Feed this hunger for plant data

At a time when the UK's garden attractions and historic landscapes and estates are feeling the pressure of the tough economic climate, the latest data on garden visits and the motivation of garden visitors should prove a very useful tool indeed - as well as a fillip in these more challenging times.

The latest statistics gathered by Tenneson Marketing offer a timely reminder of the phenomenal appeal the sector holds within the public - with some 19 million of the adult population having visited a garden in 2010. Few cultural or leisure activities can beat that.

But gardens are indeed feeling the pressure as the report's data for 2010 highlights, with an eight per cent fall in the number of visitors saying they made frequent or very frequent visits during the year. Meanwhile, 57 per cent said their visit was either very or extremely good value for money. Not good enough, says author Malcolm Tenneson. It should be at least 70 per cent.

Thankfully, the report's findings offer some clear pointers. Alongside addressing the obvious and basic comfort issues such as more seating, visitors expressed a clear hunger for more information about the plants, planting schemes and the history of the gardens they are visiting - information which if provided could help to build on the key appeal of visiting gardens as a place for relaxation. Sixty-three per cent said they go to gardens specifically for the plants and 56 per cent specifically because of the historic interest. Yet more than a third felt more and better plant labelling was needed and a quarter wanted more and better information and stories about the gardens and their history. That's one great big opportunity.

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