After experiencing a pandemic driven boom in gardening from April, many growers have already sold what would have been their spring stock to keep up with demand. A shortage of stock this spring is something that has been popping up on the ‘growers grapevine’.
The public appetite for gardening and plantlife this winter was unprecedented. Australia Post data reveals online sales in the "home and garden" category peaked in mid-April and have held steady ever since, growing above 95 per cent year-on-year. Google searches for “how to grow vegetables” hit an all-time worldwide high in April. And of course, garden centre shelves were stripped of seedlings, seeds and other gardening materials, by shoppers eager to experience the many benefits of gardening.
Despite the increased restrictions introduced within Victoria, public interest in gardening is still strong. Bulleen Art and Garden manager Alastair Cooper said orders were coming in thick and fast via the website and over the phone. “It’s all absolutely pumping. We have never been so busy for deliveries. We are delivering plants if we can across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.” And it’s that sustained unprecedented appetite for greenlife that brings us back to the whisper that this spring will look a little different for the industry.
We spoke to John Warner, Head of Production at Warners Nurseries, to understand how an unseasonably busy winter might affect access to stock, “the majority of the garden centres we work with have put forward orders in much earlier than usual. My fear is that there are some retailers that aren’t doing that and perhaps aren’t aware of a possible shortage in spring.”
It’s also possible that the supply will be in much higher demand as landscaping businesses are allowed to begin trading again as restrictions start to ease. And with interstate growers in the same boat, Victoria’s retailers may not be able to turn to them to address shortages of stock.
“I expect that some of the lines that retailers are used to stocking in spring simply won’t be available. They require more time.”
The sentiment was echoed by James Edge, National Sales Manager at Humpris Nursery, “we anticipate there’s going to be a big demand for plants as restrictions ease and we’d encourage retailers to consider making their orders in advance. Winter is typically a tapering time for plant demand but that hasn’t been the case this year. It might mean that retailers have to think outside the box with the lines they stock this spring.”
Let’s also be mindful that a high public demand for plantlife is ultimately a positive thing and will result in a new army of Victorian gardeners, that will breathe new life, and sales, into the industry. Supporting them to succeed is an opportunity too good to miss out on.
Here’s hoping for an extremely busy spring for our industry, if a little different.