OWNERS of a Radnorshire garden centre say their situation could get critical if they are not allowed to open their doors again soon.

Midway Plants, based in Penybont, near Llandrindod Wells, say Welsh garden centres are already operating on an uneven playing field due to their English counterparts remaining open to customers during lockdown, while supermarkets are capitalising on the lull and moving to stock almost every item you can find in your local nursery or garden centre.

Midway owners Gill and Dave Holt are getting by via the click and collect service they’re still able to offer, but business is still a tenth of what it normally is at this time of year – and they’re entering the busiest time for the horticulture sector.

“We're still closed while supermarkets and hardware stores carry on selling gardening products, and all English garden centres are in full swing and customers can look around and buy whatever plants and products they like,” bemoaned Gill.

“The worry is not knowing, we still have no idea when we’re going to be able to open back up.

“If we aren’t allowed to open up next week on March 12 when the Welsh Government conduct their three-week review it does start to get critical.

“We’re not like a pub who might have to chuck barrels of beer away but then they just don’t order in anymore. We’re a seasonal business, growing plants months in advance, ahead of spring and ahead of the summer bedding plant season.

“It’s not a level playing field as English garden centres have been open for months and then you get stores like Tesco and Aldi who aren’t shy. Every single item we stock, they’re selling in the front rows at their stores and inviting an influx of people there, which doesn’t make much sense.

“It makes you think that the government don’t care about independent retailers.”

The husband and wife team, who have been in Penybont since 2012, have thanked customers for their support over the last year, both via continuing to order via click and collect, as well as signing a Senedd petition to re-open garden centres in Wales as soon as possible.

The petition has been signed by more than 11,000 people.

“Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition, but the Welsh Government will not even be raising the matter for discussion until March 12,” the couple said via their Facebook page.

“Most of our sales area is outside in the fresh air, we have hand sanitiser and screens, everyone must wear a mask and all distancing measures are in place. We have made shopping as safe as possible for everyone.

“We are preparing all our outdoor plant displays with the plants we have grown over the last year, for hopefully re-opening for browsing customers as soon as the Welsh Government allows – how long is a piece of string?

“We really appreciate your loyalty as Midway Plants customers and can only apologise that we seem to have turned full circle and are back to last year's problems. We will keep you posted with updates on our availability lists and hope to offer you plenty of plants to buy soon. Thanks for your patience.”