Horticulture Week Podcast: Pennard Plants looks forward to its tomato showcase at Chelsea and an autumn of grow-your-own supply challenges

Well-known Somerset-based edible plants nursery Pennard Plants is planning a swansong at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in September with seed breeders Burpee, collaborating on a display of tomatoes based around the forthcoming book 'Ten Tomatoes That Changed The World' by William Alexander.

The nursery, which offers one of the largest selections of edible plants, fruit trees and bushes and herbs to be found in the UK, as well as heritage and modern seeds, has seen a doubling of online sales during the pandemic.

But changes in regulations are making some imports, such as seed potatoes, onion sets and garlic from France and Holland, impossible. This could lead to significant pressures come the autumn, owner Chris Smith predicts:

"I'm not sure what's happening there except the fact that the price listed so far as almost doubled in some cases. Whether they'll actually get into the country is the next issue we face so it's going to be a difficult and very interesting time."

Traditionally active in horticultural shows, Smith discusses the changes taking place in the demographics of nursery owners and their customers, suggesting some more of the traditional show exhibitors may be looking to retire as the market shifts from face-to-face to mail order. Newer gardeners, often wanting instant results and minimal intervention are favouring salads, soft fruit and perennials.

However, he is looking forward to his last Chelsea where he will once again be promoting grow your own, which he says has taken off again because of food security, provenance and potential Brexit-led shortages.

Finally Chris tips the yacon as a plant for the future, as he looks ahead to life without shows at his walled garden nursery near Shepton Mallet.

This Horticulture Week podcast is produced by Christina Taylor and presented by Matthew Appleby.

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