Forcing plants for flower shows could undermine gardeners' confidence

After the exceptionally late start to spring, some growers have claimed that using artificial help to bring forward blooming is undermining gardeners' confidence.

Forcing plants for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show leaves amateur gardeners feeling that they are failures and their plants might be dead and it is better to be honest, they advised.

Mickfield Hostas partner Melanie Collins said: "We asked to do an educational stand at Harrogate Spring Flower Show because we don't believe in forcing plants. It's been such awful growing weather and the feedback to the stand from the public has been good because it tells them they're not doing anything wrong. We should be telling people how it is and should not be penalised by judges for it."

Larchfield Trees displayed maple trees not in leaf with snow on the ground to emphasise the lateness of the season. Owner Neil Kenney said: "This is how it is. That's what gives gardeners confidence. It's a true reflection of where we are."

Show organiser Martin Fish said: "We put the word out to exhibitors before the show that if anybody was worried because plants were late, we could work around it. If you grow plants totally out of season, people see them in flower or leaf and think that's how there's should be. If you show something in April that flowers normally in June or July, that is misleading."

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