Queues as garden centres reopen to plant lovers across Shropshire
Queues could be seen stretching out of the doors to garden centres across Shropshire as they opened to the public for the first time in nearly two months.
Dozens of green-fingered residents matched protective masks with gardening gloves yesterday and made their way to plant centres and nurseries to make the most of the free time lockdown has given many.
Lakeside Plant Centre in Telford was operating with a one-way system and a strict capacity limit, but welcomed back customers who were eager to take advantage of the recent balmy weather.
Aside from having a stressful move from west Lancashire to Telford in the height of lockdown, Teri and Brian Jarman have spent their time under the government's furlough scheme adjusting to their new home and garden.
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The couple, who met, got engaged and then married on consecutive St George's Days, now live in St George's in Telford.
Teri, 64, said: "We've been waiting for this time to come for so long now. We felt it was so unfair that small businesses like this that need all the support they can get weren't allowed to open with social distancing.
"We're outside, in the fresh air and it's easier to keep people apart here than in supermarkets for example."
Brian, who managed to secure a job for a car manufacturer in Shrewsbury despite the coronavirus outbreak, said: "Places like B&Q kept their garden centres open and when people all rushed to get supplies they went there – these places didn't stand a chance as they weren't allowed to have customers through the door."
Teri added: "That's why we've come here today, to give them our support and keep local businesses in the loop."
Annette & Keven Beddall from Donnington Wood said they valued being able to shop in person.
They said: "We've come to collect a few things but also to just have a browse, which you haven't been able to do anywhere for a while.
"We've been out in the garden a lot more, as I think most people have.
"The government's advising we use common sense with things reopening and let's hope we can all use that.
"I think it was right to reopen these places – the economy has got to get back onto its feet as soon as possible."
Susie Phillips and her husband Geoff travelled from Shifnal to collect items for her mother.
Susie said: "We've done a few orders from Lakeside using their online service but it's nice to actually come and view the items in person."
Geoff added: "A lot of stuff you can pick up online and you have an idea of what it's going to be like, but with certain items you really want to be there.
"It's just nice to get out as well. I think it will lift people's moods being able to get out more.
"Just opening up this – you've got people queueing up out the door the first day which speaks volumes."
George Lewis had also travelled from Shifnal and had left her home for the first time since the pandemic began.
She said: "This is the first time I've been out, although I've been in the garden everyday.
"I've put up a bike shed, cleaned everywhere, varnished all the woodwork on the deck and just generally kept busy."
She added: "I think it's good garden centres have reopened as long as people can keep their distance.
"I'm still a bit cautious and I think everybody should wear masks, especially on public transport."