Cold spring affects Chelsea and garden centres

A cold, late spring has put summer colours in the garden on hold and also means that many plants for the Chelsea Flower Show are two to four week late This later growing season means that plants that would normally have gone over are still in full bloom, and will make an appearance at the show which opens today.

Apple trees, which normally bloom at the end of April in the South of England, are currently flowering  in the Homebase Garden, designed by Adam Frost.

In the M&G Centenary Garden, designed by Roger Platts, a rhododendron that would normally have finished flowering by this time of year, Rhododendron (Loderi Group) ‘Loderi Game Chick’, will be on show. The garden also features a magnificent wisteria and Viburnum plicatum, both of which are flowering later than normal this year.

Air temperatures (0.5 oC colder than average) have challenged nurseries to rethink their normal growing practices, and adapt their designs to ensure that the show is bursting with colour.

Britain’s garden centres are also pinning their hopes on a “Chelsea boost” to offset the impact of the spring freeze that kept the green-fingered indoors at a crucial buying time for the industry.

The coldest March since 1962 left garden centres empty across the country and forced growers to throw away hundreds of thousands of unsaleable bedding plants.Garden centres typically see trade peak during the six weeks between mid-March and May. This year the icy conditions delayed the start of the “high season” until mid-April and pushed up operating costs for garden centres.

Year-to-date sales at garden centres are down by 11 per cent, the HTA said, on top of a decline of 7 per cent in 2012. March sales were 25 per cent lower than last year.

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- who has written 866 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and is keen to "manage" the effects of the weather on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and I hope that it will continue to grow, allowing global gardeners to communicate about the effects of climate change on our plants and the future of our gardens.

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