ENA, the European Nurserystock Association, held its summer meeting in Bavaria, Germany, from 1 to 4 September 2021. It was the first face-to-face meeting since the emergence of COVID, and delegates from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey attended the sessions. The German nurseries organisation BdB (Bund deutscher Baumschulen e.V.) hosted the meeting, that was attended by forty delegates.
The initial day was devoted to the Green Cities campaign. The first face-to-face ‘More Green Cities for Europe’ project coordination meeting was held with the country managers from all participating countries. Green Cities Europe is an EU-funded promotion project aiming to inform about the need, usefulness, and advantages of adding more plants in European towns and cities. The programme’s progress was noted, which now has a website available in the languages of the 13 target countries: www.thegreencities.eu. The group also worked on the final process of the second edition of the European Green Cities Award, which already has candidates from ten countries.
One of the topics of the meetings was Brexit. A representative of the legal team of the European Commission explained the details of the implementation of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union, answered questions and collected the improvements proposed by European nurserymen, mainly the enhancement of the pre-export certificate to optimise and speed up the process of obtaining the Phytosanitary Certificate when the exporter and the producer are from two different member states. Another topic covered by the General Assembly was the update of the International Plant Names Lists. The books of the new edition 2021-2025 of the list of names of woody plants and the list of names of perennials will be published later this month.
The delegates reported an exceptional market situation across Europe. A relevant issue discussed by the general assembly was the lack of plants to meet the growing European demand. Fortunately, the booming demand contributes to an appreciable improvement in prices, which had been stagnant for years, and improved buying and selling relationships. Customers are avoiding last-minute purchases, and increasing production under growing contracts to ensure the availability of the plants needed for future projects.
The General Assembly meeting ended with the election of the new board that will guide the ENA association for the next two years. Mr Henk Raaijmakers was elected President, replacing Mr Jan-Dieter Bruns, who has chaired the association for three years. Mr Tim Van Hulle was elected Vice President, and Mr Willy De Nolf was re-elected as Treasurer. The new President thanked Mr Bruns for his achievements during these years, especially since the COVID, and added, “you inspired me with your work and surprised me with your contacts with everybody, everywhere”. Mr Jan-Dieter Bruns, the outgoing President, concluded in his final speech, “it’s been a pleasure serving the European nurseries as President for three years; we have had a great cooperation in the board, and I wish the best success to the new board and all European nurseries”.
The work meetings were followed by different lectures, starting with the current situation in the German nursery sector by Mr Helmut Selders, President of the BdB – the German Nurseries Association – followed by ‘What are the requirements of the garden and landscape industry for nursery suppliers?’ by Mr Mathias Forster of Forster Garten- und Landschaftsbau, and ‘Garden Center – generation next!’ by Oliver Haller, Chief Purchasing Officer of Dehner Garden Centre.
The programme was rounded off by visits to the garden centre and the Grün Logistik of Dehner garden centres, the largest garden centres chain in Germany, the garden centres and nurseries Garten-Land Wohlhüter in Gundelfingen, Haage Baumschule in Leipheim, Gartencenter Kölle in Munich and the garden and landscape construction company Gaissmaier Garten- und Landschaftsbau in Freising. Also in Freising, at the Fachhochschule Weihenstephan (University of Applied Science) ENA visited Weihenstephan Gardens and Arboretum guided by their technical director Ulrike Leyhe. Finally, renowned landscape architect Rainer Schmidt, designing green on several continents, gave the ENA delegates a dynamic guided tour of Munich’s essential gardens and urban and landscape interest areas.