Monday, June 14, 2010

Shows to go (or not to go)

It's that time of year when there seems to be a gardening show every weekend. Next weekend is Gardeners' World Live at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham (also the date of the Great Gardening Show at Loseley Park, in Surrey), the following weekend is the Cottesbrooke Plant Finders' Fair at Cottesbrooke in Northamptonshire, and the weekend after that is the Hampton Court Flower Show. At the end of July, there's the big RHS show at Tatton Park in Cheshire.
Have I got the energy to go to any of these?
I've never been to the Gardeners' World Live show and I think that situation might remain the same in 2010. It sounds great, but I'd probably go on the train, which means trailing any purchases halfway across London on the way home. Not an attractive proposition on a hot Saturday evening.
The Great Gardening Show at Loseley used to be good fun (and only 30 minutes from home by car) but it's under new management this year. The big attraction in previous years was that there were always quite a few nurseries selling later season stuff such as daylilies and cannas or even exotic plants.
Under new management, who knows? Looking through the list of exhibitors so far, it seems to be heavy on garden hardware and light on plants. Thank goodness for Horticulture Week, where I read about the change of management, because as far as I could see, it was being presented as exactly the same show. I may pass.
The idea of negotiating the North Circular and then driving two hours up the M1 (one of my least favourite motorways in Britain) puts me off going to Cottesbrooke. But I've heard so many people rave about it, I'm now quite tempted. I think I may pencil that one in.
Hampton Court is a must, rain or shine (and believe me, I've been in both). I get a press pass but unlike Chelsea, a media ticket is actually a bit of a drawback if you want to buy plants. Most of the exhibitors scuttle off as soon as they've set up. It's not worth their while to hang around all day on the off-chance that the odd hack might buy something.
Even if they haven't disappeared, the marquees tend to get roped off one by one while the judges go round. Far better to go on a normal day.
Have any of you got any thoughts on any of these shows? Is anyone planning to visit? Let me know your thoughts.