Urgent 2021 Season Ordering Update posted 12th December 2020 please read all of the information below please do not contact us to ask questions that are covered in this update as they will not be answered

Ordering Scented Leaf Pelargonium for the 2021 Season Brexit and Covid impacts

It is with utter regret that we shall not be accepting any pre orders for the coming 2021 Season. We may possibly accept real time orders late May - June although at this time of writing this remains unknown. Read below...

We appreciate that this will be a real disappointment to our Loyal Supporters; many of you have regularly ordered from us for almost 15 years. As most of you will appreciate we are all living through unprecedented and historical times; this includes us.

At this point in time, mid December 2020, we have to be totally honest and say that we have no idea how 2021 is likely to progress.
Whether we shall be in a position to take any orders during 2021 is at this point absolutely impossible to predict. See below re Brexit and Northern Ireland Protocol.
We have to strongly request, please do not contact us to ask us to take an order direct as we are unable to do this. Neither will we reply to emails where the topics have been covered in this post.

We explain fully below how we are attempting to rationalise what happened during 2020 and whether 2021 remains viable for us

early 2020 - Covid Pandemic
we picked up on how serious the virus was likely to be very early in 2020 and understood by February that this was going to have ongoing implications for the remainder of the year.
by March 2020 we had 5 months of pre orders and to put it mildly a sense of panic was real. we were all placed in lockdown throughout the UK and nobody had any idea what was likely to happen going forward. Shock, Horror, Panic all springs to mind.

there we were in March 2020 with thousands of jumbo stater scented geraniums in our tunnels reaching perfect size and condition and ready to be posted to fulfil the pre orders. the big questions at that time were - HOW? WHEN? SHOULD WE CANCEL AND REFUND ALL EXISTING ORDERS? given that we are located in Northern Ireland this added to the dilemma as we always dispatch using the Royal Mail. we took the risk to post out existing orders during March and thankfully it worked out OK.

Dilemma HOW were we to get the parcels of plants safely to the sorting office almost 10 miles away? a very scary proposition to have to do during March 2020

taking into account that Guy remains a 'Shielder', I'm no spring chicken myself, we had no staff and live in an isolated countryside location. our nearest neighbours are farmers who are also 'Shielders'. I can honestly say that it seemed an impossible problem to have arisen and resolve.
Plan A March in to April 2020 - we contacted a local taxi firm who we persuaded to take the parcels to the sorting office. reluctant to do so but did this for a few weeks. a very costly and unreliable solution. it soon became obvious that this wasn't going to work in the long term.
Plan B April through to September - I was left with no alternative than to take the parcels to the sorting office each Monday. trust me I was really terrified doing this as it was clear even then that the majority of people were just not getting the seriousness of the virus. no face masks, no social distancing etc. Me - I was wearing a mask from early March + surgical gloves + a big bottle of hand sanitiser in our van. this continues to this day. I remain nervous going anywhere and only go out when absolutely necessary. majority of shopping is online. I still find it astonishing just how reckless some people still are - no thought for any other person. anyway, somehow we  managed to get through 2020 and all orders were fulfilled, delivered safely, all but one that went astray in the Royal Mail system

December 2020
SHALL WE TAKE 2021 PRE ORDERS - THE LATEST DILEMMA? BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS? PANDEMIC?

seriously what next? it's a multi whammy so to speak. Covid + Brexit + no staff + shielding + reckless public
we have closely monitored the progression of the virus and the Brexit negotiations. this past week, one might say, is the final straw that has broken the camel's back. never in all of our business lives have we encountered so many obstacles to overcome. 
remember, we are located in Northern Ireland and it seems that last week we have been annexed from the remainder of the UK with an imaginary border in the Irish Sea. where did that one come from? we have been contacting a lot of authorities this past week or so in an attempt to get clarification as to where that leaves us re posting live plants to England, Wales and Scotland? nobody is able to give us any answers - it's a total mess. you see, this is what is not being made clear behind the political scenes, live plants may well end up becoming a restricted and prohibited item from Northern Ireland to GB due to EU regulations. are you shocked to hear this - we are. from what we have discovered so far it seems that the plants that we grow will need an EU plant passport + an inspection here at our Nursery prior to us being able to post to GB. plants grown in England, Wales and Scotland it seems will come under a new UK plant passport scheme. this also will apply to seeds
HELP! work this out, we live in the UK and are governed by the UK but from January 1st 2021 we will now have to trade under the jurisdiction of the EU. This is where the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Good Friday Agreement comes into play.
If you live in England, Wales or Scotland this will likely mean nothing much to you. As English born people living in NI I can assure you this is a very serious and worrying turn of events in many ways.

Going forward in to 2021 - the decisions that we have reluctantly made

  • this will be the first year that we have not taken pre orders for a Spring Delivery and we offer our apologies for this disappointment
  • it is likely that we shall not take any orders until, at the earliest, late May in to June or possibly not at all
  • if we do decide to take orders late Spring, early summer - the plants listed will be real time jumbo starter size availability. this will mean that not every type will be available every week
  • delivery schedules will be determined nearer the time. we aim to make as few journeys as is possible to the Royal Mail sorting office
  • Royal Mail - is being slow to update the Brexit situation and how this will impact on posting parcels from NI to GB and vv. it may well turn out that the RM classifies live plants and seeds as being a prohibited and restricted item. WHO KNOWS?
  • so far from what we are able to work out it appears that any parcel from GB to NI will need a customs declaration. this will create immense problems for us to source horticultural products that we need to continue to grow scented pelargonium
  • even receiving personal purchases from the likes of Amazon may need customs declarations. AS UK CITIZENS HOW HAS THIS BEEN ALLOWED TO HAPPEN? Yes, we are more than annoyed.

ULTIMATE WORSE CASE SCENARIO GOING FORWARD FROM 2021 AND BEYOND
Any sensible thinking person with a small business throughout the UK must be thinking is all of this stress worth it?
NO it isn't.
The question is for 2021 and beyond is shall we call it a day? Neither of us are getting any younger. Is this the time to enjoy life, what we have left of it?
YES it is

For now the jury is out and we'll see what each passing week brings...we'll keep you updated when we have further info.

To our thousands of Loyal Followers thanks again for all of the support you have given us over many, many years...much appreciated

Annie and Guy
scentedgeraniums.co.uk

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