Snapshot: Horticulture sector reacts to COVID-19

Members of our Horticulture community and our partners share strategies, thoughts and insight during the Coronavirus storm


“Non-essential retailers have been shut down to reduce the exposure and spread of the virus, but Gardening and DIY are classed as essential, as people are now growing their own food and will need seed, young plants, compost, tools etc.

“This could prove vitally important for the health and wellbeing of the thousands of people who are now at home in isolation; many of whom are suddenly finding themselves unemployed and facing an uncertain future.

“The subsequent benefit to mental and physical health is immeasurable.”

Nuala Young, Young Nurseries


“Many designers work from home, nothing new there. Sharing the space with the rest of the family now also working from home – well, that’s new! We are finding our own ‘office’ niches and a routine around coffee breaks, lunch etc. and the work carries on. Blessed in so many ways that we can.

“No doubt there will be fewer inquiries from now on, due to economic uncertainties and just the need to stay apart. For many though, now more than ever, they need a garden. Even just the promise of one. Who knows when we will be able to travel again or eat out, but we can still have a garden, a sanctuary; reassurance that life goes on.

“Not being able to go out, one can still journey to the garden, enjoying each new flower, the potential of tulip buds not yet open and the fragrance of spring-flowering shrubs. Each day something new and beautiful.

“These traumatic times will probably change the way people view their garden, not as a place for entertaining, but more as a very personal sanctuary from the vagaries of the world.”

Patricia Tyrell, landscape architect, garden designer and horticulturist


For the first time in its history, UCD has become a virtual university. All lectures and most assessments will now be done online where students are studying remotely and all lectures are being delivered by narrated PowerPoint presentations or online video lectures. While this provides new challenges for practical horticulture and laboratory sessions both horticulture staff and students are rising to the challenge. It is anticipated that students will be able to complete their full academic programme for this year.

“Also, UCD is home to the National Virus Reference Laboratory that has been conducting the initial tests for the SARS-Covid-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease. However, recently a number of other laboratories around the country have started to conduct tests in the mass screening for this virus. Some of the agriculture and horticulture students who were due to go abroad on professional work experience will now be working in one of these testing laboratories to assist the national effort to control this pandemic.“

“UCD is also home to the first call centre outside the HSE, staffed by volunteer UCD students and staff, to provide test results, information and advice and contact tracing to those who have had Covid-19 tests.“

Professor Owen Doyle, Head and Programme Director of Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science


“I have plenty of stock ready for sale online, and I will continue to engage with the hobby gardeners, targeting my advertising and social media to them for now. There may even be an increase in people enjoying time in their gardens when there are few other leisure activities available to them. I will be relying on this ‘grassroots’ approach to build my brand.

“In the meantime, as a microbiologist, I have registered my interest with the HSE to help out in this crisis. From my studies and previous employments, I have experience carrying out the sort of diagnostic tests being used for COVID-19.

“In my absence, my husband and teenage sons will be manning the fort, and the teenagers might make a better job at social media advertising than their mother!”

Dr. Karen O’Hanlon, CEO Probio Carbon


“At Enrich Environmental Ltd we have reviewed our procedures and adapted the way we work so that we can continue to operate during the current Covid-19 outbreak. The health and safety of our staff are paramount. All staff who can work from home are doing so. The staff that must be present on site have been split into teams and we have set up temporary canteens and new toilets to ensure social distancing.

“A new system has been set up for hauliers and delivery drivers that minimises person to person contact for weighbridge staff. We are doing everything we can to continue processing and producing our organic compost and soil products. Gardening, Landscaping and DIY are among the few activities that people can do safely to stay sane during isolation! Stay safe everyone.”

Brian Murphy, Senior Scientist, Enrich Environmental Ltd


“To help minimise the progression of the virus, Bayer employees are working remotely, but we still continue to deliver Bayer products to groundsmen and amenity contractors throughout the UK and Ireland. We are maintaining business continuity, and our supply processes are best in class ensuring priority products reach customers.

“Bayer announced it is joining the US Government’s fight against COVID-19 with a donation of 3 million tablets of the drug Resochin (chloroquine phosphate). New data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with COVID-19 infection.”

Alan Morris, Country Head ES UK & Ireland, Bayer.