Garden shows are wonderful things. They provide so much to everyone involved. The thing is something has happened to these shows all over the world and it is sad to see so many growing smaller and even disappearing.
Garden shows give us so much
Garden shows as events
Garden shows are events. They attract people with interests in everything garden. And they can be packed
Check out the orchid displays in Singapore in 2014. It was difficult to move in this pavilion let alone try to take photos.
Events like this are great for the local community. They bring in tourists with money and they add excitement and life to a city
It is no wonder that garden shows are held all over the world in cities and towns.
They give pleasure for those who attend the shows
Great Gardens of the USA – The Austin Garden designed by Sadie May Stowell
The list is long.
- Gardeners looking for new ideas or the latest plant which might fit that difficult corner
- Those looking to catch the latest trends in the garden world, from professionals working in the industry to home gardeners wanting to keep the style of their home current
- Those just looking for a delicious day out enjoying the beauty of the best in the industry
- Those looking to see if a designer or business can meet a particular desire or need
For the exhibitors
The LG Smart Garden by Hay Joung Hwang Chelsea 2016
These guys exhibit for one reason. To attract prospective clients to their product.
- A top end garden designer with a showcase landscape garden on show
- A sponsor with a cause or product on display
- A plantsman with the latest being promoted for sale
- A product to water, or fertilise or shade or whatever
All exhibitors are in one way or another looking to make money
What’s happening today
The problem is garden shows are no longer attracting people across the board. And from what I can see those still attending fall mainly into one category – those just looking for a delicious day out enjoying the beauty of the best in the industry – and they are of a certain age. This group is not spending money on anything other than the odd delicious plant or special widget to make gardening more fun or easier.
Is gardening losing its popularity?
Especially for those younger and more monied.
The answer is no. Not in the big gardening nations anyway – the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and of course the UK.
But gardening is different today for a number of reasons.
Gardens are smaller
The Art of Nature – a balcony garden in Singapore by James Lim
With growing populations, increasing densities and younger home owners, houses are smaller so gardening needs to change to meet that need.
Gardeners’ aspirations are changing – they want the little outdoor space they have to be completely people orientated with entertaining space and easy maintenance. Still beautiful and still a space for serenity and growing veggies, but not much more than that.
So traditional garden shows are becoming irrelevant I think
From what I can see, garden shows which are not responding to the changes are becoming smaller or disappearing altogether. And that includes some of the top ranking shows around.
I have watched Ellerslie in New Zealand disappear altogether– I know this was tied somewhat into the catastrophe of the earthquakes that hit Christchurch but that earthquake was not the only thing that applied. They just could not get the numbers to make the show worthwhile when it was resurrected in 2014 and hopefully its move back to Auckland this year will prove to be the answer.
I have watch Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show each year become smaller with fewer and fewer exhibits in both the floral section and the garden exhibits. And the gardens on show have become smaller and seemingly lost their flair. This year the Show was definitely the smallest and notable for the absence of some of the industry big guys. The wonderful Yates garden was not there for instance, nor was the Tourism Northern Territory represented. And sponsored gardens had reduced in size. Beyond Blue has had wonderful gardens in the past and this year theirs was about a quarter of the size.
I watch Sydney try at least twice to put on garden shows and fail within two years.
So, I am not surprised Chelsea Garden Show has had its hiccups this year. I know that the impact of Brexit on the British economy and the need to up security for this huge event have been given as reasons for this year’s sudden decline in the big exhibits and sponsors. But I have to say I think this sudden big hit was the result of more than just these things. I think these reasons were convenient straws that broke the camel’s back.
Big garden shows are becoming irrelevant to the industry. It is not worth sponsoring or building big gardens which no longer attract the money.
It is interesting to see then that there are some exceptions. I cannot comment on the American shows but for the others I think these two are on the money one way or another.
Singapore wins hands down. But Singapore Garden Festival is not a traditional garden show. Singapore is developing fast and housing densities are increasing at a rate. They are still reclaiming land. The result is that climate change is dramatically having a local effect. Temperatures are rising with the loss of vegetation and the increasing built development. So the Singapore Government is doing everything it can to encourage developers and locals to grow plants – everywhere. Up walls, on roofs. In any ground space available, on balconies. This garden show is a teaching aid for the people of Singapore. Tourism is a very secondary benefit. And as a result the big landscape gardens are really not promoted as being an important part of the show.
I understand that Toronto Garden Show is also still successful. Looking at why I’d say the exhibitors are relevant to what is happening in t
And I wonder how Hampton Court will fair this year. Smaller, fresher, younger in feel and more contemporary than its big sister Chelsea, I think this show is about to take over the crown of the best of garden shows.