Has the gardening season started in earnest?

Before the Easter weekend, HW asked growers whether the run-up to the holiday had seen a kick-start to the season.

- "Herb sales have been fantastic. It was a slow start to the year but there have been some good signs over the past couple of weekends.

"Garden centres have been stocking up in a big way for Easter and they have had a very positive approach. We just need a good bit of sunshine now to really cement it.

"But overall I would say that I was very happy. Our new point-of-sale material has proved very effective."

Nick Richards, director, Farplants

- "Plants are moving through from the nursery all right. We're okay. It was a bit slower at the beginning of the year. Last year really kicked off in mid-February, so we're a couple of weeks later.

"In the garden centre we're not down as much as I thought we might be. The odd week we've been quarter of a million down on last year, but you don't notice as much when it catches up.

"I'm not horrified. For Easter in some centres we write to the local authority and they allow us to open the planteria on Easter Sunday. It keeps the customers happy."

Andy McIndoe, managing director, Hillier

- "It has co-incided with availability of stock, but this was the biggest week that we have ever had.

"The run-up to Easter week has more than doubled what we did the previous week so it has spiked in the way that we thought it might. It is that sort of season and long may it continue.

"When we have had a relatively quiet period it means that production is on target, so we can adjust production to cope with a spike like that."

Geoff Caesar, managing director, Bransford Webbs

- "From our point of view, things probably haven't been as busy as we thought they would, but we have at long last seen a good number of our smaller independent garden centre customers ordering now.

"As a business we have actually had a very good run and are probably ahead of where we were last year, but that is probably because the team here has put in a lot of hard work.

"Across the range of our customers many have not ordered as much as they did last year and they are still a bit shy, but given the weather I can understand that.

Ian Ashton, managing director, Lowaters Nursery.

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