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Hi. My wife and I love gardening and, until a few years ago, enjoyed visiting shows such as Chelsea and Malvern. Sadly the admission prices have now become so expensive we can no longer afford to go. I see the price for this spring Malvern show is a staggering £31 pounds each. How many shrubs and plants can i buy for this. Maybe I am being cynical but has the amount the `celebrities` charge for visiting these shows anything to do with the high prices. OK I know it costs a lot to organise these shows but the rents for the stalls, exhibition space etc must bring in a tidy sum. So, given the price of petrol, a possible overnight stay and the admission fee, my wife and I( both pensioners, the biggest followers of gardening) will sadly again be watching snippets on our TV at home.


This is really sad for you Roger and you're not the only one who cannot afford the rising costs although I don't think Gardening shows are the only victim. Think of the upside, at least you will be cosy and snug at home with a cuppa and no crowds when watching the BBC's brilliant coverage of Chelsea etc (with Alan's witty banter thrown in for good company) and treat yourself to a few featured plants at your local garden centre whilst staying well within your budget  And there are always the NGS gardens to visit for a fraction of the price and just as good in display. There's a website devoted to it

I'd love to see some of these this year but sadly I have no transport and the nearest one is more than five miles away.

Anyway, hope that helps you feel better 


My friend and I just visit one show each year - Hampton Court.  We get there before the gates open and stay until the show closes at night.  Determined to get my money's worth!  I would love to go to some of the others too but, as you say, they are a bit expensive.


Alpine Garden Society Shows and Scottish Rock Garden shows are about £2.50 to get in for non-members.

Certainly the big shows are out of my pocket range.

Mind so are the prices being charged for plants at Garden Centres these days. We no longer buy plants at them,so who make up their customer bases?

Paul N


Think yourself lucky you aren't a football, Formula 1 or MotoGP fan. Their entrance prices are attrocious. I don't like crowds so will almost certainly only go to Hampton Court this year. Other than that we are still National Trust members so Sissinghurst Castle is close to home. And we have the Yellow Book too.


Gary Hobson

What baffles me is that some people visit shows simply to buy tiny items, that they could very easily buy locally, or by mail order. I remember one TV show where Carol Klein was enthousing because she'd bought a packet of plant labels for £1. Perhaps TV presenters get free tickets. But is £31 for a packet of labels really a great bargain, for anyone?

At one time I used to go to these shows because I could find plants which were not available at my local garden centre. But these days I can find a much greater variety of the plants that I'm interested in using the Internet.

I used to visit bookshops frequently. But I haven't been inside one for years now, thanks to Amazon.

I bought a new strimmer a couple of days ago. I used the Internet to find the best price. It was a tools supplier. They had an arrangement with Amazon, so I could pay without even quoting my credit card number. The product was delivered the following morning. The Internet, and superb customer service, have spoilt some of us.

In my view, garden shows are a social event. It's a day out. It's like taking a mini-break for the day. But it's not an occasion for serious plant buying.


I agree, the prices are astronmical, especially when you factor in the cost of getting there and (unless you take your own picnic) the cost of food and drink.  Last weekend my friend and I went to the Newark Garden show....£5 to get in, only 40 odd miles away....rather than go to Harrogate (£16 entrance fee and a lot further than Newark).  We bought some great plants for a fraction of the cost they'd be at Harrogate so we didn't mind getting drenched in the downpours (which I believe they had at Harrogate too).
I'd dearly love to to go to Chelsea but even being an RHS member and getting a discount, it's still way out of my price range


I've been to hampton Court twice and loved it, but even as an RHS member, it ain't cheap!  Especially if you factor in the cost of petrol, food, drink etc.  And thats all before the plants have taken your fancy and you find yourself handing over more money.  I would never go to Chelsea, purely because of the crowds.  My idea of hell!  Also, the coverage is so good and plentiful on the Beeb, that I'd never get to see so much in person.  I went to the Losley show on Friday.  Very small (no show gardens), but only £3.00 entrance, and very enjoyable.  I intend to do some Yellow Book visits this year, and make more use of my RHS & National Trust membership, which means I get free entry.  If this bloomin weather improves!


Paul N

As Gary said, we treat Hampton Court as a day out, a special treat, so the cost is not so critical. Also we're also pensioners and in all honesty, when my work pension is added to my state pension, I'm not doing badly at all. Certainly more spending money than I had a few years ago and far, far more than when we had small children. We visited the Floriade in the Netherlands a few weeks ago, a terrific disappointment, and not anything like Hampton Court or even our own Kent Garden Show. Bittery cold, the show gardens were almost bare and deserted, and there were very few flowers  to see.

I went to Chelsea. Once! Was lucky enough to get freebie tickets for preview day ( had to pretend I was a TV person) but in all honesty I found it more of an endurance test than a pleasure. My sister really likes Hampton Court, but I really don't have that much interest in these huge commercial events. The Yellow Book and some favourite fairly local gardens are much more to my taste.

May issue of GW mag has 2 for 1 booklet.  About 272 gardens over Britain.


Ooh, thanks for that heads up Amazing.  I'm expecting my copy through the door any day!



I really like Chelsea and it's good value compared to concerts and football matches cos you can stay 12 hours and go back to see favouriet exhibits more than once and at difefrent times of day with different light.  It's busy but good natured and actually not that busy till about 11:30.  I stay with friends so just have to pay for fuel on top.

I've also been to Hampton Court and hated the long long walk to the car park and the crowds.  I've been to Tatton which I really enjoyed but it's a long way from Belgium so that's hotel costs on top and loads of fuel and, while it's fun buying plants, they're not cheap.  The gardens are not as good as at Chelsea but I like the back-to-back section and it was great to see old boarding friends and meet Trillium and see  her garden.

I've also done Malvern which is pretty disappointing for display gardens but great for plant buying and I have rellies I can call on if needs be.

The RHS also does monthly shows in London which are free to members and members get free entry to the big RHS gardens as well as quite a list of associated gardens all over the UK and some abroad.  That plus a good magazine each month makes it exceptionally good value for the annual subscription..


So agree re Malvern, my friend and I were planning to go, but £60 plus for tickets,  then petrol to drive there (no public transport available, and even were we able to find any, it would cost another small fortune)   -  that put it way out of our reach.  I suppose they don't want ordinary gardeners like us there, only the rich and famous. 

Paul N

When we've been to Hampton Court, we park our car in the grounds of a nearby school so the parking charge goes to school funds. A short walk to a motorboat and a pleasurable ride across the Thames to the entrance. Brilliant! Also the Daily Mail always seem to do vouchers or reduced rate tickets during the previous week. We take a packed lunch so that other than a beer at midday, it's a good day. And the crowds are far lighter than at Chelsea, or so I've found.


I was at the Foriade over the weekend and found the entrance although expensive, 30.00 euro pp, I did find it good value for money.  For me it is the 10.00 euro car parking annoying.  If anyone is planning to visit the Floriade come later in the year, the gardens are a little light on colour at the moment.


I am being treated this year to the bbc gw show, a Gift from my son..... But that's the only way I would be able to go. Went to Malvern show in sept a few years ago. It was a coach trip and even then it was £35. pp. I was disappointed at the amount of stalls that really should have been in a country fair.

I hope to buy some plants from b'ham, to see them in the green and ensure they'll cope with my altitude.

I open for the NGS twice a year, plus all the extra small party visits, so sadly I don't get time to visit other gardens...................... I'm too busy keeping on top of my backyard! And with OH's health, looks like I will be caring for his 3 acres as well as my own 2. 

Shrinking Violet

It is many years since I went either to Chelsea or Hampton Court - it's a long, long way from West Somerset.  It was pricey, but perhaps it is one of those items I can tick off of my list of things to do before the Grim Reaper appears!

But for the last couple of years OH and I have gone to Taunton Flower Show - a special deal from the West Somerset Railway, with a trip on the train and bus link to Taunton.  Makes a lovely day out, and quite reasonably priced given the combination of train and show (about £30 per person). 


I don't go to Hampton Court to buy plants (although I always end up buying some).  I like talking to the experts and getting free gardening advice.  I take photo's of things which I think I could do at home.  Last year we had a nice long chat with the mother of one of the creators of a show garden.  It was the end of the day when most of the crowds had left and she was so proud of her son's work.

thrifty mama

I agree with most people that the cost of admission to top flower shows are very expensive and some garden centres plant prices are very costly. When I visit any garden centre I always head for what  I call A& E , were plants have passed their best or been neglected and so are marked down in price. I find it a challenge to  try to resuscitate them , and Ive had quite a few successes.I do the same in supermarkets and DIY stores in their garden areas, some failures but most ive saved, I look at myself as the Florence Knightingale of  neglected plants. & shrubs.