Yorkshire TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh is backing industry calls for more Government support for garden centres, amid warnings that £200m pounds worth of seasonal plants will have to be destroyed because of the shut down.

Hundreds of nurseries and growers - many of them family businesses - face ruin as the market for seasonal plants has been halted at the busiest time of year when people normally flock to outlets to restock their gardens.

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is calling for government support to help the industry. An appeal which has been echoed by celebrity gardener Mr Titchmarsh.

Credit: Press Association

"This means not only a loss of billions of pounds to the UK economy and of thousands of jobs but, more than this, it will decimate an industry that will be unable to recover for the foreseeable future.

Alan Titchmarsh, gardener

The virus lockdown means there are unlikely to be any sales over Easter and through to the May bank holiday, the busiest time of year for the gardening sector.

HTA chairman James Barnes warned that growers are facing stock losses on an ever-rising scale as each day passes estimating a total loss of around £687m by the end of June.

"We are calling for the Government to work with the HTA, as the industry'srepresentative body, to come up with a financial support scheme to help those businesses which have had to scrap perishable stock and are facing a huge financial crisis."