For many, especially those without gardens, they also provided a much-needed link with nature during the pandemic lockdowns.
As a horticulturalist of 35 years Nicky Fraser knows more than most about helping plants to thrive. She runs Loam plants and desirables, based at Maws Craft Centre in Jackfield, and specialises in unusual and hard to find houseplants. Each day is spent surrounded by greenery at the shop where she is able to share her extensive knowledge with customers.
“It’s been my love from the earliest age and the reason people like to come to my shop is that they know they will get accurate instructions on how to keep their plants alive,” she tells Weekend.
Nicky, who lives in Ironbridge, grew up visiting her uncle’s allotment and says this is where her love of plants, of all varieties, first blossomed.
“It was my uncle who taught me how to garden. I was completely fascinated by it,” she explains.
“Growing up there were other distractions and I moved to New York and London and then to Leicester. I got married and my husband and I bought our first house which had a tiny patch of a garden. It rekindled my love of gardening.
“I was working for an estate agent at the time and I just woke up one morning and thought I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to work in horticulture. I handed my notice in and got a job at a rose nursery, and then I worked for a tree nursery. I decided to get my qualifications and applied to a horticultural college in Leicester. I passed with distinction and then I worked for a gardening magazine as a technical writer.”