Finally the country is being released from lockdown, albeit with trepidation. I am adopting a positive attitude and hope that we will continue to see improvements. Recently I attended the launch of the Orchid Festival at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. It was good to catch up with colleagues, many meeting for the first time in two years.

I am pleased to say the Strategic Plan for the next five years is complete. It can be viewed on the website.  Collectively, we can build on the strengths of CIH to improve our offer to members.

You will see from the website that we have three dates firmly fixed in the diary. The AGM to be held at the Harrogate Flower Show in April.  After the AGM you will be free to visit the shows attractions. Registrations are now open via the website. The Grand Final of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition will be held at the University of Warwick in May. This central location should give more people the opportunity to attend. The conference in Scotland in the autumn may give you the opportunity to add a few days holiday to the event. Branches are now putting more events in their calendar, so do check out the events pages on the website.

Industry news

New biosecurity controls for imports from the EU are due to be in place in July. Many growers are expressing concerns as to the implementation and ineffectiveness of controls. A public evidence session is due to take place today. This will allow MPs on the EFRA committee to hear the views of the sector about the state of border control in Great Britain, and to put questions to the government about whether they are on track to meet the revised timetable for introducing the checks. 

The fertiliser market is causing concern for many growers. Shortage of raw materials, supply issues and rising costs are putting pressure on businesses when there is an increased demand for home grown crops. The cost of production will be reflected in the retails prices. Sadly the recent attack by Russia on Ukraine is adding to the burden of production.

On a brighter note trade shows are returning to their pre-COVID-19 timetable. Four Oaks trade show scheduled for 6th & 7th September are, for their 50th anniversary, dedicating an area ‘Educate Collaborate and Innovate’ zone. This will feature a series of free-to-attend, interesting and informative practical workshops, and round table sessions across the horticultural spectrum. I am pleased to say that we will be very much involved in the round table discussions, delivering a workshop session and will have a promotion stand. This will give members the opportunity to meet face-to-face and for us to talk to prospective new members.

The recent storms have caused significant damage in the past few weeks, devastating parks, forests and many open spaces. In the past day I have witnessed sunshine, bright blue sky, hail, rain and snow. I am looking forward to the time when we are bathed in sunshine and no longer have to deal with flooded gardens.

Susan Nicholas FCIHort