How will drought affect your business?

HW polled exhibitors at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show after predictions of the driest summer for 80 years.

"We sell only one type of plant so we can't point customers in the direction of something else. I don't know if it's going to be a difficult summer, but I haven't seen any sign of trade dropping off yet.

"We have done three shows since BBC Gardeners' World Live and it hasn't been an issue. But obviously as the summer goes on it might cause a problem because drought tolerance is not an option for us.

"Generally, we don't use mains water, we use lagoons, but over the past month we've been topping up with mains water every night, which is obviously an added expense."

- Martyn Flint, manager, Chrysanthemums Direct

"Grasses do absolutely fine in a drought because they are in that group where once they are established they need very little maintenance and low watering.

"Customers regularly spend a load of money on bedding that dries out and eventually they decide they have done it for the last time and choose to go for something which is easier and more satisfactory.

"If you spend money on plants and they don't perform well it is irritating. If anything, it's good for our business when we have a hot dry summer. We do get people who are fed up with bedding."

- Neil Lucas, owner, Knoll Gardens

"I'm sure that if there is a hosepipe ban there will be an impact because people are bound to slow down with their planting.

"However, it's an opportunity because there are drought-resistant plants and for garden centres there are lots of products that they can promote, so we will just have to change the focus and be a bit nimble footed.

"Production is more long term but we will probably switch the focus and show off more drought-resistant plants like Coprosmas."

- Jo Davey, marketing manager, John Woods Nurseries

"We are desperate for rain in Norfolk. We are on very sandy soil so we are now thinking of irrigating unless we get some serious rain.

"It wasn't an issue but with everything in Norfolk being about two weeks behind, a lot of the reds seem to shrivel with all the heat we have had in the past fortnight, which means you need to get the cut flowers on really quickly.

"A lot of the older roses we specialise in will cope in drought, but it may well keep a few gardeners away from the garden centres."

- Simon White, customer service manager, Peter Beales

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