Hewson On ... Summer is dead, long live autumn

I have spent much of this dreary soggy summer searching for my "moment to shine", as they say in Olympic-land.

As you can imagine, it has been a tad tricky. And very dreary. Just as well I don't like barbecues.

All that cheery flag waving drives me nuts. There is nothing quite so tedious as the English trying to look cool. And the sight of Andy Murray blubbing like a baby put the tin hat on it.

Anyway, roll on autumn, I say. Plenty of moments to shine there, in all that wondrous colour. It's just fab. Summer is overrated - especially this one. Ask any grower or retailer.

No sales. Nothing. Nowt. Nada. Ziltz. It's a real deal-breaker. As if coping with a double-dip recession isn't tragic enough. All those 50-quid notes going to waste.

Here's the thing. It could get worse - much worse. This is because 75 per cent (yep, a staggering 75 per cent) of garden retail (that's plants) is ridiculously squeezed into three crazy months of the year. That'll be March, April and May - and a pinch of June if you are lucky.

And if the sun don't shine, forget it. Because you know what? Those sales ain't coming back. Not now. Not never. No more moments to shine there.

Only an industry as mad as ours could rely on three months out of 12 to survive. It's crazy. It's just not sustainable, because any more years like this and we are all down the pan. Good and proper.

Anyway, rest easy, for a solution is at hand. We cancel summer and head straight to autumn. Why not? Because autumn can be the new spring. The plants look great, all "kiss me quick" shiny and new, stuffed full of juicy roots seeking their moment to shine. And it's the best time to plant. By far.

Of course, it'll never work. Unless things change. Unless we change. All of us. It'll be pretty easy for the growers because they are ankle deep in great plants asking to be sold. And gardeners are easily led - okay, the "marginals" may take that little bit longer.

But retailers will have to wise up and stop destocking come September. They'll need to take a closer interest in plants and stop selling Christmas tat before 1 December. Think about it. Think about all the 50 quids you have missed this year.

Andrew Hewson is a freelance writer and columnist.


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