A gardening event that can grow and grow

Garden Up, Botanical Gardens
Garden Up, Botanical Gardens

It started in torrential rain, but towards the end the public address system was warning of the need for sun protection.

Despite the dramatically mixed weather, organisers declared the first ‘Garden Up’ in the Botanical Gardens a success, in terms of the response of exhibitors and the public and financially.

Already a date has been pencilled in for next year, slightly later in June to avoid clashing with Royal Horticultural Society events and when more flowers will be looking their best.

“There are a lot of minor things we can improve on, but I think we have got it right,” said organiser Richard Nicolle, who has five years’ experience with the Hampton Court Flower Show.

The concept aims to develop the traditional garden show by involving artists, sculptors and market traders - “anything and everything associated with gardening and horticulture”.

Its arrival in the Botanical Gardens last Saturday coincided with a downpour that reduced the attendance to about 800, yet it was still “surprisingly” high for the conditions, said Mr Nicolle.

Some of the ground was still muddy on the Sunday, despite the sun, when there were about 4,000 visitors, exceeding expectations, and ensuring the event ended in profit.

“We are very pleased,” said Mr Nicolle. “Pretty much all the exhibitors are coming back next year and we have some who are coming now that have seen the show. The feedback is that people liked it. It was very much like a garden party, which is what we were aiming for. The general consensus was that the atmosphere was very nice.”

Some of the exhibitors came from across the country, but local attractions caught the eye, especially the show gardens produced by schools, and organisers are to encourage more entries next year.

“Love these ‘birds’ made from used plastic milk cartons by King Edward VII School,” tweeted one visitor. “Great garden designed by school pupils at Brunswick School - love the recycled greenhouse,” said another.

And another: “Enjoyed @GardenUpSheff. Sun at last, met old friends, bought plants, cake, new garden set. Hope the grass recovers!”

A sculptor trail designed by Lucy Coyne was also described as very successful.

“We’re now looking forward to coming back with bigger and better in 2015 and building on the great achievements of this weekend,” said Mr Nicole. The event was produced with council backing, but no council financial support. It was sponsored by Investec Wealth and Investment.

Click here to see slideshow: Thousands visit a major gardening show in Sheffield