Dixon on ... cheaper plants - but who wins?

The British are used to cheap fruit and vegetables. Decades of politicians have survived by holding down the general cost of food, and recently the supermarkets have striven to follow suit. Does this mean people want cheaper plants in their garden centres as well?

Certainly those of the gardening public that are paid up members of the RHS or the National Trust have perverse attitudes to plant prices. Normal supply-demand economics do not apply here. This is feel-good hobby-spending that equates price and quality.

Who then gains from the campaign for reduced VAT on garden plants? It might not even matter if the RHS is successful or not, the winner is still horticulture at large. Simply keeping the industry and its social values in the limelight has immeasurable benefits. For far too long the Treasury has understood little about horticulture and cared even less. The RHS deserves sustained support and, doubtless, that is already coming from the HTA and HDC, and hopefully the landscaping sectors, too.

Support is also needed from across the industry and from the retail outlets. Supermarkets, multiples, garden centre chains and small retail nursery people have contributions to make. Forming a general public opinion that plants are beneficial is vital. That will happen only if the retail goods are high-quality, healthy and fairly priced. Building an image of equitable trading is essential.

The general public needs help and advice in choosing its plants. Retail staff need the knowledgeable confidence that prevents customers from buying acid-loving plants for a chalky locality. Retail managers need the competence that prevents stocking cold-susceptible bedding plants in frost-prone areas.

The price of a plant should also fairly reflect its value - not as seen recently in a West Midlands garden centre, which charged £14.99 each for hollyhocks. Hobby spending does not mean ripping customers off.

- Professor Geoffrey Dixon is the managing director of GreenGene International


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Dazzling display of new plants at Four Oaks Trade Show 2017

Dazzling display of new plants at Four Oaks Trade Show 2017

A wide range of first-time exhibitors and established names will showcase a wealth of new varieties at September's Four Oaks Trade Show, says Matthew Appleby.

Product and service showcase

Product and service showcase

Fresh solutions to production problems can be found among the array of products and services being introduced at the Four Oaks Trade Show, Sally Drury reports.

Four Oaks Trade Show 2017 - Exhibitor List

Comprehensive list of the exhibitors at this year's show and where to find them.


Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Welcome to this bumper 72-page July edition of Horticulture Week magazine, packed with exclusive analysis, insight and expert advice on the biggest issues impacting all sectors of the UK horticulture industry right now.

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

At the time of writing - a few days after the general election - sterling has weakened and we still have no idea of what Brexit means.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles