GARDEN centres across the North-East are calling for greater support following uncertainty around coronavirus, with one currently holding £80,000 worth of stock, much of which it expects to lose.

Calls come as The Horticultural Trades Association pressures the government for more support.

Poplar Tree Garden Centre & Coffee Shop, Durham, has closed due to social distancing guidelines but has launched a delivery service in a bid to "do all we can to try and get out stock out".

The Northern Echo:

General manager Caroline Walker said: "We’re not like a garage or something, if they close their stock will be there when they reopen. Ours won’t. It dies if it’s not planted.

"Garden centres are just asking for more support and the government to acknowledge that our stock is perishable.

"We’ve been here since 1972 and have never encountered anything like this."

Ms Walker said, as with most garden centres and nurseries, the next three months of trading, April, May and June, would be the most profitable of the year, making up three-quarters of profit.

"The current value of stock holding of plants during this period is £80,000, with half of that being out of season or lost stock caused by COVID -19," she added.

Fiona Dean, from Ravensworth Nurseries, Richmond, believes this "potential total stock write off" is "unlike any other industry".

Ravensworth Nurseries has also started an online delivery service, but does not know what it will do with the 1.4 million plants set to grow over the next three months.

"Plants that would normally be selling during the months ahead have been in production since January," Ms Dean said."Some varieties have been sown since late December, before COVID-19 was even heard about.

"We’re torn between death and the deep sea.

The Northern Echo:

"We don’t know what to do. We thought about putting plants outside the front for people to have, but that’s encouraging them to travel.

"People keep talking about the impact on businesses, but this is personal. We have been here 52 years, we’re a family business. Nobody could have anticipated this, it is an awful and terrible disease."

If not purchased, millions of plants will die and be thrown away as garden centres across the region close.