Horticultural stories from Pandemic 2020: Pineview Plants

Pineview Plants hadn’t had the best start to the year, with the incessant rain making van access to the nursery, nearly impossible.

Image: Pineview Plants
Image: Pineview Plants

A couple of early plant fairs that I might have attended with my early shade plants were cancelled due to storm warnings.

Then in early February, Storm Ciara removed the polythene and the shade netting from my polytunnel and exposed all my ‘dry’ stock, boxes of pots etc to the elements.

Tidying and clearing took a fair bit of time but I was fortunate to receive help from friends which was much appreciated, (the cover however, wouldn’t be replaced until the middle of April!).

At the end of February we had a week's holiday, and on our return, in the first week of March, we took delivery of plants and ferns (about 1000).

Then in the next week ‘lockdown’ was announced, and two of our main plant fairs for the year, the three-day RHS Wisley one, and Great Dixter, were both cancelled.

On the upside (!) it gave us more time for (open air) potting! Trying to find space for all the potted plants was a problem though, as some of that space would have been provided (hopefully) by sales at these, now cancelled, events!

Historically 95% of our turnover would be from plant fairs throughout the year either the majority of those organised by Plant Fairs Roadshow (of which I’m the event co-ordinator, and it’s been heart-breaking having to cancel events) and a couple of Rare Plant Fair events plus a few independent ones.

The other 5% was mail order of Epimediums, which fortunately we had started doing last year. So, to say things weren’t looking too rosy was an understatement.

However, all of a sudden we started getting enquiries about mail order. The fact that garden centres had closed obviously helped but a lot of the plants in these ‘wish lists’ wouldn’t have been found in too many garden centres. My cardboard box-packing skills had to improve very quickly!

From the nursery point of view, whilst not replacing the income that the Wisley, Dixter and other events would have generated, they’ve certainly kept the wolf from the door!

Hopefully, some plant fairs may be possible towards the end of the year, but who knows? In the meantime I’m going to explore making my website more mail order friendly!

By Colin Moat of Pineview Plants - https://www.pineviewplants.co.uk/

  • If you would like to share your experience of the Pandemic 2020 and the impact it has had on your horticultural business, please send it and/or any pictures to hortweek@haymarket.co.uk (please no press releases or PR)

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