In This Issue
Plans to phase out the use of peat in the amateur horticulture sector
'Work with us to phase out peat use, protect the environment and safeguard the UK horticulture industry'
An Open Letter on the use of peat
Woodmansterne features in hit BBC2 show
Volume sales up by a whopping 28%!
12 page GIMA Awards Special in GTN November/December 2021 Issue available on-line
Huge growth for plant sales
Garden centre expands following nursery acquisition
Firmans Direct seek experienced Sales Agents
Dobbies Garden Centres rolls out EV charging
HTA statement on Seasonal Workers Scheme
Gardman is top of the pecking order
Value of partnership: LifestyleGarden and Eden Project
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Important takeover for family business Plantipp
Tong wins award for Christmas displays for fifth time
It’s the most jumperful time of year
Groves Nurseries spreads Christmas cheer
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An Open Letter on the use of peat

The undersigned feel there should be a much more open debate on the peat in horticulture issue with both for and against statements up for discussion.   It should be noted at the outset we all believe Sphagnum moss peat should not be used for soil improvement.

  • It is universally agreed peat should not be used for soil improvement, there are plenty of alternatives for this use, including garden compost, well-rotted manures and leaf-mould.
  • Sphagnum Moss Peat from Raised Bogs has been and remains the best constituent for seed, cuttings and potting composts.  Peat to case spawned mushroom growing media currently has no alternative.
  • Moss peat use in seed and potting composts is currently, by all available measures, an environmentally friendly growing media and in most uses, results in the absorption of CO2, plus the sequestration of carbon in woody growth and the soil.
  • Cut-away raised peat bogs can be restored, where water levels are raised and harvested areas re-seeded with the correct species of sphagnum. Newly planted sphagnum grows rapidly, laying down 5 to 7 cms per year, which make peat a sustainable and renewable resource.  (e.g. Beadamoss)
  •  Restoring cut-away bogs and the rapid growth of seeded sphagnum absorbs carbon dioxide in great quantity.
  • Most current peat-free composts need much higher rates of base fertilizer (up to four times more) to replace plant foods absorbed by breaking down fibres.  They also need more regular watering (at least double), which in turn leads to nitrates being lost in drainage water.  Peat has excellent water retention qualities and holds onto base fertilizers to feed plants.
  • The growth of some plants is not as good in many of the peat-free composts currently available and this includes all the ericaceous subjects, namely azaleas, camelia, heathers and rhododendrons.
  • Air dried peat can be compressed and is light in weight, so uses thinner polythene in wrappers and less fossil fuel to transport.
  • Sphagnum moss peat is sterile, clean to handle, pest and pollutant free.  Unlike some of the peat free alternatives, where there is a risk of introducing weedkillers and plant diseases.
  • Peat free composts are made up to widely differing recipes, so it is very difficult for home gardeners to adapt their watering and feeding practices when the compost mixes are no longer standard.  Where they experience poor growth and failures, we risk losing the attraction for people to stay at home gardening and growing some of their own food.



Sir Brian H  Donohoe Ret'd MP Secretary of the Gardening and Horticultural Group 1992—2015

Peter Seabrook, International TV Gardening Presenter/Gardening Editor, The Sun.

Robert Hillier, Director Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres.

Jim McColl, Presenter BBC TV The Beechgrove Gardening Progammes.

Adrian Bloom, Chair Blooms Nurseries Ltd.

Jason Bloom, Managing Director Blooms Nurseries.

Bunny Guinness, Garden Designer and Broadcaster.

Andrew Tokely, Horticultural Director, E. W. King & Co Ltd.

Garry Coward Williams, Editor, Amateur Gardening Magazine.

Robert Wharton, Director Wharton’s Roses (fears unfair European Competition).

Paul Wharton, Director Wharton’s Roses.

Alan Sargent, Founder Association of Professional Landscapers.

Paul Cooling, Chair Coolings Garden Centres. (Currently not enough Peat Free alternatives).

Neil and Nicci Gow, Experienced and long-term Garden Retailers.

Steve McCurdy, Managing Director, Majestic Trees Ltd.

Kenneth Cox, Director Glendoick Nursery and Garden Centre, Ericaceous Plat Exporter.

Christine Walkden, Gardening Broadcaster and Lecturer.

Steve and Val Bradley, Authors, Social Media, National gardening Columnists.

Graham Richardson, Group Managing Director Johnsons of Wixley and six fellow directors:-

John, Andrew, Iain, Robert, Eleanor and Jonathon Whitemore.

Douglas Wilson, Director/Partner, Trioscape Garden Centre and Nursery.

Jo Davey, Horticultural Marketing Research and Development Manager.

Michael Smith, Director Grange, Nurseries and MeadowCroft Garden Centre.

Simon Crawford, Director, Burpee Europe.

Tim Kerley, Director, Kerley & Co, Plant Breeders.

Derek Jarman, Director Hayloft Nurseries Ltd.


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Nigel Goodman
When will you wake up ~2022 and you are still promoting destruction?
PEAT acts as a carbon store, it is a great habitat for wildlife, it has a BIG role in water management, ... as a carbon store – peat holds more carbon than the combined forests of Britain, France and Germany. For wildlife – many scarce species inhabit peat-lands.
D Leigh
I'll try my best not to buy any plants from these dinosaurs. Hopefully won't be long before peat compost is held in the same regard as leaded petrol.
Doug Stewart
Interesting article, can the peat industry ever be sustainable?
Doug Stewart
So, peat is the best thing for us to use, so we ought to be allowed to do so to our heart's content? The regeneration figures are misleading at best, the type of peat you want to use which is after it has been laid down and compressed over decades and centuries, accumulates at around 1mm per year at best and the part you really want comes from a time before any of us was born. It is equivalent to surface strip mining for coal and just as environmentally damaging. The CO2 absorption mentioned comes from the plants grown in the peat and would happen if they were grown in something else.
Doug Stewart
I agree. I haven’t bought compost containing peat in years and I am sorry to say that the last point in the letter is just patronising to gardeners. We all need to educate ourselves and adapt. It’s not always easy but we must.
Doug Stewart
It says a lot about GTN that it is prepared to print such anti-scientific nonsense without comment. While the convenience of using peat cannot be denied, neither can the substantial loss of carbon to the atmosphere nor the substantial destruction of biodiversity. However, the idea that it is a renewable resource in any meaningful sense is completely laughable. At least, it would be if the results weren’t so tragic. The peat that can be stripped in a decade from a peat bog can only be restored in millenia. Far from laying down 5-7 cm a year, as is disingenuously implied, peat on average builds up at about 1mm per year, up to around 10m since the last ice age where conditions have been suitable. Restoration in a warmed climate may be even more difficult.

Short-term commercial interests of the few and the convenience of complicit gardeners should not blind us to the scientific truth.
Doug Stewart
Absolute lunacy I’m afraid and wholly misleading, teetering on fraudulent. Although Sphagnum, dependent upon the species, may grow quickly on recovering bogs to form dead and dying Sphagnum after a few years (white peat), dark peat that is actually used in compost takes millennia to form, building up at a pace of about 1mm per year on the healthiest of bogs. We have already lost over 99% of our pristine raised bogs in Britain and the notion that peat should continue to be extracted for compost to me is unthinkable. Peat extraction is about as sustainable as the fossil fuel industry.
Doug Stewart
Absolutely. Shocking that that argument is being used. Selling peat products with it is illegal as it would contravene the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations by misleading customers.
Doug Stewart
Would it be possible to farm and sustainably process spag into something the horticultural industry can use ie speeding up those thousands of years?
Annette Parkes
Hi, Annette Parkes here, in the middle of a debate with Moulton College RHS students on the topic of sustainability and compost types. It is great to see the Peat debate hotting up and glad to see the post in response to the article above.