Extension option splits exhibitors

RHS decision to extend Malvern Show with an extra day splits exhibitor opinion

Growers are split over whether the RHS’s decision to extend Malvern Spring Gardening Show by an extra day in 2006 is a good one or not. RHS shows director Stephen Bennett said the showground was “just about at capacity” at a record 98,000 attendance (5,000 more than attended in 2003 and 2004) but the capacity of its facilities — car-parking, catering and toilets — were at breaking point. He added that the RHS and co-organiser the Three Counties Agricultural Society had been on the brink of making a change for three years. He said the decision differs from this year’s controversial Chelsea flower show extension because it is at the beginning rather than at the end of the show. He added that attendance could go up by five to 10 per cent, the extra capacity will allow the RHS to give the show more promotion and the BBC will have the chance to film earlier, meaning “the quality of the coverage will improve”. The 21st-anniversary show will open on 11 May at midday next year. Bennett said some exhibitors had “mixed feelings” but added that “the demand is there”. Cook’s Garden Centre owner Paul Cook said the move should have come 10 years ago and will build customer numbers by 20 to 25 per cent. But WETh Ingwersen manager Martyn Flint said: “The extra day won’t do us any good at all. The small increase in visitor numbers won’t be sufficient to give us another full day’s takings. Whenever shows have gone an extra day in the past they take years to recover.” Suffolk-based Fernatix won the Lyn Downes best floral marquee exhibit for its ferns display. Co-owner Steven Fletcher said buyers were making a beeline for the company’s stand because of the publicity the award brought

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