Garden centres are being urged to set up home delivery services after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close their doors.
Rural affairs and natural environment minister Mairi Gougeon has written to bosses of such businesses, urging them to consider a mail order service for selling plants and seeds.
While some garden centres are doing this, she said many others had shut up shop completely as a result of Covid-19.
Explaining why she had contacted garden centres, Ms Gougeon said: “It is important for people’s mental health to have the ability to be out in their gardens and do work and support their local plant nurseries.
“A lot have closed, and as a government we’ve been encouraging non-essential businesses to close, but I wanted to write to garden centres to make it clear that even though we have these restrictions in place within our emergency regulations, it is still possible for them to sell on line, and to encourage them to do that where possible.
“It is also recognising that for a number of garden centres and plant nurseries this would probably be their busiest time of year normally and we want to try to encourage them to think about other ways of doing their business, while adhering to all the social distancing guidelines.”
She added: “I do think with so many people looking to work in their own gardens and their own green space, and with all the amazing weather we are having as well, we really want to try to encourage those businesses and make them fully aware of what the regulations say, what they are permitted to do, so they can make use of that as much as possible.”
In her letter the minister said by allowing customers to shop from home garden centres could “promote physical and mental health and keep us active whilst also providing some much needed revenue for a pressured sector of our economy”.
She stated: “As we enter the fourth week of lockdown, many families are turning to gardening – rightly – as a means of keeping active and close to home, encouraging healthy outdoor activity with children, and even as a way of helping to grow their own food.”
Kieran Gallagher, a director at Cardwell Garden Centre near Gourock, said: “We think it’s a good move on the part of the Government to encourage garden centres like ours to start delivering plants, flowers and other gardening products.
“Gardening really is a worthwhile activity during lockdown, as it gives people the chance to get out in the fresh air, stay active and beat any boredom from being stuck in the house.
“We plan to open for deliveries within the next few days, which is an ideal time for gardeners, as that’s when you would normally plant the summer blooms.
“We have been planning for when we can reopen and the three company directors have been looking after the thousands of seedlings and plug plants inside our 12-acre nursery.
“We’ve made sure all the summer bedding plants are in tip-top condition for sale with daily watering.
“We have a good stock of all the best products and tools to meet everyone’s gardening needs. You can be sure that when the time comes we’ll be ready to go.”