Lismore Garden Centre owner David Manby (left) and staff member Cameron Johns enjoy the autumn sunshine.
Lismore Garden Centre owner David Manby (left) and staff member Cameron Johns enjoy the autumn sunshine. Cathy Adams

Weathering the storm

SOME people get annoyed when rain interrupts their day at the beach or park, but for plant nursery businesses, the effects can be much more costly.

Rainfall was abundant on the Northern Rivers in April, with Lismore receiving 145mm - nearly twice the month's median - and many local nurseries are bordering on closure due to a drop in sales.

"We were down 40% to 50% on sales last month," Lismore Garden Centre co-owner David Manby said.

"March and April for the past two years have been virtually non-events because they've been wiped out by rain.

"When it gets very wet, people stop buying plants because the ground is too sodden to plant them and they can get root-rot.

"You can rebound fairly well when nice weather comes back but we've already missed out on two months of our boom time, which is March to May and August to October."

Alstonville Garden House opened four months ago and co-owner Andrew Leslie said wet weather had made it hard to get his business off the ground.

"We're starting from a zero base because we're brand new and some of these past weeks it's been so wet, people couldn't plant, so they didn't buy," he said.

However, a sunny start to May has re-instilled hope in nursery owners who hope to make up for recent financial losses.

According to Weather Channel senior meteorologist Tom Saunders, Northern Rivers residents can expect fine conditions for at least the next week.

"So far this month we've been dominated by high pressure systems which lead to dry conditions," he said. "The current system will continue to sit over our region at least for another seven days and we won't see any significant rainfall."



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