Reader Panel - What impact will low rainfall have on the garden industry?

The Environment Agency has warned that water restrictions are still possible despite a wetter December.

We asked a range of interested parties how they think water issues will hit horticulture in 2012.

Drought coodinator

"All areas of England and Wales received 100 per cent or above long-term average rainfall in December. River flows increased but in some parts soils are still relative to groundwater levels over the remainder of the winter.

"The Midlands and east and south-east parts of England are vulnerable to drought this spring and summer. Customer restrictions on public water supplies remain possible."

- Helen Vale, assistant national drought coordinator, Environment Agency


"We had a wet December but restrictions are still likely this year. Given how dry it has been and is forecast to be, unless the weather turns wet over the next six months, then hosepipe bans will be inevitable next year.

"We're working on a pilot project with a couple of water companies, hoping to pre-empt hosepipe bans.

"The water companies are careful about getting involved but we've made significant progress getting them around the table."

- Gary Scroby, policy manager, HTA


"It's too early to say. We need to wait until about the second week in March to have a better indication. February can be a very wet month.

"But going on the moisture levels in my garden, those areas that are looking for subterranean water are likely to be short.

"It is very dry in Essex. I've been watering with a view to getting the ground moist so water goes in when it does rain."

- Peter Seabrook, Horticulture writer


"From a business functionality point of view, we're no more heavily reliant on water than anyone else.

"But we have a few products in our range based around the need for water conservation so we see this as a opportunity as far as sales are concerned.

"I don't think that water shortages will stop people gardening. Gardeners aren't that susceptible. They put up with all sorts of environmental challenges and get round them."

- Jane Lawler, marketing head, Gardman.

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