On Sunday night, everybody was expecting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to drop some pretty hot horticultural news in among all the other new guidelines for the UK easing out of life under lockdown. As it stood, it was actually a fairly perplexing speech where not a lot of light was shed on future measures. And that included no mention of the much-hyped matter of whether or not garden centres would be reopening this week. What a letdown for London’s budding Titchmarshes that was.
The good news is that follow-up guidelines from the government confirmed that garden centres can officially open their doors to the public again from today (Wednesday May 13), after nearly two months of being shut. The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has been working closely with the government to ensure the earliest possible reopening for garden centres as the loss of plants as a result of lockdown has been catastrophic, with plants from growers this spring – the best time for blooms – never making it to customers. With many UK garden centres being large open spaces and therefore making social distancing all the easier, the HTA has been successful in making a case for early reopening.
Here’s the bad news, though. Many have chosen not to in light of the difficulty of maintaining social-distancing measures. Alexandra Nurseries in Penge won’t be reopening its doors despite the shift in guidelines, releasing the following statement on its website:
‘We have decided to remain closed to the public for the time being. We understand this may be disappointing to our customers and friends. We have little confidence in HM Government’s guidance at present in relation to our business and safety and strongly feel that it is inadvisable and unsafe to re-open, both for our staff and customers. Our small size and layout would not allow distanced shopping or safe browsing.’
Other centres are not quite ready to take the leap, with The Secret Garden in Crystal Palace among those keen to improve their systems and to ensure the arrival of PPE equipment for its staff before venturing to reopen.
Among those to take the bold decision to welcome back customers, though, is Boma Garden Centre in Kentish Town. It has introduced a one-way system and is controlling numbers of customers to guarantee a safe environment. And, lucky north Londoners, Camden Garden Centre reopening today, too.
The Palace Gardener in Fulham also has plans to reopen later this week, operating reduced business hours and allowing one customer in at a time, with nearby Chelsea Gardener announcing its return by Friday and Rassells of Kensington opening next week.
Don’t fancy making the trip? Check out the best London garden centres doing deliveries during lockdown.
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