RHS scales back exhibitor cuts as tickets sell well

The RHS has backed off from making cuts of up to 20 per cent of floral marquee nursery exhibitors after seeing an upturn in bookings for 2010 shows.

RHS head of shows development Bob Sweet said: "We announced to exhibitors in October 2009, after taking stock, that we would reduce the number of exhibitors at Hampton Court and Tatton. But ticket sales have been very good for 2010 shows so we're confident that we can rise above 2009 figures."

Hampton Court visitor numbers fell from 180,000 to 160,000 and Tatton Park fell from 90,000 to 70,000 in 2009. But after promising ticket sales for 2010, the RHS reinstated six floral exhibitors at Hampton Court and 10 at Tatton Park, with the plant heritage marquee becoming separate from the nursery marquee at Tatton.

The Hampton Court floral marquee will have 93 exhibits this year compared to 99 in 2009. They will be supported by additional floral content across the showground. Tatton is likely to have 77 against the 87 it featured last year.

Before the RHS announced its decision to scale back the stand cuts, Horticultural Exhibitors Association chairman and Rougham Hall Nurseries owner Kelvin Harbutt told HW: "They say they've cut the floral marquee exhibitors because gate numbers have gone down. That keeps the same amount of money per exhibitor. Anything that loses our exhibitors business is bad for them. Some rely on shows."

Harbutt is missing Malvern but has taken over a late cancellation at Hampton Court. The RHS has not given him a space at Chelsea in his nursery's 50th anniversary year.

Other nurseries that failed to win places include Suffolk's Mickfield Hostas and Shropshire's Hillview Hardy Plants, which will miss Tatton, and Derbyshire Bonsai, which will miss Hampton Court.

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