Garden sector on tenterhooks over impact of rain

'It needs to stop raining quickly if we're to have an early start to the season,' says garden trade association director.

Flooding: waterlogged gardens set to have impact on sector’s sales
Flooding: waterlogged gardens set to have impact on sector’s sales

Gardening sales will start to be hit this month if recent heavy rain continues, with many gardens waterlogged, Garden Industry Manufacturers Association director Neil Gow has said.

"It's going to be a month before we can start gardening depending on where you are in the country. It needs to stop raining quickly if we're going to have an early start to the season. Garden centres can make sure they're ready and waterproof the business but there's not a huge amount they can do," he added.

"They need to be less reliant on spring from a horticultural point of view. Spring weather has been extreme for the past few years and autumn has been more consistent." He said the industry needs to address more autumn planting and less reliance on spring sales.

Former Buckingham Nurseries general manager Mike Easom said: "The big worry at the moment is the ground being so wet, so it's very hard to garden. It's going to take a long time for the ground to dry out. But people are still buying plants."

Taylors Bulbs director Adam Taylor said: "This wet has to stop pretty soon. If the weather continues like this for too much longer it will start to impact."

Whetman Pinks managing director Carolyn Bourne said her company's dianthus was in Waitrose from 25 January "but we felt they probably wouldn't sell". She added: "People won't put them in the ground but they might put them in the glasshouse."

Bransford Webbs managing director Geoff Caesar added: "The wet has not affected us yet because it's so early in the season. We'd expect to start seeing things really pick up in mid March and a lot can change before then. Stock is looking very good compared to how it did last year, when it looked like it had been cold stored."

Mr Fothergill's retail marketing manager Ian Cross said sales fell off a fortnight ago after a strong January. "Now it needs to take off in the next few weeks. Retail starts mid to end of February. Us and other seed companies have our fingers crossed."

Weather impact - Boots up, bird food down

Sales of wellington boots have doubled during the recent prolonged period of wet weather.

Briers said sales are twice the level of January 2013, while Town & Country said wholesaler Solus is reordering weekly for each of its distribution centres. Briers representative Andrew Jenkins said stocks "won't last long at the present rate".

However, wild bird food is 23 per cent down compared with a year ago - according to latest GfK figures for December, January and February - because of the lack of snow.

Gardman reported that it is only four per cent down on last year because of 150 new retailers, including Notcutts, stocking its products.

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