The chilly wind of economic gloom that is ravaging
Britain’s High Streets has claimed its first gardening
victim of 2013.

Officials at the Royal Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, have killed off the National Gardening Show, which takes place in September.

The show’s big competitions – the UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, and the National Dahlia Society show, were plunged into crisis and forced to seek new homes.

Since 2009 the show has been organised by the Bath & West. From its launch in 1996, until 2008, the event was run in partnership with AG and was called the National Amateur Gardening Show.

In its heyday, during the Ground Force era, over 40,000 visitors came to see big names such as Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock.

Show manager Alan Lyons said: “The show has struggled for three years. We tried to keep its gardening content and actively sought sponsorship, but were not always successful. Wet, horrible weather didn’t help.

“We tried hard to cut costs, but it was a vicious circle. Visitor numbers were sliding. The show brought in 15-20,000 people over three days. 

“We are not alone: other shows are struggling. In the end, the losses became too great for an agricultural charity to take on the chin.”

Alan summed-up: “We are very grateful to our loyal trade exhibitors. But I don’t think we have an appetite to try an autumn show again. We do not have plans to resurrect it.”

Now, the National Giant Vegetables Championship will move to the Malvern Autumn Show at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire on 28-29 September. The show attracts around 60,000 visitors.

Giant veg organiser Ray Davey said: “It was a good show while AG was on board, but the last couple of years, organised by the Bath & West, have been very poor. A lot of the growers could see what was on the horizon.”

General secretary of the National Dahlia Society, June Nash, said its national dahlia show would go ahead. June said two new venues were currently being considered: one in the south of England, and another in the Midlands.