As a lockdown limbo lingers, there is talk, as our mild weather continues, of reopening public places in time for the May Bank Holiday next Friday during National Gardening Week. It begs the question: can garden centres now be considered essential?
According to a report by The Sun earlier this week, an estimated £200 million worth of plants in the UK’s 2,000 garden centres could go to landfill if the lockdown is not lifted. This would be sheer sacrilege, and could be sensibly avoided.
Gardening certainly has huge mental health benefits – a real area of concern for many who are suffering in lockdown right now. Additionally, spending more time in their gardens, having been to the garden centre, could help convey the government’s ‘Stay At Home’ mantra which will be so crucial in the next coming weeks. According to the aforementioned report in The Sun this week, horticulture is worth almost £25 billion in the U.K. economy. Earlier this week the paper, with its Gardening Correspondent Peter Seabrook, appealed to Boris Johnson with passionate plea for their reopening.
The cathartic nature of gardening was poignantly put to the Prime Minister by Peter: ‘No one knows better than me what a blessed relief it is to be out in the garden. On Good Friday, I lost my wonderful wife Margaret to coronavirus, after 60 years of marriage. I quickly did what I always do when life gets tough, and made myself useful in the garden’. By comparison, at a time when Wetherspoons owner Tim Martin wants to reopen his pubs in June, surely there is a strong case for reopening garden centres sooner rather than later?
The Times reported at the beginning of April that millions of bedding plants will be destroyed because garden centres have had to close at their busiest time of year. Total sales losses could be almost £700 million by the end of June. During these testing times, garden create a sense of escapism, and are a rich, yet simple and innocent pleasure in an otherwise bewildering world. Now, more than ever, we should embrace them. As Audrey Hepburn once said, ‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow’.