NHS centres across the Fylde were treated to trolleys full of spring bedding plants donated by Barton Grange garden centre in Preston.

“The NHS team are at the frontline fighting this thing. They seemed the obvious beneficiaries so it didn’t take much thinking about,” says Guy Topping, CEO of Barton Grange. The centres that received donations include Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Clifton Hospital in Lytham, Royal Preston, Chorley, Lancaster Infirmary and Garstang Medical Centre.

As Lancashire enjoys its warmest April, Barton Grange would usually be doing its busiest trade, but the lockdown has meant a write-off for spring stock.

“I was more upset for our team who had spent eight weeks turning the centre around after Christmas and getting it looking so stunningly beautiful for spring . . . and then we closed!”

A month into lockdown, there is speculation about what kind of businesses can start to re-open, and how they will implement safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With concerns over a second wave of the virus, it is set to be a long gradual process which will be a learning curve. Guy says;

“We are imagining there will be social distancing measures in place for a long time and this is going to make returning to normal business extremely difficult. Outside of the gardening and Christmas seasons, it is our cafes which drive people through the front door so we are hoping we will be able to open them, at least partially, alongside the main garden centre.”

With no online infrastructure, staff at Barton Grange hope to be ready to meet consumer demand once lockdown ends.

“We have teams in at both our nurseries and at the garden centre tending the plants, but growing to an unknown deadline is fraught with difficulty. We are hoping for some kind of sales in late May/early June

by Lucinda Herbert

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