Shrub suppliers struggle to meet demand

Garden centres report shortages in supply of traditional A-Z shrubs after seeing their plant stocks sell out in record time.

Plant supplies have been struggling to meet demand - image: HW
Plant supplies have been struggling to meet demand - image: HW

Traditional A-Z shrubs are running short in garden centres after growers reported plants selling out in record time.

Staples such as Buddleja, Cistus, laurels, camellias, holly, and escallonia "you can't get for love nor money", said wholesale nurseries after experiencing the strongest demand for years.

Plants that had their roots frozen last winter are proving hardest to get hold of, but growers and retailers are "making hay while the sun shines" with what they have available. Some nurseries are looking at more imports and bringing in stock from amenity suppliers to fulfil demand.

Garden Centre Plants sales manager Simon Catterall said April sales were 20 per cent up on 2010: "Most years garden retailers ring saying they want ABC. This year they're saying: 'What have you got?'"

He added that the year's stock of Italian plants had sold through, meaning more imports were likely. "We're struggling on herbaceous and shrubs. I've never known a spring like it. Everything is coming together.

"There's been no lull. I've never seen this place as ravaged. Plants are coming through but we're still not keeping up with the pace they are selling."

Garden centre plant supplier Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar said: "There does appear to be a shortage of shrubs. Last winter, people had noticeable gaps in their gardens and that might lead to some growers going back to shrubs."

Caesar said he sold his escallonia stock in a week when it usually takes five. He was 25 per cent up on 2010. "It's helping the bottom line because there is no wastage."

Stan Green, managing director at Fife-based wholesale nursery Growforth, said he was 20-25 per cent up on 2010. "It's been absolutely manic. It's been an incredible three weeks. Shortages are already with us of good A-Z standards. Material is very short."

He said Buddleja were "like hen's teeth", adding: "It's frustrating to have good demand but a lack of supplies. We've got to make hay while the sun shines. The good weather has been the saviour for a lot of growers after two very aggressive long winters."

James Moldon, commercial director at young plant grower R Delamore, said Surfinia and Fuchsia had sold out. He added that growers had a chance to produce another crop if they made a decision in the next week.

"Some people can't get hold of stock. It's more on the shrubby lines. Some lines have sold out," said Moldon.

"Surfinias are definitely in short supply. We sold through very quickly - about 15,000 trays. Trailing Fuchsia has all gone and nepata is all gone. Begonia have sold well too."

INDUSTRY REACTION

- Geoff Caesar, managing director, Bransford Webbs

"We're flat out. It's the strongest demand we've had for the longest period. The weather has been on our side. It's great. Garden centres are having a cracking year."

- Ken Cox, director, Glendoick garden centre

"Plants in short supply are those that had their roots frozen in winter. There is a triplewhammy this year - bank holidays, the hot weather and the bad weather."

- Andy McIndoe, managing director, Hillier

"There are some shortages on some lines. Bedding starts to kick in soon and it is better our stock is out there from our point of view as suppliers. There is enough out there."


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