Seabrook on ... improving shows

There were plenty of RHS members at the October London Show unhappy about further reductions in what were fortnightly events and are to become quarterly, plus the weekend Orchid Show.

At the press briefing about the reduction there were just five non-RHS gardening journalists - HW, the Sun, Times Online, a freelancer and me. Where were the rest? RHS fortnightlies used to be a routine meeting point for at least a dozen media people.

RHS show staff are coming up with good promotional ideas, such as balcony gardens at Inner Temple and vegetables in unusual containers for the October fruit and vegetables show. However, good ideas need to be followed through to attract exhibitors.

Three of the six balcony gardens were not good enough to give this idea a flying start and there were even fewer entries of vegetables in unusual containers. I counted 40 judges and around 20 exhibits at the October show; why were judges not asked to bring a vegetable grown in an unusual container? This would have given a good class to judge - and a few carrots grown with annual flax, for example, would be light enough to carry into London.

Christine Walkden is the new powerhouse of TV gardening, with her regular appearances on BBC1's The One Show at 7pm on weekdays. This gets to the potential new gardeners everyone is trying to reach, so why was her programme not invited to the RHS show?

Fruits of strawberry Christine are, I would bet, all it would have taken to get the two Christines from the show involved. BBC1 cameras at Vincent Square on the Monday evening would have given the world-class Wisley fruit exhibit the publicity it deserved and attracted visitors.

Attendance at the Inner Temple show was 14,500, far more than for Vincent Square shows, so why has the RHS not booked a repeat for 2009? If it was made into the Chrysanthemum and Dahlia show and organisers put in large, colourful beds of autumn chrysanthemums, it would build the spectacle.

Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster.

- Comment at www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk.


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