see, from the buying to the build itself.
“Each year we’ve got to think bigger and be bold and it’s just so rewarding to see this effort and creativity inspiring others.”
The national winners will be given their awards during the GCA’s annual conference at Luton Hoo Hotel, Luton on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire border from January 20 until 23. Places can be booked via www.gca.org.uk.
Andy Campbell, who judged the DGC category, said: “I was lucky enough to judge the Christmas competition for the GCA a couple of years ago. This year, when re-visiting the 24 larger destination centres around the country, it was immediately apparent they had all just got even stronger.
“Nowadays garden centres are highly professional in the way they plan, implement and review their Christmas offer. In fact, I would go further and say they lead the way among retailers in delivering an excellent balance between displays that are clearly aimed at inspiring and helping customers in their own homes, while being commercial and experience driven.
“Key trends I have noticed on my travels and through discussions with the teams that have created these wonderful retail experiences have included: reduced time to build Christmas, high impact displays coupled with simplified product merchandising along with a greater focus on facilitating customers to serve themselves.”