Trading resumes on Wednesday, May 13 with strict safety guidelines in place

There were sighs of relief all round when the Government announced that garden centres In England could re-open on Wednesday, May 13, two days after their Welsh counterparts.

As well as allowing millions of gardeners to get their plant fix after weeks of withdrawal, it means that a vital lifeline has been thrown to the gardening industry that was starting to buckle under the weight of financial losses.

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Around 650 businesses produce ornamental crops for garden centres and wholesale suppliers and employ more than15,000 people directly, 30,000 indirectly. The collapse of the industry would be catastrophic and could wipe up to £1 billion off the UK economy.

Although the garden centres will be open for horticultural purposes, their play areas, shops, cafes and restaurants remain closed for now.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarshsays it is ‘such a relief’ that garden centres have reopened

After the news was announced, broadcaster and former AG deputy editor Alan Titchmarsh said: “This is our prime time for planting bedding and it is such a relief to the growing industry that people have a full month where they can go out and buy their bedding plants.

“Mercifully we have got this full month as we normally don’t plant out bedding until late may or early June, so thank goodness we have this month otherwise it would be too late than they would all be dumped.”

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Alan, who favours ‘a bit of brightness back into our lives’ did warn that frosts are still possible to hold fire and keep some fleece to hand to throw over them at night.

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) chairman, James Barnes, said: “We welcome the UK Government’s announcement that garden centres will be allowed to reopen from Wednesday.

Garden centres are reopening meaning millions of bedding plants have been saved from dumping

“We are in peak season, when 70% of plants sold are between March and June. Opening garden centres this week in England will be applauded by millions of gardeners and the garden industry. This is not only a positive economic move but gardening benefits the mental health and well-being of so many people isolating at home and the importance of having something to do at home keeps you at home.”

Mr Barnes added that to keep shoppers and garden centre staff safe, special guidance has been put in place by the HTA to cover all aspects of trading as lockdown eases and that shoppers should check their local garden centres are open before travelling.

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There is also a website called Plants Near Me (plantsnearme.hta.org.uk) where gardeners can check that their local centre is open or has signed up to the HTA’s Safe Trading Guidance.

Alan Titchmarsh is delighted garden centres are reopening because ‘we all need a bit of brightness’ in our lives

The HTA is also seeking urgent talks have been sought with the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to come up with an opening process for their garden centres too.

  • Will you be first in the queue or will you wait for the crush to die back? And what will your first purchase be? Tell us at amateurgardening@ti-media.com

We are here for you

Although many people are coping well with self-isolation, others are really struggling and feeling completely forgotten and alone.

Here at AG we are doing our best to keep connected to our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com

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We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello – we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

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So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello – the Instagram feed is in it’s really early days so the quicker we can get that going with your help and support, the better!

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