Plants, peat, imports, trends and garden retail best practice with HTA president Alan Down

New HTA president Alan Down talks about high priority issues in horticulture such as biosecurity and peat in the latest Horticulture Week podcast.

The former Cleeve Nursery garden centre owner, writer and TV and radio broadcaster, studied at Cannington and Pershore. He has worked in Germany, for Hillier and on a Nuffield farming scholarship. He and wife Felicity bought Cleeve Nursery in 1983 and sold it five years ago. He says the biggest change in the plantarea in that time is the increase in imports, driven by the ease of bringing plants into the UK.

"Why wouldn't the Government be interested in [UK hort business accreditation scheme] Plant Healthy?" he asks, with food production possibly threatened by imported pests and diseases and ash dieback's cost to be paid out of the public purse.

On peat, he says things are moving in the right direction but there's lots of work to do to find suitable alternatives and the Government should get more involved in supporting that quest for alternatives. The HTA is "working towards 2030" as an end date but there could be issues with Parliamentary time and there are alternatives that still need to be found.

He talks about the many nurseries he has visited and why they are good. He reflects on changes in plant trends and the plants that were stressed by last year's drought or died in the winter frost that will need replacing. Upbeat about 2023 trade with catering already looking strong, he says overstocks will need to sell through to get the supply chain moving. He says comparing with 2022 rather than 2019 is now the way forward.

Presenter: HortWeek editor Matthew Appleby
Producer: HortWeek's Julian Dodd

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