GARDEN centres across Hampshire and the New Forest are blooming again after opening their doors for the first time in almost two months.

Plant centres are back in business following the government’s decision to ease some of the lockdown rules imposed on March 23 in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

A handful of customers were waiting outside Haskins Garden Centre in West End, Southampton, at 9am yesterday.

A member of staff wearing a face visor presented each one with a pre-cleaned trolley as they were called forward.

People arriving by car were asked to use alternate parking spaces. The centre's cafe and toilet were closed as part of social distancing measures inside the store.

Haskins has extended its opening hours to enable customers to spread their visits across the day and thus reduce the length of queues.

The centre has also introduced a "card payments only" rule to protect staff and customers.

In a message to gardeners the company said: "Remember that although we are open we haven't returned to normal. We encourage you to shop individually where possible."

One of the people who took to social media after the site reopened said: "Wanted to say a big 'thank you' to all the staff.

"I was greeted with a warm welcome and was very impressed with the layout and how well all the safety measures have been put in place."

Other garden centres open for business included Dobbies in Lyndhurst Road, Cadnam.

Horticulture manager Oli Neave. said: “It has been nice and busy today, with a steady and controlled queue outside the store.

“The social distancing measures we have put in place have been well received and I would like to thank all our team members who have been helping each other, and customers, observe these.

“Plants and compost have been selling well, with lots of appetite for fresh bedding plants and vegetables.”