The owner of a popular Tayside garden centre says he and his staff have been left in limbo by the Scottish Government’s refusal to allow his businesses to reopen.
Ken Cox, owner of Glendoick Garden Centre in the Carse of Gowrie, said it is “incredibly frustrating” Scottish garden centres have not been given the go-ahead to open their doors despite their English counterparts being allowed to do so.
Speaking to the Tele, he said: “A couple of weeks ago it started to look like we were going to be allowed to open up, so we unfurloughed some of our staff because you can’t open up a garden centre overnight – once the plants are in the shop, you need to look after them.
“We are in the dark and it is incredibly difficult for our staff who want to know if they are working or not.
“Glendoick is set up for social distancing – garden centres are big and spacious and a lot of it is outside, and we have separate queues and all that so we are ready to go once we are allowed to reopen.”
Although Glendoick’s café, gift and clothing staff remain furloughed, Mr Cox wants to see a clear timetable for easing lockdown made public.
He added: “The big issue is April and May are the most important months for garden centres, and we have already missed three quarters of that.
“It is incredibly frustrating DIY stores are considered essential but we are not, even though there is a huge overlap in what we sell.”
However, Ross Turriff, who runs Turriff’s Garden Centre in Broughty Ferry, said he wants to remain closed until it is completely safe to re-open.
During lockdown, Turriff’s café and florist business have been completely shut, but the farm shop has continued trading.
Mr Turriff said: “This is a family business and it is all family members working here, so it would be good to wait until everything is safe.
“I know English garden centres are reopening, but a two or three-week lag won’t make a massive difference to us up here.”
James Barnes, chairman of the Horticultural Trades Association, recently called for “urgent talks” with the Scottish Government to discuss how to re-open Scottish garden centres.
He said: “While we understand the Scottish Government’s medical rationale for not amending the current restrictions, we are disappointed to see a twin approach, which will confuse the public and will put the Scottish horticulture industry at a disadvantage to the rest of the UK.
“The Horticultural Trade Association has established a safe trading guidance document for garden centres to follow to ensure a safe and managed reopening procedure.
“The illogicality of some retail outlets being able to sell plants while garden centres have to stay closed in Scotland is hugely frustrating for Scottish gardeners and our members alike.”