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Belfast garden centre owner 'relieved' at orderly reopening after coronavirus lockdown restrictions

There was a steady flow of customers at Hillmount Garden Centre on the outskirts of Belfast on Monday.

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Robin Mercer, owner of Hillmount Garden Centres (PA)

Robin Mercer, owner of Hillmount Garden Centres (PA)

Robin Mercer, owner of Hillmount Garden Centres (PA)

The owner of a Belfast garden centre has spoken of his relief at an orderly reopening following lockdown.

There was steady stream of customers at Hillmount Garden Centre on Monday morning, but no long queues.

Owner Robin Mercer said he was delighted at how things had gone.

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There was an orderly re opening at Hillmount Garden Centre in Belfast on Monday. (Rebecca Black/PA)

There was an orderly re opening at Hillmount Garden Centre in Belfast on Monday. (Rebecca Black/PA)

There was an orderly re opening at Hillmount Garden Centre in Belfast on Monday. (Rebecca Black/PA)

“I’m very very happy at how it has gone. We were panicking a wee bit this morning – would there be queues from early morning?” he told the PA news agency.

“But there hasn’t been queues, everyone is coming in at their own pace, not too many at a time, and the comments from customers have been fantastic, they are so happy.

“We have had the online business, which we are going to continue, but it’s so lovely to see so many people about.

“We have learned a lot, over the last few weeks we have been preparing for today, getting all the precautions in. We have maybe gone a bit overboard but I am happy we are ahead of the game and taking all the care we can for customers as well as staff.”

Hilary Hall from Holywood was among those perusing the plants.

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Hilary Hall from Holywood, Co Down was among customers at Hillmount Garden Centre on Monday. (Rebecca Black/PA)

Hilary Hall from Holywood, Co Down was among customers at Hillmount Garden Centre on Monday. (Rebecca Black/PA)

Hilary Hall from Holywood, Co Down was among customers at Hillmount Garden Centre on Monday. (Rebecca Black/PA)

She said she had been using the online delivery service but was delighted to be able to browse herself again.

“I’m here today to look at some plants for the garden that I’ve cleared during lockdown,” she said.

“I bought a lot of bedding plants through the online system so I have all my tubs and baskets done, and I’ve also bought fruit and vegetables from it, which I hadn’t done before. I have grown most of them in tubs so I’m now eating my own strawberries and I’m starting to see little sweet peppers come along, and tomatoes. It has been fabulous. It filled many hours during lockdown.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a garden, and the weather was nice which was great as well. The house has probably never been cleaner. I’ve also started to bake bread in the house which I never used to do before.

“You fill your days, but it will be nice to get out again.”

PA