Four Oaks

Posted on: December 7th, 2011 by Rob

3th – 4th September 2013

Four Oaks is a commercial horticultural show now in its 43rd year. The venue is a 23 acre nursery site in Cheshire UK, close to the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope. The exhibition covers an area of 13,000m ² under glass with additional outdoor areas.

The last five years have brought a steady growth to the nursery sector, specifically specimen plants and mature stock from across Europe. Massive displays of plant material form the heart of the show, with associated supplies and services from production to point-of-sale. Over 30% of participating companies will be from overseas.

The visitor profile includes commercial growers / grower retailers, garden centres, retailers and farm shops, landscapers, garden designers, local authorities and florists.

HOW THE SHOW BEGAN Four Oaks Nurseries was set up on a 2 acre greenfield site by brothers Stuart and Arthur Coutts in 1964 for the production of bedding plants. The Vicar of Chelford had the foresight to help them source land as he could see potential employment for local people and particularlymarried women in a rural area.

The brothers pioneered the use of supplementary lighting in seedling production, working closely with Manchester University’s Botany Department at Jodrell Bank and Norweb, the local Electricity Board. The first “Four Oaks Open Day” was organised in 1971 by Norweb to promote the use of growing rooms in commercial horticulture. Over 400 local growers visited and 4 trade exhibitors had a presence – one of which, Henry Alty is still here 40 years on.

By 1979, there were around 80 exhibitors and at this stage Four Oaks took over the organisation and it became the “Four Oaks Trade Show”, with myself at the helm. The 1980s were the boom years. Huge numbers of small growers and grower retailers were the backbone of the industry and at this stage the show was one day only. Two years of preview evenings proved the need for an extra day and in 1991 during the last recession the show became a 2 day event which was a turning point. This brought in the European exhibitors with masses of hardy stock, mature trees and Mediterranean plants, changing the profile of the show.

The business was bought by Richard Harding in 2002 which secured the future of the site and the show has continued to prosper with his support. At a time when other shows in the industry are reinventing themselves, Four Oaks goes from strength to strength – “Four Oaks is Forever”.

PAT COUTTS

Event Director


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