Last week as questions were asked in parliament about the re-opening of garden centres The Sun newspaper published an article by Peter Seabrook alongside it's comment column on pages 12 and 13. In the article Peter writes of his love of gardening and his personal loss following the death of his wife Margaret.
"No one knows better than me what blessed relief it is to be out in the garden.
On Good Friday I lost my wonderful wife Margaret to coronavirus after sixty years of marriage.
I quickly did what I always do when life gets tough and made myself useful in the garden.
Hearing the birds sing, enjoying the spring flowers, getting physically tired - and shedding a tear - helped me enormously.
I watered and tended some bulbs. It felt good to be nurturing something growing. Life has to go on.
Gardens are something we share and nurture together as families. My beloved wife Margaret loved the red campions that grow wild in our Essex garden.
Today (weds), as she is buried, the wild campions will be on her coffin.
My gardening has provided me much needed solace for me at a dark time. I know in these weeks of great sorrow that I am far from alone.
That’s why I am imploring our Prime Minister Boris Johnson to please, please, please make a special case and allow garden centres, retail nurseries and gardens to open this weekend.
I ask in the interests the physical and mental well-being of all of us, as we continue to endure lock down.
For Britain is a nation of avid gardeners and the next few weeks are crucial if our plans are not to go to waste.
This is National Gardening Week - kicked off by Kelly Brook posing with a union-jack style watering can in Monday's Sun - when are normally out buying seeds, compost, shrubs and trees.
The months April through to June are the equivalent of Christmas for the horticulture industry.
And the first May Bank holiday is critical, there are so many things to be done this weekend to set gardens up for the next nine months. Normally it would be boom time at garden centres.
Many people are short of money to buy food after losing their jobs or being furloughed so growing their own is good for their wallets and their health.
Tons of fresh food can come from back gardens and allotments, as long as basic garden supplies can be obtained.
Even flat dwellers, with no more than pots on balconies and window boxes, could grow aubergines, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Where, though, are they going to get grafted plants for these fruits when garden centres are closed?
Those lucky enough to have an area of soil - or raised beds that can be knocked up from a recycled pallet - can become self-sufficient in salads. But they need plants to get a flying start.
Mail order garden retailers are currently unable to meet demand and why add to the number of vans on roads making home deliveries, when plants could be bought locally?
The mental and physical well being of people kept at home is without question improved by getting them out into the fresh air growing plants.
But gardens, of course, need plants.
And under lockdown rules garden centres and nurseries are closed - and millions of plants are currently standing in commercial glasshouses destined for landfill unless the log jam in distribution is not quickly eased.
The estimated value of the plants is estimated to be £200m and laid out they would cover an area the size of Liverpool. Overall horticulture is worth most £25billion to the UK economy.
There can be no doubting that isolating at home has helped reduce the spread of corona virus.
But plants are being sold at supermarkets so why can’t they be sold at garden centres?
It just doesn't seem logical when supermarkets are an enclosed environment and garden centres and nurseries are often open air.
Now folk understand the need for social distancing at supermarkets so I'm sure they will abide by it at plant retailers.
I believe that UK’s 2,000 garden centres should be allowed to open their doors for the rest of the crucial spring season.
The industry is confident they can do this without putting customers and staff at risk.
Bosses says their centres’ cafes would remain closed and car parks would have an empty space left between each vehicle.
There would be controlled entry into the centres with a one-way walking system and tape marks on the floor to ensure there was one customer for every 1,000 sq ft of floor space.
The only exchange would be inserting a credit card into the cash registering machine on departure.
Staff would serve customers behind perspex screens and shopping trolleys disinfected regularly.
That all seems sensible and precautionary to me. The quicker the plant retailers are open, the more time gardeners will have to space out their shopping trips.
Gardeners are responsible and thinking people. They would make it work.
Unlike other industries, garden centres can’t hold their stock back for when lockdown ends. Plants keep growing and will have to be dumped when they outgrow their pots.
So please fling the gates to the garden centres open, Boris, and save the horticultural industry."
As I till the soil and grieve for Margaret, I know exactly how therapeutic gardening can be."
The article can also be read on The Sun website at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11503917/gardenings-wife-coronavirus-garden-centres-re-opened-peter-seabrook/