Gardening is a growth market

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chelsea file photo afp AFP A gardener puts the finishing touches to the Birmingham Library garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. This month's Chelsea Flower Show was dominated by young designers - and homeowners are also getting in on the act.

London - Forget nightclubs and pubs – today’s 20-somethings like nothing better than pottering in the garden.

Far from being the preserve of pensioners, gardening is rapidly being taken up by a new generation, a survey suggests.

This month’s Chelsea Flower Show was dominated by young designers – and homeowners are also getting in on the act.

The survey by Lloyds Bank Insurance revealed that 25 to 34-year-olds spent an average of £747 (about R13 500) on their outdoor spaces in the past year, more than double the average of £366.

The survey also found 19 percent of young homeowners now have a greenhouse and 29 percent have invested in new plants for their gardens in the past year.

Frances Tophill, presenter of ITV’s Love Your Garden, said: “Recently we’ve witnessed a real throwback to ‘homeliness’, with gardening, baking and cookery coming back into popular culture.

“It’s interesting that this trend is growing against the rise of technology and in a post-recession climate.”

Hugo Bugg, 27, won rave reviews at Chelsea last week for his Waterscape Garden, which scooped a gold medal.

His achievement was all the more remarkable because it was his first time at Chelsea – after taking up gardening just six years ago.

He said: “My parents are keen gardeners, so I got into gardens growing up. We had three acres of wilderness so there was plenty to play with.

“I love working with plants. I love the design of outdoor spaces and landscapes, playing with new materials.

“It’s been such a buzz to have my first time here at Chelsea, although I was obviously a bit nervous.”

Other newcomers were friends Tom Prince and Alex Frazier, both aged 28, who won a gold medal and best in show for the small gardens category.

Also getting plenty of attention were Harry Rich, 26 and his brother David, 23 – the youngest gardener to have ever been given a show garden at Chelsea. Their garden, The Night Sky, was awarded a silver gilt medal.

Veteran designer Cleve West, who was awarded his fifth Chelsea gold medal with his M&G garden, welcomed the influx of young blood.

He said: “It really is amazing to see such talented young designers here. I wasn’t even interested in gardening when I was their age.

“So to see them come here and do so well is just incredible.

“There are nice guys as well, really nice neighbours to have.”

But not all experts have been so welcoming to the young designers.

Gardening columnist Bunny Guinness, writing for The Daily Telegraph, said: “Garden design and horticulture are skills that are vastly improved with experience above all else, and I think this is shown in some of this year’s Chelsea show garden crop.

“[There are] too many ‘arrangements’ rather than designs, where many different elements and ideas have been thrown in and then glued together with a mass of planting.” - Daily Mail

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