Helping to paint the town red!

Duncan Taylor, owner of Arden Lea nurseries, with his poinsettias

Duncan Taylor, owner of Arden Lea nurseries, with his poinsettias

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BOOTHS is “painting the town red” with a dazzling display of Christmas poinsettias this year – despite a national shortage of UK grown plants.

Rising energy costs and cheap foreign imports have put a dampener on many British growers and the festive favourites are thin on the ground in many parts of the country.

But supermarket chain Booths, which has stores in both Garstang and Longridge, has sourced a blooming supply of poinsettias from a local nursery to ensure its customers can enjoy a red and rosy Christmas season.

Arden Lea Nurseries in Preston has grown a bumper crop of crimson red plants for 2011. Its selection of locally-grown poinsettias in three different formats is available to buy at Booths stores from now until the New Year.

In total Arden Lea will deliver around 20,000 plants to Booths’ 28 stores during the coming months. Each plant will arrive in store within hours of leaving the nursery to ensure all are at their freshest.

Booths buyer Keith Parkinson said: “Poinsettias are one of the magic ingredients for a perfect Christmas. Our locally-grown plants are brighter and bushier than many of the foreign counterparts and we’re delighted to be supporting a local supplier who works so hard to ensure that Christmas will be merry and red.”

British growers have to compete with European growing techniques, which produce more plants per square metre – but often at the expense of producing a weaker, lower quality plant.

Poinsettias need very careful – and expensive – conditions to grow, most notably an 18C (64F) temperature.

Duncan Taylor, owner of Arden Lea nurseries, said: “Poinsettias are a very exacting plant to grow and there’s been pressure on growers to sell them for virtually nothing, which means some growers have given up.

But Booths supports local growers like us and we work together to ensure we can grow the finest quality poinsettias, which can last for up to three or four months.”

Duncan’s top tips for caring for the plants include taking

them home as quickly as possible so they do not sit in a cold car for too long. He advises placing them away from radiators and fires, not letting the room temperature drop below 10C and keeping the plant away from draughts.

They are ready to be watered when the compost is dry and should never be allowed to stand in water.