Coronavirus: Beechgrove host Baxter welcomes garden centre reopening

By Ken Banks and Graeme Ogston
BBC Scotland

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image copyrightTERN TV
image captionCarole Baxter has become a household name

One of the best-known faces of BBC Scotland's Beechgrove Garden series has said garden centres reopening in the first phase of lockdown easing will be "extremely important".

The popular TV show began in 1978, with Carole Baxter becoming a household name.

She said she would have liked garden centres to have re-opened even sooner.

The presenter said she hoped people turning to gardening during lockdown would see a new generation of fans.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday that the first phase of easing would include garden centres reopening.

Lockdown restrictions in Scotland are expected to be relaxed slightly from Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement as she unveiled a four-phase "route map" aimed at restarting society while suppressing the virus.

'Brilliant therapy'

Beechgrove's Carole said: "I think it's extremely important - it's really good news that they will re-open.

"I do think it's a shame they were not able to open earlier, as DIY stores were - people have turned to doing things in their garden.

"Gardening has been proven (to be) brilliant therapy, for mental health and to get out there. People cannot go out and about the same."

image captionGarden centres are set to reopen in the first phase of easing

She said people had turned to "growing their own", and had become more innovative.

"You do not need to have a massive garden - some people are living in a flat, but you can still grow stuff on your window sill.

"There has been recycling, because it was not so easy at the start to get things. If you did not have pots, you were recycling yoghurt pots or egg cartons.

"With Beechgrove Garden we have been doing Zoom Q&As. And younger people are embracing it.

"Gardening has a very positive effect."

image copyrightHope Turriff
image captionRoss Turriff said they hoped to catch some of the "peak" trade

Ross Turriff, who runs Turriff's Garden Centre in Broughty Ferry, said members of the public were "very keen" to see garden centres open again.

"The perception seems to have changed in the public's eye and they're really keen to get into their gardens and do stuff," he said.

"I think it's a sensible thing. Garden centres tend to have an open space people can wander around.

"The supermarkets are selling the stuff we would be selling, so I think now it seems a bit illogical that garden centres couldn't open and supermarkets could have racks and racks of the same sort of stuff.

"April, May, June and then Christmas are the big peaks. So we're going to manage to catch some of it at least."

'A little trickier'

He explained: "We have a large outdoor space where folk can easily socially distance. Once you get into the till area and the gift areas, it gets a little trickier.

"So, we're going to have to put things in place to filter the customers through some of the tighter areas and making sure our staff have some form of PPE too."

They have been doing online sales - click and collect, and some deliveries.

Mr Turriff said: "Hopefully a lot of the garden centres with staff furloughed and who have adopted online sales, will hopefully, if not thrive, then at least survive."

image captionMains of Drum is on the outskirts of Aberdeen

Craig Forbes, of Mains of Drum Garden Centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen, said the past two months have been tough.

"The impact has been huge," he said.

"We had to try and find a way of trying to get some business back to support the community and the suppliers that we buy from.

"We started a web shop and telephone service which has been hard work but I think the team have enjoyed the challenge."

However he said that would not have been sustainable long-term, as they rely a lot on trade in the restaurant.

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