Spring in the air at garden centres

The first warm weekend of the year saw garden centre plantareas start to stir, but it is early days yet, say owners.

Image: RHS
Image: RHS

Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said: "[It's] started but not quite spring has sprung yet because it's still too cold to get the casual gardeners out."

He added that it was only because Easter was early that plant sales were being discussed. Good Friday is on 25 March.

Bunker said he believes March will be slightly up on last year and "if we do get what they are forecasting for Easter then it could be good as long as its talked about".

Squires managing director Dennis Espley said: "There were definite signs of growing interest in gardening product, with more activity last weekend. It was a disappointing week, as have last three been. Catering is still good. Activity has not shown in cash sales, it's still a little chilly, but it's good to see the sun and forecast improving."

Temperatures hit double figures for much of the UK at the weekend, with some areas enjoying Britain's warmest day of the year so far with highs of 16C (60F).

And the Met Office predicted the warmer weather would last for the next seven to 10 days, but forecasters are undecided whether the weather will be good or bad at Easter.

Meanwhile, the RHS held it's first outdoor show of the year last weekend. The first RHS on tour show, held at Wimbledon Farmers' Market was better received by nurseries than its predecessor, Secret Sundays, which began and ended in 2015.

Further 'on tour' events, featuring the new RHS VW van, include farmers markets at Parliament Hill (30 April), Blackheath (15 May), Colombia Rd (19 June), Lambeth (16-17 July) and Marylebone (11 September).

Nurseries taking part included Daisy Roots, Floyds, Hare Spring, Jacques Amand, Pineview, Plants4Presents, Purbeck, Straight Mile, Swallowfields and W&S Lockyer. There was also a talks area and advice tent.

The first finalist in the RHS product of the year is Mr Fothergill's GroTray.

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