Seabrook On... Sensible pricing levels

One of the big retail chains has flower seeds on sale at 25p a packet, while one of the specialist mail-order companies has six nigella plants on offer at £15 plus £4.95 carriage charges.

How on earth is the new entrant to gardening supposed to navigate their way through this unbelievably wide range of prices?

We often read in these pages complaints about low wage rates for gardeners and workers in the horticultural industry. Surely the starting point has to be value for money to the consumer and yet profitable enough to pay a reasonable living wage.

A number of us give time and product to school gardening clubs in an effort to open the eyes of young people to the benefits of gardening, satisfaction to be gained tending living plants and opportunities
for employment.

While we give this, I see that some of the big names in cooking are offering short classes to primary school-age children — £175 for three-to-four hours (, where the youngsters go home with a tray of seeds to grow their own pea shoots.

Half-a-dozen eight- to 14-year-olds can learn to cook at Pizza for Pros (£30) for an hour-and-a-half (, where kids have fun creating smiling faces with mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and rocket leaves for hair on their pizzas.

At Bents Garden & Home in Glazebury, Cheshire, dog owners can eat in the pet café, where there is one menu for humans and another for dogs. Every dog has its day, so they say, and with prior ordering the dog can have a personally prepared birthday cake (from £19.99).

Trying to buy tickets to get a couple of young people into the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, the cheapest was £84 with entrance at 5.30 on the Thursday evening. How on earth can we sensibly set prices in a world where there appears to me to be no sensible baseline?

The cookery people look to know how to charge and restaurants are opening in my home town at the rate of several every month. Why are we unable to come together and provide gardening packages for homeowners who want a nice garden and also want someone else to do it for them?

People who do not want to cook are well catered for and parents can even offload their children into cookery school.

The GreenThumb franchise works well for lawns, so why not widen the offering to automatically watered container-grown displays, which either look attractive or are productive year round?

Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster

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