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‘Everyone is growing stuff’: Garden centre bosses see bumper crop of DIY gardeners

PUBLISHED: 16:08 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:19 01 April 2020

Ben Youngs at North Walsham Garden Centre. Pic: Archant

Ben Youngs at North Walsham Garden Centre. Pic: Archant

Owners of nurseries in Norfolk are reaping the benefit of people wanting to get out in the garden while in self-isolation.

Jamie Spooner, operations manager, at work at the Urban Jungle garden centre, at Old Costessey. Picture: ArchantJamie Spooner, operations manager, at work at the Urban Jungle garden centre, at Old Costessey. Picture: Archant

Although some nurseries and growers – many family businesses – face hardship because of the coronavirus close-down, others are determined not to be beaten.

It’s estimated plants worth £200 million grown for sale will have to be destroyed nationwide as many garden centres have closed at their peak time of year – resulting in the Horticultural Trades Association calling for government support of the sector.

But in Norfolk, with more people at home and the recent sunny weather, it seems a new army of home-grown gardeners has been cultivated.

Mousehold Garden Centre. Pic: Mousehold Garden CentreMousehold Garden Centre. Pic: Mousehold Garden Centre

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Timothy Gee – who has been running Mousehold Garden Centre, in Norwich, for 40 years now aided by son Matthew – was given the government go-ahead to stay open because he also sells ‘essential’ items.

He’s coping with few staff and has completely sold out of seeds and compost – but has a new delivery of 24 pallets tomorrow and a further 12 on Monday. He said he had delivered compost to an entire street, Ash Grove, in the city with householders each taking one bag.

Nursery assistant, Mark Curtis, sorting a tree delivery at the Urban Jungle garden centre, at Old Costessey. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursery assistant, Mark Curtis, sorting a tree delivery at the Urban Jungle garden centre, at Old Costessey. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

And while he has not got a full range of stock because his suppliers are cutting their orders by half because so many garden centres are closed, he has got plenty of bedding and tomato plants which are proving popular.

“Everyone is growing stuff,” he said.

At North Walsham Garden Centre, in Norwich Road, owner Ben Youngs said they were not open to the public but they were delivering - now five days a week instead of usually just one.

“It’s difficult because half the suppliers have stopped running but we’ve been careful with our ordering and we have shrubs and roses which will last. People gardening has taken off to a new level.”

Mousehold Garden Centre. Pic: Mousehold Garden CentreMousehold Garden Centre. Pic: Mousehold Garden Centre

At Urban Jungle, in Ringland Lane, Old Costessey, Norwich, they created mystery boxes of house plants delivered to your home for half price – and quickly sold out.

At Salhouse Garden Centre, in Honeycombe Road, which is not open, manager Dan Bark said he was going in to water the plants daily but they had been forced to throw away spring bulbs and polyanthas. However, because they grow their own, they were not wasting too much.

“Our peak season is coming up when it should be the busiest time of the year but I think people will venture out and buy plants after coronavirus.”

For more updates on coronavirus in Norfolk see the Facebook page here

Salhouse Garden Centre. Pic: Sahouse Garden Centre.Salhouse Garden Centre. Pic: Sahouse Garden Centre.


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