Gardeners' World too late in the season, say retailers

BBC Gardeners' World starts broadcasting too late in the spring for gardeners to grow many of the plants the programme is promoting, say garden centre managers.

The show may launch too late this year to help fruit sales, said Buckingham Garden Centre planteria manager Chris Day.

He said: "Early spring would be the perfect time for the trade. We would want to sell dormant plants such as raspberry canes before they come into leaf. Gardeners' World starting late would make the process more difficult.

"For apples and pears it's fine because they're sold in pots. But we could have offered more variety if programmes started early in spring. This could be a missed opportunity for the trade."

Presenter Carol Klein told HW that the 2009 series would not begin until 3 April - just a week before Easter. Last year's programmes began on 29 February, the BBC said. Programmes such as QVC's gardening shopping show now begin in January.

The late start is believed to be due to cost constraints.

Klein, whose new BBC/RHS book Grow Your Own Fruit is expected to set the season's biggest trend, said: "We're starting again at the beginning of April. It is late to come back and people are interested in starting things off early."

Gardeners' World will run three specials, including one on peat filmed at Westland in Ireland, from 13 March.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "They could do their specials when people aren't going to buy plants and products, and warm up the spring season when people are getting into their gardens in March."

Day has asked HW's online forum for help promoting grow-your-own fruit this spring.

Respondee Geoff Parsons said garden centres and nurseries should consider running a series of short courses and work with their local college to build on what the TV programmes cover, including the selection of fruit trees and bushes and disease control.

He also suggested promoting "family" activities, such as: picking and storing fruit; bottling, freezing and drying fruit; and making chutneys, jams and desserts.

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