It feels like we've really earned the incoming spring season this year, doesn't it? We've braced ourselves against floods, Arctic blasts, rising bills... You name it, the industry has faced it. But what's so great about the UK's garden centre sector is its resilience. Even in the darkest months of the year, its optimism and ingenuity shines through.

Whether that's hundreds of Garden Centre Association members gathering at the annual conference to celebrate the sheer brilliance of hard work (while raising a load of money for good causes while you're at it) or catering teams pledging innovative solutions in a bid to run their businesses more sustainably. This spring issue is full of positive news, views and ideas to help you find a greener route to business success.

Speaking of sustainability, it'll come as no surprise that when the RHS released its predictions for gardening trends this year, climate-friendly practices dominated. Taking a leaf from the gardeners' ways, caterers might also want to take notes about how some of the big trends can be translated onto menus, interiors and processes. 

For example, the RHS says that health benefits of vegetables with a natural purple hue have attracted more and more attention, but now breeders have begun introducing purple varieties that are easier to grow than traditional ones and avoid previous drawbacks, such as non-fruiting and limited ‘purpleness’, especially after cooking. Gardeners and chefs can anticipate purple carrots, cauliflowers, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, radish, French beans and lettuces.

The association also highlighted 'climate change fruits', saying “recent hot dry summers are ideal for certain fruits, grape vines being an outstanding example – but others include figs, almonds, apricots, melons, peaches/nectarines and watermelons. Of course climate change is highly unpredictable and can also be damaging – including to existing fruits that need winter chilling such as blackcurrants, apples and pears so following this trend should be treated cautiously.”

The RHS team reports that apples, plums, figs, pears and raspberries are the most popular fruit – with apples topping the list and an increase in popularity predicted for 2024. It says the recent surge in patio fruit varieties with dwarf raspberries, blackberries and mulberries will see an increase in patio fruit that will provide gardeners with fresh flavours on their doorstep. Perhaps small growing projects around your catering venues could mean that diners can eat and drink ingredients grown on your doorstep too?