2023 marks the 30th anniversary of Green is Life, an annual exhibition of plants and gardens hosted in Warsaw in late summer. Now that the event’s 30th birthday is approaching, it is clear that the slogan “Green is life” has never been as relevant as it is today. This year’s International Exhibition, Green is Life & Flower Expo Poland, will be held from August 31 to September 2 at Expo XXI Warsaw, Poland.
Behind the success of the Green is Life trade fair, which has been running since 1993, is the determination of the organization- Polish Nurserymen Association. The association, which was started in 1991 by a small group of growers of trees, shrubs, perennials, and climbers, was a dynamic organization that courageously entered the new era of the economy in Poland, grew quickly, and had clearly defined objectives. Among them was the need to promote its own products at its own professional exhibition, which would become a benchmark for participants of the green industry, present a diverse and expanding range of products, set trends and quality standards, fulfill educational goals, attract the attention of landscape architects, urban designers, contractors, garden center owners, wholesalers, importers, as well as consumers, who will boost the retail trade.
From the beginning, Green is Life has been an exhibition aimed at two audiences – professionals (B2B) and hobbyists (B2C)
Contacts, information, common goals
The first chairman of the Polish Nurserymen Association – Jan Grąbczewski, who had a decisive voice in the establishment of the exhibition, recalls the reasons behind the birth of the event 30 years ago. “First of all, we wanted to better get to know one another and one another’s production, especially since cooperation was the only way to meet the foreign orders that were coming in. Secondly, it was a matter of creating a common base that one is aware of and understands. Last but not least, it was about demonstrating one’s (exhibitor’s) power – in those days, more as a market entity than an entrepreneur. Besides, having visited European trade fairs, we knew what they should look like and what they were for, so it seemed only natural to establish such an event at home. Eventually, we decided to organize an autonomous exhibition, on our own terms and with our own forces”.
Direct contacts – exhibitors with visitors and among exhibitors themselves, getting to know participants of the green sector – have been very important. “The great value of Green is Life is that it brings together so many people from the industry in one place and time. It creates a forum for people to meet, learn from each other, and profit from their presence at the show – not always offhand and financially, but in the form of information, news, or materials”, concludes Grąbczewski.
The current chairman of the Polish Nurserymen Association, Wiesław Szydło, mentions the stability of Green is Life as a noteworthy feature of the exhibition. That proved to be an advantage, particularly in recent years of uncertainty due to the coronavirus. “Green is Life was not held in a typical (offline) format, only in 2020. It has a fixed date, at the end of August or the beginning of September, and an established position, which builds trust as well as reliability”, ensures Szydło.
Power of brand and slogan
“There are few events within the green industry that have had as much impact on it as our exhibition,” says Joanna Filipczak, president of the Agencja Promocji Zieleni (Greenery Promotion Agency), a co-organizer of Green is Life since 1998. “The exhibition’s slogan (and name) is gaining strength year by year.” “Many additional valuable activities have been born around that great, 30-year-old initiative of the Polish Nurserymen Association. Conferences, workshops, publications, competitions”, enumerates Filipczak. “They have all been developed thanks to the Green is Life exhibition and its position,” she emphasizes.
Joanna Filipczak reminds us that Green is Life is an exceptional exhibition developed from scratch by professionals, presenting a wide assortment of plants for gardens and green spaces – in their full beauty during the growing season when it is easy to interest both professionals and hobbyists in nursery stock. Plants, accompanied by means of production, accessories for garden contractors, etc., occupy most of the Warsaw exhibition area and – true to its title – make a truly green show.
Influence on domestic and foreign markets
In the three decades of Green is Life’s existence, the horticultural market – both retail and wholesale – has evolved. The exhibition has become an integral part as well as the catalyst of that transformation.
End customers. “The promotion of plants and their rich offer has helped change consumers’ preferences. For example, conifers, so common in gardens thirty years ago, have become less and less important and are now giving way to deciduous shrubs; simultaneously, the popularity of perennials has been growing, and the demand for ornamental grasses is sky-high. There is greater awareness regarding the biodiversity of the nursery stock. At the same time, the requirements imposed by retail customers are increasing. Although they are not business partners, they create the market, so their opinions and expectations really matter.”
Foreign markets. “The exhibition has significantly enhanced nurserymen’s export activities. The meeting of East and West in a central point of Europe, such as Warsaw, has resulted, among other things, in the shipment of Polish plants in both directions. That, in turn, stimulated the development of the nursery stock industry, modernization of production, from which many suppliers of machinery, equipment, etc. also benefited.”
Hallmarks of Green is Life
A number of other activities that have contributed to the boom in the green sector are also associated with the Green is Life brand today. Among them are:
• Green City Conference, which has a 24-year-old tradition, is held during the Green is Life fair and deals with urban greening and amenity plantings (some 240 important topics have been covered so far!). It is conducted in the format of “practitioners for practitioners” and, from the beginning, has influenced the development of Polish agglomerations as well as smaller urban areas.
• Plant Novelties Competition. Held for 19 years, it has also become a permanent part of the sequence of the exhibition events, without which it is now difficult to picture Green is Life. It showcases innovative varieties from Poland and abroad, popularizes interesting plants, indicates trends and fashions, effectively attracts the attention of the media and the general public, is a driving force of the industry, and a powerful promotional tool!
• Catalogue of Plants (Katalog Roślin) – a bestselling, richly illustrated publication that expertly presents an assortment of the most important species and varieties of plants recommended by Polish nurserymen; first published in 2001 – launched at the Green is Life exhibition – was pioneering at that time; it has had five editions in Polish so far (the last one covers 2680 taxa), as well as a Russian-language version. With the development of the Internet, the paper publication – highly valued by, among others, architects who design both gardens and landscape areas – has been accompanied for several years already by the E-Catalogue of Plants (E-katalog roślin), which is maintained online by the Polish Nurserymen Association, contains about 10,000 items, is regularly updated and allows easy access to producers of the nursery stock wanted. A new Catalogue of Plants is scheduled to be released at the next exhibition – with a new, up-to-date assortment available in Poland and with new user-friendly facilities.
• Conferences on the horticultural trade have become integral features of Green is Life too, and are in constant demand. In 1998, the program of events accompanying the exhibition included the conference “Garden center – how to sell better?”, which was a response to the rapid transformation of the retail market in Poland. In the following years, among the speakers providing modern professional knowledge on green business were experts such as John Stanley, Ian Boardman, Roger Crookes, Mathias Donners, Ronald Brand, Eve Tigwell, and Erwin Meier-Honegger.
• Seminars for landscape architects, which offered an exceptional dose of information on the design, composition, and use of plants. Among the speakers were real stars – world-known specialists such as John Brookes, Diarmuid Gavin, Chris Beardshaw, Noel Kingsbury, Niek Roozen, Prof. Karl Ludwig, Luc Behar-Bannelier, Ann-Marie Powell, and Martha Schwartz.
• Flower Expo Poland – a sector of the fair dedicated to cut flowers and floristry, as well as ornamental plants for interior decoration, which joined Green is Life to form a single event, called from 2018 International Exhibition GREEN IS LIFE & FLOWER EXPO POLAND.
• “Green is Life” Exhibition Studio (Studio Targowe “Zieleń to Życie”). Starting from 2021, it broadcasts, records, and publishes on the Internet the video reports on the exhibition, including live sessions.
Central meeting point for the green industry
The organizers of the International Exhibition Green is Life & Flower Expo Poland are preparing this special edition – combined with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the event – with joy and hope. They are aware that their mature trade fair has influenced plant trends, co-created the garden industry market and accelerated its transformation, provided professional solutions, and brought first-hand information and expertise. It has accompanied positive general changes in people’s attitude to greenery, as well as affected institutional operations in this area. The Polish Nurserymen Association and the Agencja Promocji Zieleni intend to continue realizing their ambitious goals and tasks. They want the exhibition, which – like a lens – brings all these initiatives together to strengthen its position as the industry’s central meeting point.
For more information:
Agencja Promocji Zieleni Sp.z o.o., Polish Nurserymen Association
Al. Jana Pawła II 80 lok. 71, 00-175 Warsaw, Poland
Tel.: +48 22 435 47 20 (21-22)
Email: [email protected]