A HORTICULTURAL nursery which was raided by thieves has created a colourful rainbow of plants as a symbol of hope.

Johnsons of Whixley has put together the display of shrubs, grasses and perennials in a range of foliage and flower colours.

Their customer Helen Taylor Garden Design approached the trade plant nursery with the idea after thieves stole 1000l of diesel from its Kirk Hammerton site and caused costly damage to plant productions beds.

Johnsons have had to bear these losses on top of the grave situation the horticultural industry finds itself in now that gardens centres have been closed due to the coronavirus restrictions on non-essential retail.

The HTA Horticultural Trade Association believe that millions of plants could be binned in the coming weeks.

Group managing director of the family-run business, Graham Richardson said: “We welcomed Helen’s idea to put out a symbol of hope, particularly to our own horticultural industry and as an opportunity to do something positive.

"In these testing times we hope it will lift our staff and trade customers’ spirits as they see the rainbow display with its promise of sunshine after the storm.”

The coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on the horticultural industry following the closure of garden centres, and the fall in demand for UK-grown seasonal plants and flowers since the lockdown.

The HTA has warned that around 650 businesses, many family-run, face the prospect of financial ruin as thousands of plants will have to be scrapped.

Peak season has just weeks left for the horticulture sector which includes the ornamental crop sector, which grows bulbs, bedding plants, cut flowers, pot plants and stock mostly sold through garden centres, supermarkets, florists and DIY stores.

Chairman James Barnes is calling for a Government financial support scheme to help businesses which have had to scrap perishable stock and are facing a huge financial crisis. “Stock write-offs will destroy the balance sheets of many and make it impossible for them to continue."