As AG team members check out their local reopened garden centres, what are your experiences of your local outlets?

They’re open! After weeks of closure and concerns about redundancies and millions of plants being dumped, England’s garden centres reopened on Wednesday, May 13. That morning, AG team members Garry Coward-Williams, Ruth Hayes and Wendy Humphries went to their local outlets to see what was occurring.

They were expecting massive queues and punch-ups over the petunias. Were these expectations met or was it a much more serene affair?

Queuers respecting social distancing at Redfields Garden Centre

Garry checked out Redfields garden centre at Church Crookham, Hampshire and things didn’t get off to a brilliant start when it opened half an hour later than stated on the website.

He said: “For all the people shivering in the queue it was a little disappointing to discover they had decided to change that to 9am, but didn’t bother to notify those outside. Perhaps they had not provided the proper information on their site and were unaware of this.

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“Either way the 30 or so people were pleased to finally move their freezing limbs into the warm and seek out the gardening kit they had been deprived of buying since the lockdown.”

He added that once inside the centre was well organised, with a one-way system allowing shoppers navigate all elements of the store.

The garden centres, like this one at Redfields, are well-stocked and well organised

Garry said: “People have got used to social distancing and really, it was no different to being at the supermarket. I was finally able to get a couple of bags of horticultural grit to finish off the rock garden we’ve created since the lockdown plus a some Tomarite, so I can start feeding my spuds for their final six weeks.

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“Well done Redfields for opening up, but you could improve info on the web if you want to avoid customers waiting in the cold unnecessarily.”

Ruth popped to her local weekly market, which had several plant stalls in pre-lockdown days and has remained open since for fruit and veg stalls.

Plant sellers have returned to Ruth’s local market

She said: “One plant stall had returned and was doing a brisk trade. As more and more stall are turning up each week, hopefully it won’t be long until the other local nurseries, who operate at the market, will be pitching up again.”

Ruth also checked out her nearest garden centre at Poundbury on the outskirts of Dorchester.

She said: “I was expecting a massive queue but there were only about 10 people in front of me and as they are allowing 30 people in at a time, I was in pretty quickly.

There was only a small queue initially when Poundbury gardens reopened after lockdown

“The one-way system worked well and the tills have been set up for maximum protection for staff and customers. One woman who worked there said they had been anticipating a mad rush of people so were glad it was quieter, though I expect the weekend will be busy, especially if the weather stays fair.”

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Wendy’s nearest garden centre is Haskins in Ferndown near Bournemouth. On the morning it opened she reported a few people queuing outside and there still wasn’t a mad rush the following day.

Queues forming outside Haskins garden centre in Ferndown

Wendy said: “It’s still a trickle, about four in the queue but feeding through quickly.

“The car park less than half full compared to how it usually is – so many people go there for the restaurant, which is obviously closed.”

What have you experienced at your local garden centres now they have reopened? Let us know via amateurgardening@ti-media.com

 

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