Attending Glee, the leading garden and leisure industry show, was a great opportunity for Nathan Dodd to spot trends and anticipate products that will come onto the market in the near future.
When I was walking around the stands at this year's exhibition at the NEC, I had the chance to talk with current as well as potential suppliers about new products and what they thought the future holds in the garden industry.
Two subjects kept cropping up, one concerned the development of garden centres and the other focussed on the nature of the products we offer.
Firmly established as part of our garden centre in Birmingham is the award winning Garden Room coffee shop where outstanding food quality and service is key to its success.
Once seen as an adjunct to the business, the range of food, how its served, and the ambiance of food outlets must continue to improve so they become established as a destination in their own right.
The recent very hot weather only emphasizes another trend that will only continue to gain momentum, and that is outdoor merging with indoor living.
This is exemplified from the increasing amount of outdoor furniture, sofas, armchairs etc, we are selling that resemble those found in your living room but made from weatherproof materials.
Other garden furniture in teak, rattan, metal, and plastic will again enhance people's gardens next year, and of course you have the continuing popularity of barbecues and built-in kitchens.
There's no doubt that modern garden are becoming smaller and this has created another trend, that of miniaturization, with smaller ornaments in demand such as those from Vivid Arts and Enigma. They may be compact but, due to their detailed design or colourful nature, lack nothing in impact.
On the other hand, large resin ornaments that enable dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to roam your flower beds also continue to sell in increasing numbers.
Traditional ornaments such as water features show no sign of slowing, possibly as the result of people spending more time outside and wanting a focal point that offers so much interest.
We sell an impressive range of sheds and other garden buildings through GardenSite and from our garden centre, an increasing number of which are made from plastic.
There's no reason why this trend should not continue with advances in technology making plastic sheds even more durable and maintenance free, with larger structures such as garages becoming ever stronger and used for a great many activities other than storage.
Finally, instant gardening and immediate delivery will continue to make demands, driven no doubt by television programmes that turn wildernesses into Chelsea winners over a weekend.
These are certainly developments we must as a business address in order to satisfy our customers and attending shows such as Glee offers offers a tremendous opportunity to anticipate and keep up with these trends.