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BEHIND THE PLANTS: Where Your Orchids Come From

If you buy orchids in the UK, the chances are they have been grown by British nursery Double H. The Hampshire-based grower sells millions of the nation's favourite houseplant and boasts most of the well-known high street retailers as customers. But in April, as loo roll, baking flour and pasta knocked potted plants off our shopping lists, the company had to rethink its future. Demand plummeted and the family-owned nursery was faced with giant glasshouses filled with beautiful orchids but no-one able to buy them.

To save the plants from going to waste, secure the future of the nursery and safeguard jobs, Double H hastily set up its first ever temporary online shop Love Orchids. Just a month later, it had sold and delivered 50,000 orchids to customers' homes across the UK and decided to make a permanent move to selling online as well as to trade. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength and has been able to keep the majority of its 190-employee workforce off furlough and mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic.

Its origins date back four generations to when Joe Stevenson grew sweet peas and carnations in a nursery near New Milton. Moving nearby to the current site in 1961, his son Hugh joined forces with an expert German grower, Helmut Gimmler, to set up Double H, sending their flowers by rail to wholesale markets for sale to florists. Today the company is run by Neil Stevenson and, on its seven hectares, every year grows 1.7 million Phalaenopsis orchids, one million potted roses and 1.6 million chrysanthemums for the well-known supermarkets. Nine of the orchid varieties have scooped the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit including two unusual scented varieties.

"We take time in selecting the best performing varieties for growing and home life whilst also seeking out new colours, forms and scents to excite our customers" said Holly Bhakar, Product Developer at Double H.

This year alone Double H has grown over 100 different varieties of houseplant in its three main greenhouses.

As for many businesses, 2020 may have thrown a curveball at Double H but it seems to not only have dodged it but blossomed. It has just launched an affordable Love Orchids Limited Edition Christmas range offering free home delivery and is planning a new product range that will be launched in January.

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This story was published on: 14/11/2020

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