Alan Titchmarsh was 'teary' after garden centre owner gave plants away

How Alan Titchmarsh felt ‘teary’ after garden centre owner gives away £500,000 worth of plants instead of binning them during lockdown

  • TV gardener Titchmarsh ‘had a tear’ when Hampshire homes were given plants
  • Kirton Farm Nurseries, of Winchester, is handing out free flowers to households
  • Its ‘Plants for People’ scheme has seen volunteers deliver to 15,000 homes 

Alan Titchmarsh was left ‘teary’ at a grower giving away £500,000 worth of plants that were likely to perish during the lockdown. 

Kirton Farm Nurseries, of Winchester, is handing out free flowers to households in Hampshire rather than bin their seasonal stock. 

Its ‘Plants for People’ scheme has seen hundreds of volunteers make surprise deliveries of potted plants to 15,000 homes with a garden, including Titchmarsh’s in the village of Alton. 

The TV gardener told a Saga podcast: ‘We had a wonderful thing happen the other day. A local nursery went down our village street and outside each house – they don’t know anybody – left six or ten pots of plants from the nursery and said, “We can’t do anything with them. We’re not allowed to sell them. Please enjoy them. If you want to make a contribution fine but no obligation”. 

Alan Titchmarsh (pictured at home in Alton, Hampshire) was left ‘teary’ at a grower giving away £500,000 worth of plants that were likely to perish during the lockdown

‘And do you know? I had a tear. I just thought it was the nicest thing that every house had plants at the end of its garden path.’ 

Titchmarsh, 70, is campaigning for garden centres to be allowed to re-open to save millions of plants and get Britain blooming again. 

Hundreds of nurseries and growers will go bust and seasonal plants worth £200million will otherwise be wasted by the end of June, he and the Horticultural Trades Association warn. 

Kirton Farm, founded in 1984 by Derek and Caroline Taylor, is handing out 90,000 plants after furloughing about a third of its 20 staff. 

In a note left with the flowers, they say: ‘Our plants need a new home and we hope they have found one with you. If you can’t find somewhere for these plants, please share with a friend or neighbour.’ 

Mr Taylor, 61, said that ‘astonishingly’ generous donors have more than halved losses and saved the nursery, whose clients include the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, RHS Wisley and the Eden Project. 

Kirton Farm Nurseries, of Winchester, is handing out free flowers to households in Hampshire rather than bin their seasonal stock (pictured, Derek Taylor from Kirton Farm Nurseries)

He explained: ‘It was a perfect storm for us. We have grown our plants for nine months and put our cost into it and then we came to our peak season when our overdraft is at its biggest and the tap was turned off. 

‘We had about a third of our entire year’s output ready to go out. It would have been soul destroying to put them on the compost heap. It was a leap of faith to dump our entire crop on people’s doorsteps, hoping we might get a nice reaction. 

‘We have had so many fabulous messages. I have had one or two older people phone in tears because they felt somebody cared about them. We have had so many donations that we have managed to save the nursery – for now – and keep people employed. 

‘We don’t know what is around the corner. We are just hoping that the garden centres will reopen in two or three weeks so that we can get some actual customers back.’

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