If Chelsea is the Harvey Nicks of the annual gardening events then Gardeners' World Live is surely the Wilkinsons. Like Wilkinsons it fulfils its role as the cheap and cheerful side of gardening (actually the Sock finds Wilkinsons quite depressing and only ever goes there to buy cat grit which is considerably cheaper than the same brand at Sainsburys - illustrating that we all have our price). But this year the Sock and others felt a distinctly downbeat vibe coming from the show.
A report from Pork Chop (cousin of the more famous sock - Lamb Chop) who has been a keen GW Live visitor over the years but believes standards are dropping:
"GW Live was crap to put it mildly. When we first went about 10 or 11 years ago, there were 5 halls, plus the atrium, plus the whole of the outdoor area with at least 90% of the stands devoted to gardening related products and plants. There were the odd food and drink, kitchen gadgets, type stands but these were the minority. This has gradually declined over the years and the gardening section has shrunk. This time, there were only one and a half halls and some of the outside space. The plant mall which used to have 30-40 nurseries and took up half a hall on its own, was reduced to about 12 small stands. The RHS marquee had acres of space where stands would have been in the past and many well known nurseries were conspicuous by their absence.
We will not be gracing the NEC with our presence next year - such a shame as it used to be so good. The organisers have put their exhibitor charges up so much that the majority can't afford to display there any more because they can't sell enough to make up the charges for the stand. Most of it was uninspiring .
Alan Titchmarsh in the celebrity theatre had sold out but obviously there were some available for Joe Swift and tickets to see Toby Buckland were free! Actually, they were both quite good although Joe inevitably talked about his allotment and Toby talked about green roofs.
All in all it was OK as a day out, but not a patch on former years."
So GW Live - not cheerful and not even cheap get this weeks Order of the Cowpat or in this case a load of old horse manure!
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