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Seedlings in hot demand

Steve and Louisa Portman opened the Clareville Nursery yesterday. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Garden centres could open from yesterday for contactless trade, but customers are not allowed to wander around the nursery browsing.

Despite this, the owners of Clareville Nursery are “excited” to be back in business.

Louisa Portman and her husband Steve have been busy taking care of plants and were pleased to be able to earn some money again.

They were very upset the day they got the news their business would have to shut its doors because of covid-19.

“Getting out of bed to open the nursery for 9am will be really, really good,” Portman said on Monday.

Portman knows the rules supplied by the Ministry of Primary Industries.

It has advised that nurseries can carry out maintenance on capital stock and plants to keep them alive.

This authorisation includes tasks critical for plant survival, such as watering, pest control, disease control, temperature and humidity control, and using the minimum staff for the job.

There are limits on what Portman is allowed to do with the business and for customers at Alert Level 3.

Like many of the retailers opening, trade is being organised over the internet and sales have to be contactless and mainly by delivery.

Products would be pre-ordered and paid for in advance, and customers can come to the carpark to collect their purchases, but not into the garden centre.

The Portmans have made use of the past month by getting a new website for their business developed.

And their customers are telling them they are desperate to get the winter vegetables planted and autumn planting done and say demand for vegetable seedlings is very high.

“One regular customer likened herself to a locked-up Labrador, desperate to get off her property and to the centre,” Portman said.

She said her customers were very keen to have something to do, and replanting a garden was at the top of their list.

Gardening New Zealand, which represents gardening centres, is encouraging people to get supplies for their home gardens as a helper in times of mental stress.

“In times of hardship and stress, it is important people have something positive to do at home,” spokeswoman Debbie Pascoe said.

“This is also the key time for bulbs, restoring drought-ravaged gardens, and adding some colour to lift the spirits.”

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