Heather Wheeler MP met with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and representatives from two member businesses. Laura and John Jackson from Swarkestone Nursery & Garden Centre and Darren Sanders from Garden King hosted visits to discuss the horticultural industry’s key issues.
Growing media was high on the agenda as well as water security, import checks, planning issues and labour.
Laura Jackson, Director at Swarkestone Nursery & Garden Centre, said:
“We were delighted to welcome Heather Wheeler MP to our nursery & garden centre for a second time. We have worked hard on converting our plant production to peat-free and having run successful trials last year, all of our homegrown bedding, vegetable and herbaceous plants are now grown peat-free. It was nice to be able to share this progress. The anticipated ban on the commercial use of peat from 2026 will have an impact on what we import, so we need to allow time for our EU suppliers to move towards growing peat-free. There was great value in being able to discuss the intricacies of such a complex issue with Heather Wheeler MP.”
Darren Sanders, Garden Centre Manager at Garden King, commented:
“It was great to be able to host a visit from Heather Wheeler MP to discuss the key elements of our business as well as the challenges we face. As we are about to open our new extension, it was a perfect time to discuss the process of gaining planning permission and accessing materials. Water is key to the sector, and, having offered our own water-saving advice to consumers, it was hugely valuable to discuss water security with Heather and the HTA.”
Jennifer Pheasey, Director of Public Affairs at the HTA, added:
“The sector faces significant challenges and requires certainty, clarity and support to enable businesses to plan. When we couple the increased watering requirements for peat-free growing with the pressing need to invest long term water security, the scale of the challenges ahead is vast. It is crucial that horticultural businesses have sufficient time and can access the support they need to invest in peat-free growing and water resilience. We welcome the opportunity to meet with stakeholders such as Heather Wheeler MP who can express these concerns in Westminster.”
Commenting on her visit Heather Wheeler MP said:
“My visits to Swarkestone and Garden King were a great display of the horticulture sector in full swing. The social, environmental and economic benefits of environmental horticulture are substantial and today’s visits consolidated the need to support our gardening and horticulture sector and all those who work hard to deliver the plants and trees we need to meet climate targets.”