WARSAW, Poland: The 29th Green is Life show and its satellite event Flower Expo Poland, held between 1-3 September 2022 in Warsaw, helped to build togetherness in times of uncertainty.
True to tradition location, the trade show was staged at Warsaw’s EXPO XXI Warszawa convention centre. The 3-day event – with a strong focus on nursery stock – attracted 156 exhibitors from nine countries and 9,500 industry professionals from Poland and abroad.
Organisers the Polish Nurserymen Association and the Agencja Promocji Zieleni (Greenery Promotion Agency) describe their show as what in nearly thirty years has become an important fixture in the calendar of those active in ornamental horticulture.
Green is Life remains a nursery stock-focused show with 65 per cent of the exhibitors showcasing their latest in trees, shrubs and perennials. This year, there was also a large area dedicated to tools and machinery, pots and packaging.
Several exhitors shared booth space – including those representing production regions and/or announcing the wholesale nursery stock fair to be held in the late autumn of 2022. Some suppliers made their presence at stands of companies with which they cooperate on a daily basis, so one could spot a significantly higher number of brands than the number of exhibitors would indicate.
Traditional prizes (Laurels) were granted – in two categories – for the most attractive displays and the best ones in terms of the marketing strategy. The recipients of the most valuable, Golden Laurels were Kurowski Nurseries (category “Plants”) and ICL (“Technology”).
The exhibition attracted 9,500 people, of which 4,948 trade visitors. “This time, most of the professionals showed up on the second and not – as in other years – on the first day of the exhibition, which may have had to do with the inauguration of the school year in Poland on 1st September”, candidly admits director Joanna Filipczak. “However, this did not affect the overall turnout and the interest of the visitors”, she adds.
The majority of the industry visitors represented the management of companies that operate in the green business, with the owners of these enterprises dominating. In terms of professional profile, the largest group comprised plant producers (30%), followed by people associated with: landscape architecture or garden contracting (22.5%); retail sales – garden centres, garden stores, DIY or supermarkets (13.5%); administration, municipalities (11%).
The visitors came form 25 countries. Most foreigners arrived from Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania, Estonia, Serbia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The interest in the exhibition was also generated by its accompanying events, such as the “Knowledge for Traders and Growers” seminar (held on Day 1 and attended by 262 people) as well as the Green City conference (attended by 419 participants on Day 2).
Those who were unable to make it to Warsaw on September 1-3, could follow the video coverage of the Trade Fair Studio, which operated for the second time during the Green is Life exhibition. As of September 4, 2022, 6045 viewers had watched it on social media and You Tube (the number has been steadily growing as the recording is available online). The streaming from the Green City conference was followed by 1782 people from Poland and abroad.
The atmosphere of this year’s exhibition was different from the previous one. “September 2021 featured the great joy of the meeting, after pandemic restrictions and the long break”, recalls Joanna Filipczak. The positive mood was also driven by the extraordinary boom in the green industry and good prospects”, the director of the exhibition adds. This year, the demand for plants is lower, but comparable to that in 2019; however, nurserymen and retailers have obvious worries about the future”, J. Filipczak concludes.
As usual, the business talks at the Green is Life exhibition were mainly about the products sought and orders to be placed. “Conversations at the booths were concrete and satisfying. At the same time, they helped strengthen trade relationships, which is particularly important in periods of market turbulence and uncertainty”, assesses Joanna Filipczak. Therefore, the 2022 meeting of exhibitors and visitors in Warsaw contributed more than before to evaluating the market situation, exchanging opinions, formulating problems, expressing concerns, looking for solutions and new ideas, which are easier to come up with in conversations with other industry members.
The special role of regular customers was discussed at the “Knowledge for Trade and Growers” seminar by the highly respected speaker Erwin Meier-Honegger from Switzerland. His lecture was entitled “Options for garden centre business models in the new digital environment.” His most important message for retailers was, however, the advice not to copy global “mandatory” solutions, but to focus on plants, quality products and traditional excellent service, as well as on authenticity in dealing with customers – the tools of the digital era are only one of the options to choose from, not a condition for a garden centre success.
Several Polish nurserymen are in urgent need of new clients, following the loss of Russian customers as the consequence of Russia’s war waged against Ukraine. Chairman of the Polish Nurserymen Association Wiesław Szydło notes that Green is Life exhibition provides an opportunity to look for new export destinations, to establish contacts with hitherto unknown buyers, who this year came in quite considerable numbers from the Baltic States, Romania and Serbia.
This year’s event marked jubilees of a number of a few exhibiotors. The 40th anniversary was celebrated by the two-generation Szmit Nursery (Szkółka Szmit), known for its wide range of ornamental plants, including many rarities. Thirty years of the breeding work of Szczepan Marczyński (more than 50 Clematis varieties) was highlighted by the nursery Clematis Source of Good Vines (Clematis Źródło Dobrych Pnączy Sp. z o.o. Sp.k.), which he founded together with Władysław Piotrowski in 1988.
Two companies celebrated their 25th birthdays: Agro-Sur, a manufacturer and contractor of turnkey greenhouses as well as of garden centers, and Chomik, which started with trading jars and in 2022 will offer an assortment of more than 10,000 items.
Care for tradition mingled with manifestations of recent trends, such as diversification of the plant assortment, introduction of new production divisions or sales channels (e.g., e-commerce, social media, own You Tube channel) by new generations of nurserymen, who co-manage the operations in the family businesses.
Now in its 14th year the Green is Life Best in Show Awards celebrate the high standards that have been achieved by growers who, by participating in the contest, demonstrate their commitment to quality flower and plant growing.
This year, the gold medal went to Szmit Nursery (Szkółka Szmit) for Cercis canadensis ETERNAL FLAME. Silver medals were handed to three exhibitors: Ornamental Shrubs Nursery Pudełek (Szkółka Krzewów Ozdobnych Pudełek) – for Rhododendron ‘Anna’, Piech Nursery – for Hydrangea quercifolia EDITIONS® JETSTREAM™, and Vitroflora Group of Producers (Vitroflora Grupa Producentów Sp. z o.o.) – for Buddleja davidii BUTTERFLY CANDY® LITTLE RUBY. Bronze medals went to: A&M Kałuzińscy Nursery (A&M Kałuzińscy Szkółka Polskie Korzenie) – for Juniperus conferta ‘Sunflower’PBR, Kurowscy Nurseries (Szkółka Kurowscy) – for Physocarpus opulifolius MAGIC BALL, and Daglezja Artur Maj Ornamental Plants Nursery (Szkółka Roślin Ozdobnych Daglezja Artur Maj) – which presented Panicum virgatum ‘Nosferatu’PBR. In addition to the 7 medals, the jury of the Plant Novelties Competition 2022 granted two special mentions – for Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Snowbird’ (submitted by Szmit Nursery) and Anemone ‘Summer Breeze Snow’PBR (from Vitroflora).
The Journalists’ Award – from domestic and foreign trade media, who voted online (basing on plant photos and descriptions) – honored Buddleja davidii BUTTERFLY CANDY® LITTLE RUBY.
The Online Poll Winner, voted for by a wide audience, was Miscanthus sinensis ‘Polonus’PBR, entered into the competition by Daglezja Ornamental Plant Nursery Artur Maj.
The Green City conference was another highlight of the show. “When preparing the conference programme, we always focus on specific examples, addressed to the audience, who want to learn, but also share their observations, achievements, difficulties”, explains Joanna Filipczak. “The Green City conference is a forum for exchanging experiences, which is very valuable especially now that the topic of greening cities and the implementation of this idea have become such an important issue”, she adds.
Among this year’s presentations, in line with the expo’s ‘Naturally’ tagline and contemporary trends, were lectures on urban greenery and the process of turning concrete buildings into lush green oasis.
Landscape architect Martha Schwartz from the US was the keynote speaker at the conference, as a part of the Green Cities Europe programme, which is implemented in Poland by the Polish Nurserymen Association. In her online presentation “Cities of the future and the urban landscape”, she confronted the audience with the drastic effects of the global warming on the Earth and made people aware how fast it is progressing. She testified that landscape architecture should play an essential role in mitigating further climate change and should be the starting point of any urban constructions or infrastructure projects. She stressed that no moment should be wasted. Green is life!
The expert debate, entitled ‘Preparation of the investment process – investor, designer, contractor’ – in which representatives of the three segments of greenery projects implementation tried to jointly identify the problems and challenges relating to this proces.