Happy New Year, as we move into the second half of the this decade the industry seems strong and confident. Most of Australia had a great spring with both the landscape and the retail sectors performing well. The weather was on our side but there is also a feeling that gardening is becoming more popular again. As I visit nurseries, garden shows and garden clubs I see an increase in the number of under 50s and there is also a shift to a more holistic approach to the home garden. No longer is it a separate part of the house. The home extends into the garden and in many modern houses the line between the house and garden is blurred.
The initial drive for the shift was an increased awareness and desire for a wider range of edibles. The early gardening shows were really about just gardening with some reports on pets, minor building etc. Now they really are lifestyle shows covering garden, kitchen, pets, tools, renovations and a variety of other topics. At the same time the cooking shows often look closely at the plants and where they come from and the renovation programs connect home and garden. As more people take to growing their edibles they also see the pleasure in having an attractive garden that provides colour and fragrance. They want their gardens to look and feel good. The sounds and sights of local birds add to the garden experience. This desire to attract birds into our homes is also a powerful driver of plant purchases.
At the same time as this is happening Australia has significant population growth. The Victorian population is growing by around 90,000 people a year. This translates to 60,000 new dwellings a year. Which means 60,000 new gardens - sure some are small terraces but some are also old fashioned suburban gardens using lots of old and new plants. It also means a new shopping centre a month and a new industrial estate every few months and bigger and better roads and schools. All these use more plants which keep the wholesalers healthy. Of course we also have the older plants dying and changes in plant fashion meaning more plants being bought.
The future for plant sales is looking bright. Bunnings is still growing, Masters is rolling out new stores every year, Mitre 10 is increasing its sales of greenlife and the shrinking of the independent retailers seems to have stopped. The blending of food and flora in the home garden is being reflected in the garden centres with many becoming 'food' destinations for the true foodie. People are going there to eat and then decide to buy a plant or two The garden centres are now fun places to be. They have exciting plants, great food, interesting gift sections and a good range of home accessories. 2015 is going to be a good year.
This is a happy time of year. Santa has been, the New Year optimism is everywhere and the summer weather is always uplifting. However, as I write this I have just returned from Sydney after the hostage tragedy at Lindt Cafe in Martin Place. We all watched or listened as the whole scenario played out. We all hoped that it would end peacefully but new in our hearts that it wouldn't. Even if no-one had died the lives of those taken hostage would never be the same. They will always feel insecure in public places and be on the edge. On the world stage the size of the siege was small but its effect on our nation was profound. Although it wasn't part of a planned and co-ordinated terrorist attack like New York, London, Madrid it has still rocked our feeling of security in the way we live our lives. Attacking a place where we could all see ourselves is scary but we need to move past this and continue to live our lives as we always have. Like so many disasters in Australia the country pulled together and we all felt for those involved. We again became one nation and showed that we are tolerant and caring. Our thoughts and best wishes go to everyone concerned.
Di and I, along with Simon and Gemma and Martin and Chie wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. We thank you for your support during 2014 and are looking forward to working with your in 2015.