"The government needs to sit up and take notice of this sector. If it continues to be undervalued and overlooked and we carry on building houses without gardens it will have a devastating effect not only on our national economy but also on the environment and our living conditions as a whole."
Alan Titchmarsh delivered a hard hitting speech to government and the industry as a whole, following the publication of the Oxford Economics report on the size and value of the UK Horticulture sector, of which garden retailing is a key component.
"A vital part of our national economy employing more than half a million people and making a contribution to the national GDP in the region of twenty four billion pounds. But they also recognize it as a vital part of the lives both physical and spiritual of those who live on our islands. We are rightly famed for our famous gardens, they attract tourists from all over the world enriching our economy to the tune of two point nine billion pounds.
"This report is a tremendous wake up call. But if it's recommendations are not acted upon, especially in the light of Brexit, when this country's own horticultural assets are capable of playing an even more important role than they have done before. It will be a waste of all our time and the squandering of our national assets. Without a buoyant gardening and landscaping industry we find ourselves living in a concrete wasteland without gardens green landscapes and parks. We won't be able to help the government make the environment better through their 25 year plan. We won't be able to nurture our children's interest in growing and give them some sense of the understanding of the powers of nature and the opportunities in life it can provide.
"We need the support of government in order to provide a worthy legacy for our children and for future generations to realise what today we so often forget that as nation we are supported by our landscape physically and emotionally. To squander what it offers us and to undervalue and to fail to support those who work in horticulture whether in gardens or in food production is both shortsighted and dangerous. This report is not a series of options it is a series of essentials."
Listen to the complete speech by clicking on this link: link to audio file