London gardens hit hard in 2012

Rain and competition from the Olympics combine to make a difficult year for garden attractions.

2012 was a tough year for attractions such as Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
2012 was a tough year for attractions such as Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Gardens have been hardest hit by rain and competition from the Olympics with the gardens and leisure sector seeing a 21.3 per cent fall in visitors in London.

Members in the rest of England saw an average fall of 4.7 per cent across 2,000 tourist sites, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

Historic Houses Association (HHA) president Edward Harley, speaking at the group's annual event in London last week, said a "significant decline in visitor numbers" meant some of his members have extended their visiting season this year.

He told delegates that a "tough economic environment" has hit events and spends at weddings, while the weather has reduced attendances across his 300 members' houses.

After a "disastrous visiting year for many in the HHA through cancellations and bad weather", Levens Hall's Susie Bagot questioned whether there will be any ongoing benefit from the Olympics legacy.

Harley and Heritage Alliance chairman Loyd Grossman said there would, while ALVA chief executive Bernard Donoghue said the "economic benefits for tourism of hosting the Olympics would be long-term rather than short-term".

He added: "The appalling weather during much of the year has led to one of the worst trading periods since 2001 and foot and mouth. For London attractions the Olympic period was one of their worst trading periods in living memory and for visitor attractions the summer is their equivalent of retailers' Christmas - once lost, the business can't be won back."

Also speaking at the HHA event, Professional Gardeners' Guild chairman Tony Arnold said members had questioned whether the rain or the Olympics led to lower visitor numbers at gardens, though he believed rain was more to blame this year.

He said gardens need to diversify to bring in greater numbers through adding playgrounds and exhibitions. "Garden visiting is becoming quite an expensive day out with the increasing cost of transport, admissions, food and guide books."

Harley noted that 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown's birth and HHA members own half of Brown's existing landscapes, which will mean many celebrations.

Guild launches DVD

The Professional Gardeners' Guild launched a five-minute DVD at the annual Historic Houses Association event in London last week.

It features gardeners such as Sam Youd, friends of the guild including Ken Thompson and John Sales, landowners such as Lord Ashbrook and students talking about the guild's benefits. See about-the-pgg.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Be wary of unscrupulous clients who may look for loopholes to avoid settling up at the end of a job, Alan Sargent warns.

Living walls

Living walls

The benefits of green walls make them worth investigation by all green-space professionals, says Miranda Kimberley.

Business planning - improving productivity through training

Business planning - improving productivity through training

How to create a structured training programme for your staff to give your business a competitive edge, by Neville Stein.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

BALI National Landscape Awards 2017

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

-Download the Digital Edition

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Products & Kit Resources

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space

Read Noel Farrer