Scottish horticulture industry calls for garden centres to reopen in open letter

As Scottish garden centres remain closed under lockdown rules, key representatives from within the Scottish horticultural sector have published an open letter to the Scottish Government calling on them to reopen centres before the end of March.

Staff at a garden centre prepare to reopen to the public in May 2020 (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Staff at a garden centre prepare to reopen to the public in May 2020 (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A total of 19 businesses, representative bodies and associations have joined forces to issue a further plea to the Scottish Government to allow garden centres to reopen across Scotland as Spring fast approaches.

Outlining the benefits of garden centres to the public’s health and wellbeing, as well as the wider Scottish economy, the group have published the letter in advance of the First Minister’s updates and further details on the proposed roadmap out of lockdown next week.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The group stated in their open letter that:

"Horticulture has a vital role to play in keeping people at home; rebuilding a society which recognises the benefit of connecting with nature and growing the ‘green economy’ which underpins the Scottish Government’s environmental action plans.

"We write today, as the key peak Spring season approaches, to highlight the benefits we bring to a nation ready to start feeling hopeful and to ask for the sector to be enabled to play that essential role. It is imperative that garden centres and retail plant nurseries are allowed to reopen before the end of March.”

Benefits to health and wellbeing, encouraging people to stay at home and saving the industry from ‘economic turmoil’ are among those cited as justification for reopening Scottish garden centres before the end of March.

The letter also hits out at the impact of changed status of Scottish garden centres from ‘essential’ services to ‘non-essential’ in the latest lockdown rules, stating that growers were given the confidence to plant crops for Spring and centres, having been previously deemed essential from May to December, had bought these – but are now disposing of plants with no route to market.

The open letter marks the latest stage in the campaign led by struggling Scottish traders employed in the ornamental horticulture sector, which according to the letter contributes £2.2bn directly to Scottish GDP and supports over 50,000 jobs in Scotland. It follows a recent petition started for the same cause online, which now has over 7000 signatures.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.