Bedding growers report bedding sales "moving through nicely" ahead of bank holiday

Burston Nurseries director James Alcaraz said trade has "not faltered at all" since week 13 in March and like-for-like sales were well up on 2014.

"We’re trying to keep up with demand and get product off the floor as fast as we can. We’re getting extra vehicles to deliver by Saturday."

He said gardeners are watching weather forecasts closely but was reassured that garden centres were giving good advice on protecting plants.

Bryants representative Caroline Shove said bedding was "moving through nicely" and it had been "pretty busy up leading to the bank holiday".

However WD Smith and Son director Michael Smith said sales were "nothing special" because of cold and damp weather, adding: "We’d like to have a little bit more buzz than we have at the moment".

Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said trade was "ok" but he expected to end April 10 per cent down on last year for plant and core gardening sales and he would "be surprised" if many traditional garden centres ended April up. He said trade had dropped a little as poorer weather came in during later April.

The Met Office also forecast "below average" temperatures until May 11, followed by "near or a little below average" daytime temperatures to May 26, with cold nights and frost at times.

RHS advisor Guy Barter advised covering bedding in case of frost.

The British Protected Ornamentals Association said: "The spring weather has been cool and the Easter effect, although welcome, has not totally overcome that. Some nurseries were a little down on trading in March and are only making that up now; many report that trade has been steady and sell through in high percentages, potted bulbs going very well.

"Garden centres and stores are starting to get the urge to jump ahead into the summer bedding. People are ready to go out and plant and the conditions are right for gardening with some bright sunny days. Whilst we can go back indoors, its not possible for the plants and they have to deal with low night temperatures so establishment may be slow with some products.

Now come the big weeks with the bedding trade and starting next week with the Bank Holiday when the forecast is generally changeable with more rain in the west this could have a slowing effect on the 'stores' ordering patterns.

The BPOA promised that "members were in a confident mood, having had a relatively stable few weeks of trading, but there was a lot of work to be done over the next two months before the results of the cool start to the season would be evident".

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