Tim Edwards is managing director of Boningale Nurseries.
Increasingly, and rightly, plant health/biosecurity is being recognised as something of which all of us involved in plant supply must be aware.
The Government will always look on "horticulture" as a sector within "agriculture" and, when the trade effectively gets its message across, the Government recognises "nursery stock" as a non-edible subset of horticulture.
No one knows the changes that Brexit will impose on the UK over time. Some will surely be massive and they are already being guessed at. But there will be little changes too and some of those will ripple out over time to surprisingly large effect. I don't pretend to know what will happen, but it's fun to speculate.
I voted to remain in the EU and it took me a while to get my head around the fact that we are leaving. I have never doubted that the UK could do well outside the EU. My concern is that to do well the right political decisions need to be made.
The history of Intellectual Property in England is quite fascinating.
Plant health is a subject discussed more and more by nurserymen. The fact that it is now being discussed by landscape contractors too indicates a quantum change in importance.
The National Living Wage (NLW) comes into force next month, increasing the hourly rate for over-25s from £6.70 to £7.20. That rise of almost 7.5 per cent will be the first of several that will ultimately lift the minimum wage above £9 an hour.
Driving into EuroPlants for their Silver Jubilee Spring Open Day last month it struck me that quality sells. They have perfectly cone-shaped yews some 6m high and all manner of shaped trees, shrubs and climbers. Everywhere you cast an eye the nursery stock was superb.
The latest plant health problem to sink its metaphorical teeth into Europe is called Xylella, a bacterium passed between plants by sucking insects and first identified in California as a serious problem on vines and has a history of being taken seriously.
Back in the 1970s, if you had a garden then you probably spent your Sundays in it - there wasn't much else to do back then.
Ash dieback, or more accurately the British public's reaction to it, marked a change in the way we consider plant health.
Manufacturers get excited by the thought of exporting. There is something righteous about the idea - exports help the nation. Imports are the other side of the coin. In the UK, as far as hardy plants are concerned, where we do far more of the latter than we do of the former, we do not get as excited as Italian or Dutch nurserymen at the thought of trade barriers relaxing.
VAT is fairly straight forward - it's 20 per cent. Well, there's no VAT on books or food, but it's 20 per cent on plants. Only, if you're selling a hazelnut plant, which is never going to produce much food, you can sell it without VAT. I guess that goes for herbs too and anything else edible. Is lavender a herb? Perhaps VAT on plants is not so clear-cut.
There is a grey area between sensible regulation and illegal protectionism that makes it difficult to see the line dividing the two.
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