I am pleased to report that all five countries in membership have now returned to ‘Gardening’ through the opening of our Garden Centres & Nurseries in the UK and Ireland. If a similar situation raises its ugly head again, then hopefully GC’s & Nurseries will be in a better place to cope and will have learned valuable lessons from this period of restraint and isolation. I would suggest that a supermarket food status is worthy of most Horticultural outlets moving forward. It is now self-evident from only two weeks of buying plants at my local nursery in East Sussex (no café) that the rushed stocking of plants and sundries could not meet the appetite of the Gardener. I had never seen my local nursery car park full (ever) and yet day after day it is packed. The usual six benches of Chapel Cottage Herbaceous have been wiped out by local veteran gardeners, while the newbies have been seduced by Toscana Pelargoniums (amazing colours). Vegetables and Herbs were sold out on the first day and have never quite got beyond lunch time any day since, such is the demand. The local manager has never seen anything quite like it and he can see me getting grumpier by the day (visited five times in 14 days) as the herbaceous stock is wiped out and I see people (newbies) buying those plants that were distinctly reserved for me. I thought of contacting those fine professional growers at Hawkesmill, Gedney, Chapel Cottage and Howard, but alas I will remain loyal to my local Nursery (Rose Growers). Bought some dozen bourbon roses in the meantime.
The dates for GC’s & Nurseries re-opening since the 23rd March lockdown, provides food for thought in terms of devolved governments and their collective cohesion on the simplest of matters.
- 11 May Wales
- 13 May England
- 18 May Republic & Northern Ireland
- 29 May Scotland
It is also worth reflecting on the consistent value of Ornamental Production to the UK Economy.
Did you also know that two of the top three European distributors of Horticultural products for the consumer market are British & Irish in Evergreen and Westland Horticulture? While we don’t quite produce the volume of plants as in the Netherlands, we are a close third behind Germany in terms of production of ornamental plants. In terms of E-Commerce we are number one in Europe with such brands as Crocus, Gardening Express, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan. This is unrivalled in any EU member state country. Our Ornamental Industry has good history, strong pillars and has experienced steady revenues over the last five years. The next five years will prove challenging but I think the public now realise the greater worth of Plants, Gardening and Garden Centres. Their appetite for plants is not just undiminished but positively re-invigorated after this ‘plant lockdown’ these last few months.
Gerald Bonner CHort, FCIHort