Garden centres in Scotland set to reopen as lockdown easing due to begin

Garden centres across Scotland are getting set to reopen their doors in anticipation of a relaxation of lockdown rules beginning on Friday.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to officially confirm Scotland’s move to the first stage of the transition out of lockdown in a statement today.

She said last week that garden centres would be among the businesses that could open up to the public in phase one with special precautions in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

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The reopening can not come soon enough for many green-fingered Scots, with a major surge of interest in gardening being reported across the whole of the UK.

Garden centres in Scotland will be allowed to open from Friday with social distancing measures in place

Glendoick garden centre is currently preparing to welcome customers back to its site at Glencarse in Perthshire tomorrow after being closed for the past nine weeks, traditionally some of the busiest for gardeners.

A new one-way system and distancing measures will be in place, while the number of customers allowed inside the premises and to use the car park will be restricted to minimise risks to staff and shoppers.

The onsite cafe will remain closed.

Ken Cox, managing director of the award-winning family firm, said: “It’s not too late to get gardening. June is the month to get all the bedding planted and the garden looking good, so we hope it will be a busy one.”

Dobbies in Lasswade, Edinburgh, is one of 12 Scottish stores set to open when the first stage of lockdown easing is officially launched

Garden centre chain Dobbies has said all 12 stores in Scotland will reopen as soon as they get the green light.

Outlets across the rest of the UK are already back in business.

Graeme Jenkins, chief executive for Dobbies, said: “We have successfully opened 56 stores across our estate in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, with social distancing measures in place.

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“We are confident we can reopen our Scottish stores safely and responsibly.”

Hand sanitising stations, staff wearing masks and one-way routes for shoppers are some of the measures that will be in place to keep staff and customers safe and reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus

He said the company had seen an increased demand for online deliveries and people looking for advice while Scottish stores were closed.

He says “grow-your-own” has become an especially popular theme, with more people spending time in their gardens - particularly with children.

He added: “There’s no doubt that whether you’re a keen gardener or novice, gardening has a positive impact on your mental and physical well-being, and people are certainly keen to spend time in their gardens this spring.”

Joanna Fitzpatrick and her partner Alastair Bates, who run Duncraig Nursery in Wester Ross, will not be ready to open until next week when orders of hand sanitiser, masks and other special supplies have arrived.

But the pair have managed to keep trading throughout lockdown, switching to online and telephone ordering and operating a home delivery service for customers scattered all over the local area.

She says the nursery has been busy during lockdown, with compost a particularly good seller, but supplies have sometimes been difficult to come by.

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She said: “The weather has been very good, so it would have been a fantastic season in normal times.

“Because people have actually had time to get out in their gardens there has been a greater demand for gardening supplies.

“Folk have been so grateful to us as well - it has been quite humbling.

“We’ve done our best to try and help people as much as possible, offering free delivery within a 10-mile radius.”

She’s still uncertain what sort of footfall the business will see when it reopens.

“A lot of people have told us they are very excited we’re going to be open again and they’ll be coming out, but there are still many who are very very cautious and don’t want to leave their homes.

“So it’s very tricky to judge what the demand is going to be.

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“It’s about confidence really. I think it’s going to be quite scary for some, coming out into the new normal.”

They are currently creating more space for shoppers at the three-acre site, which was originally the walled kitchen garden for nearby Duncraig Castle.

They’re also installing a hand sanitising station as well as signage and directional arrows to help people stay apart.

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