2020 – the year that changed the rules

Expert Centre blog

Sat at my computer a year ago thinking about what 2019 had delivered for us and looking to 2020, I, and no one else (not even Mystic Meg) could have predicted what we have lived through in the past 10 months.

Looking to 2021, I wonder what we have in store? In truth, these are always tricky things to write, you always end up looking daft if you predict things wildly wrong, but, I want to look back on 2020 and what its changed for the positive.

We knew Covid-19 would impact us in many ways, but it does feel like everything is “earlier”. Whether that was buying a pumpkin at the local patch (THE autumn Instagram trend) or the purchase of the Christmas tree two weeks early (me) and even putting them up at the start of lockdown 2.0 in November (not me), we just want to get cracking, no time to be wasted, just do what you want, when you want, to be happy.

For me, purchasing a Christmas tree is something I bounce about for weeks and in 2020, when I drove past the garden centre to see a lorry full of trees, I knew I had to go that day, a week or so ahead of “schedule”.  However, because this is 2020, there are no rules anymore and the fact I was side-tracked by two days, I was disappointed to find all the 9ft trees had gone by the time I got there. No doubt into homes of those who subsequently panicked realising it was too big and had to cut 2 foot off the bottom. An unbelievable waste if you ask me. We have the ceiling height, I’d go for 11ft if I was allowed… but I digress.

While at the local garden centre, more “2020 rule breaking” was happening, in the 45 minutes we were selecting our tree (it’s a serious business), they had three phone calls asking when the poinsettias were coming in, unusual according to the poor man digging out various trees for us. Now usually, Poinsettia Week is around the 11th December, but this is 2020, “typical rules” are being broken and the demand for this festive plant is peaking ahead of schedule, just like it’s Christmas tree counterpart.

And now, we see beautiful poinsettias are everywhere. Our island produces 3,500,000 of them each year and we purchase 7,000,000. While that sounds a lot, compared to our European friends, we are in the small league.  The Netherlands, usually at the forefront of all things ornamentals produces 17.5 million (almost one for each person). Italy, 20 million. But our German friends, the champions of the Christmas market and those credited with bringing Christmas trees into homes back in the 16th century, they produce a whopping 30 million poinsettia each year.  

Random acts of kindness

So back to reflecting. 2020 has apparently evolved into a year that promotes random acts of kindness. About time. Back in February, a celebrity, while potentially not known to everyone prior, should be known to you now, the host of Love Island, Caroline Flack, died by suicide at 40 years old. In the days and weeks that followed, a trend, and a pandemic, began to emerge. “Be kind” is a phrase many of us should live by and something that has grown throughout 2020.

2021 will always be known as “post pandemic”, how we recover, how we move forward but also the learns and changes in behaviours we hope to take with us, that will define how we learn from Covid-19. We hope the maintaining and improving of outdoor spaces will continue with more plants purchased as people become more adventurous with their gardens. But for me, the random acts of kindness will define 2020. Whether that’s buying flowers or plants and leaving them on park benches for strangers, buying chocolate for children whose mother has forgotten her purse, or sending a plant to a friend, it's being kind.

Therefore, I want to leave you with a couple of things. Firstly, congratulations for making it through 2020, we never thought we would come this far, or still be where we are now, but remember that relief when that final poinsettia leaves you and lands in a house like mine. It was, and is, all worth it. Secondly, I hope we can continue to provide information, knowledge and a product range that assists you in producing great plants. We know #flowersfeedthesoul, but now, it’s #Christmasfeedthesoul.

I, and the Syngenta team, wish you a very Merry Christmas, happy new year and a kinder 2021.