‘Gardening became more fashionable and accessible’

PLANT POWER The annual garden show at Stansted Park, near Havant, always draws the crowds
PLANT POWER The annual garden show at Stansted Park, near Havant, always draws the crowds

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NINETEEN years ago Jane Sterck and I were asked to set up a garden show at Stansted Park.

Gardening was becoming more fashionable and accessible as people realised that you didn’t have to be that knowledgeable to make your garden look great and there was a thirst for good design, plants and garden products.

We were confident that it would be a good opportunity for local gardeners, designers and artists to exhibit; particularly those who couldn’t afford the larger, more commercial shows. There was a gap in the market that we were sure we could fill – and fortunately we were proved right.

At Stansted we now have about 300 exhibitors with a gate of approximately 16,000 and have extended our remit to highlight important issues such as the organic movement, environmental awareness and fair trade. We have very popular plant doctors solving gardening conundrums.

Every year we have continued to support about 20 charities by giving them either free or subsidised exhibition space. We feel that we are making a difference and are really pleased that thousands of pounds have been raised for fabulous causes.

We have survived and Jane’s two daughters, Emily and Lucy, are now an integral and important part of the team.

In fact we all feel that the show’s success has been very much to do with the support of our long-suffering family and friends who are happy to take the weekend off and morph into staff.

Visitors tell us that they particularly enjoy this friendly atmosphere.

The show takes place from Friday to Sunday and gates open daily from 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm).