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Plant growers bin 50m flowers due to cold weather

Spring flower sellers have had to throw away £50m worth of stock because of the prolonged winter weather that has hit Britain.

Freezing conditions have stopped people from tending to their gardens which would normally be filled with colourful plants bought from garden centres. Due to the lack of demand, independent growers and nurseries have been unable to sell on their stock to stores like B&Q and Homebase.

They are now having to make room for their summer flowers like geraniums, petunias and begonias and have no choice but to bin spring plants such as pansies, primroses and violas by the lorry load.

After weeks of bad weather that has kept gardeners inside, forecasters expect spring to finally arrive next week. Temperatures could hit 20C on Sunday and it is likely to remain warm for the following few days. But the improvement in the weather will come too late for Britain's flower retailers who will have to dump an estimated 30m individual plants because of the bad start to the year.

The British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) which represents 170 plant growers in the UK, say that on average each member has lost nearly £300,000 worth of plants.

It is a 'double whammy' for nurseries that have also had to pay more in energy bills to heat their huge greenhouses to keep the spring flowers alive for as long as possible.

Revelations that planters are facing a bleak spring come after the BBC's Monty Don became embroiled in row with the gardening industry after he recently told viewers of Gardener's World to delay planting until the weather improved. The presenter's statement upset garden centre retailers, who said the advice hampered their sales figures during the spring months.

Ian Riggs, chairman of the BPOA, said the cold weather has affected growers both big and small. He said: 'Because of the cold weather there have been very low sales of spring plants at garden centres across the country. The problem is growers would normally have cleared their glass houses of spring plants by now, leaving room for the summer plants. But because sales have been incredibly low all of the spring plants are still there. They are having to literally bin millions of perfectly good plants that are now in full colour and this dumping has been going on on a large scale across the country.

'We estimate losses to growers across the country could total around £50m. Last year was bad enough because of the wet summer, but this is a much bigger blow. Even if everything went well and our members sold 100% of their summer stock, this year can't be rescued because that income and profit just cannot be recovered. I fear some of the businesses may not be with us this time next year. There are some growers who will decide to call it a day.'

At one nursery in Chichester, West Sussex, owner Walter Back watched helplessly as lorry-load after lorry-load of beautiful primroses were dumped on to a large pile of perfectly healthy plants that will be turned to compost.

Mr Back, 70, who runs Blue Ribbon Plants with his wife Anja and son Robert, has thrown out nearly £100,000 worth of spring plants.

He said: 'It's been a terrible year and the worst I can remember since starting out in 1962. We've had 12 months of terrible weather. There won't be any businesses left the way it has been going. It is incredibly frustrating to have to throw away perfectly good, beautiful flowers.'

He called for garden centres to shoulder some of the cost of the losses in the future: 'At the moment if the garden centres decide they don't want to buy the plants - which they tell us beforehand that they want - they don't have to pay anything at all and we are left out of pocket. It would be much fairer if the cost was shared 50/50.'

Source : Rob Cooper – Mail Online
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2307388/Plant-growers-bin-50MILLION-flowers-Britains-big-spring-freeze-forecasters-say-spring-finally-arrive-week.html

11 April 2013
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