How is the sector going to fare over this season?

At 2009's first outdoor RHS flower show, held in Cardiff last week, HW asked attendees for their forecasts.

Bob Sweet, head of show development, RHS "Considering everything that's been going on in the world, the interest in gardening is surpassing expectations and interest from visitors in buying tickets for shows and exhibitions is outstanding.

"The only downside is that sponsorship is more difficult to find - and sponsorship always enables us to do the special things we're known for. We're expecting Chelsea to sell out, Malvern is ahead of last year, Tatton is very strong and Hampton Court is at last year's levels. At BBC Gardeners' World Live we have a stronger number of gardens than last year."


Chris Osborne, owner, Churchtown Nurseries "No one knows what the future holds this year because of the current state of the economy.

"We've had a good spring so far and there are a lot of gaps in the garden this year, particularly in the South after all that bad weather in February.

"I'm doing a lot of shows - including all the RHS shows - nine altogether including Malvern in autumn."


Keith Partington, owner, K Partington Alpines "Considering the way the economy is performing at the moment, sales are quite good up to now.

"If people have a few spare pounds and are staying at home they will spend it on the garden.

"I've had a better start than last year, believe it or not. The weather has been OK and plants have come through the winter pretty well.

"With Whiterigg Alpines going into administration, there's a chance for other alpine growers to slowly expand."


Alan Street, representative, Avon Bulbs "I hope people come to flower shows after the horrible winter.

"We lost a lot of stock after the worst frosts for 20 years - we recorded temperatures of -12 degsC.

"I hope people come and cheer themselves up. Spring has been buoyant and the mail order side has held up very well. It usually stops at the end of March but we've been sending out last week.

"We're sending special-offer emails to hundreds of customers and taking loads of orders."

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