It was a message that rang true for many European delegates who are finding that consumers want instant gratification and have neither the time nor the inclination to grow their own. It left those in the packet seed trade pondering on their future as mail order demand increases for garden-ready plants. The speed of change in our and many other industries is frightening and as usual we are following trends in the USA, where plants are bought in full flower and replaced as soon as they fade.
All this is in direct contrast to the messages about sustainability and the need to get out in the fresh air among green leaved plants and getting our hands in the earth, for the good of both our physical and mental health.
Speaking personally, there is no question that after a tough day commuting to London or attempting to get to venues on time travelling via the M25, time spent in the garden most definitely removes stress and gives an opportunity for mind clearing and thinking time. Surely we must soon recoil from the relentless speeding up of all that faces us each day.
Currently all the children at three primary schools are planting up a pot of four Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ bulbs to grow on as presents for Mothering Sunday. These kids love handling moist compost, planting the bulbs and especially watering them.
Right now, of course, they have to be patient. The early arrival of root growth helps, but they still have to wait for six months before they will see any flowers. It does take time to show the children what to do and guide them through the growing season. Somehow we have to find this kind of time. If the packet seed trade is to successfully increase sales levels, then someone at the point of sale has to show consumers how to sow and grow from seed. Alternatively, we have to demonstrate this to children at an age when they will not forget it.
Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster