According To Seabrook ... Money must be found to protect floral art

Dingle Gardens continue to do Shrewsbury credit. The turf and formal flower beds have been maintained to the highest standards for more than 60 years to my certain knowledge. It would be a tragedy if Britain lost the art and skill of producing these colourful displays.

They are a great asset to the Shrewsbury Flower Show, which in this its 125th year continued to stage a comprehensive programme from massed bands and showjumping to sheepdog trials, choirs and fireworks to complement the competitive horticultural exhibits. Regional and national flower shows have their work cut out providing spectacle to match the entry price.

The more so when you remember the colourful floral displays put on by garden centres these days, not to mention their easy access plus free entry and car parking. Last month, I was impressed by the show house at Coolings in Kent filled with a wide range of delightful summer bedding and then at Otter Nurseries and Garden Centre in Devon, both indoors and out, its plant displays were up to international flower show standards.

A number of the regional flower shows are giving greater access to what is known as the "trolley boys" - traders with huge lorries loaded with Danish trolleys full of 9cm and 11cm pots of overgrown plants from Dutch auctions at clearance, cut prices. It does not take long for their presence to pull a show down to car boot sale standards.

Specialist nurseries dependant on the show circuit are in steady decline and this year's wet summer and show cancellations are likely to speed the drop-out rate. This should come as no surprise - growing plants, loading them onto a lorry, transporting them, incurring overnight accommodation costs and then having the show cancelled at short notice is a financial disaster.

Money has to be found to support inspirational displays of flowers, fruits and vegetables if we are to retain our reputation as a nation of gardeners. Excepting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, it is difficult to see who is going to come up with this cash.

Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster.


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