IPM Essen Germany
IPM officially stands for, International Plant Messe (Fair) however, after attending this show I contend that it should be called the “International Plant Maze”. At the risk of revealing my directional challenges, I felt like a rat in a giant maze. The show is large and spread out over 16 halls that are interconnected in not so logical ways, at least for this American.
However, in true German fashion, they do, supply everyone with a large handy map of the over 24.2 acres of foot-blistering space and there are signs located throughout the halls to help navigate amongst the 1500 exhibitors from 50 continents. With the expected 55,000 visitors one must be prepared before setting out on a mission on the show floor to seek whatever it was that brought you here.
The weather was miserable but bear in mind this was Germany in January, so I expected as much coming from Miami. But you don’t come to this event to sightsee or visit the beach; you come because, according to their public relations department, this has become the most important Horticulture show in the world. Based on the amount of people in the halls and the quality of exhibitors and their booths, I cannot deny the excitement.
For an American wholesaler I can imagine the only reason to invest time and money into travelling here would be to see what is going on in the International markets and perhaps to bring the spouse on a trip to a foreign city. The timing of the show however, makes it impractical, if not impossible, with its proximity to Valentine’s Day in America. As a result I did not cross paths with many I would recognize. But that is one reason I thought it was worth my time to attend and share my thoughts and images with my readers.
Since I am not a buyer or seller of floral products, my perspective of what is new or important to the floral world is left to the reader to decide. I attempt to seek out new and interesting products or companies that are interested in selling to the US markets. Clearly this show is geared to the European, Russian and Eastern markets with all types of horticultural products – from automated planting machines to products for your home.
This show, in my opinion, is not the best place to see products for the cut flower industry as it is geared more to bedding, landscaping, breeding, and point of sale material. There are better shows for Westerners involved in floral. IPM is surely an International show and since there were Country-sponsored booths, one could easily feel like they were in Italy, Poland or France, based on the language and what they were drinking.
If you are not used to strong coffee I recommend asking for tea. If you are the guest of nearly any exhibitor’s booth you will likely be offered coffee and it is, simply put, strong. After a day in the hall I was awake half the night.
On the “new” scale I thought that the cut kalanchoes were particularly interesting. Queen of Denmark was showing these and they claim they are able to get 40cm sizes. I can imagine that there are other potted flowers like cyclamen for example, that might make lovely cuts if they can achieve good vase life and a stem length of 40cm or greater.
I have to admit the displays of Primroses fascinated me with their stunning colours. I do not recall ever seeing so many colours and varieties. What a lovely blooming plant! Petite, delicate and stunning. I wish I could have taken them home.
Giant bonsai trees with trunks the size of a small car, ok a really small car, but so large you need a truck to take them home. There were biological bees on display and even giant snails whose purpose, I am not sure, was to eat or be eaten.
Grand topiaries of all kinds from many areas and hard goods of all types adorned the halls.
As an veteran of many shows I have gained a unique perspective on how these operate and how one must operate within them. If you are a shy person I suggest you will need to “bolden up” your character if you want to enter the borders of an exhibitors’ space. The alternative might be to pin 100 Euros on your clothing or wear a hat that says, “WalMart Buyer” and doors will open.
There are booths that were overflowing with visitors and I am not sure what they were giving away, but it appears many had to have it. Coffee, beer and tasty treats… all of the above? Then there were booths that seemed to never have more than the lonely, not so smiling, attendant on duty. One certainly hesitates to enter a booth where there are three or four men sitting at a table drinking coffee talking amongst themselves. I will admit that the booths, for the most part, were more open and welcoming than in the past.
I had the good fortune to be travelling with my dear Dutch friend Jaap Kras and, between us, we know many industry people making the dance around the halls much more personal.
As the long day at the show nears closing, around four pm, one can hear the sound of cultural gatherings bubbling up from certain exhibitor’s booths. If you are in good favor with any group you can expect a special beer made from plant extracts, or a taste of Turkish food, or some French wine perhaps, Italian espresso anyone?
I have many images to share and video of this Plant Messe in Essen. I hope you enjoy them.
William “Williee” Armellini