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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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.
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