Planners unsure of Ellerslie numbers

Last updated 15:11 11/03/2013

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It will be months before it will be known if the 2013 Ellerslie flower show has made a profit, planners say.

Show managing director Dave Mee said final gate figures for the festival would not be known until the end of this week when all unsold tickets had been collected from outlets.

"I'm not trying to be vague, I just don't want to set an expectation that could be out by a couple of thousand," he told The Press.

It would be another two to three months before it was known whether the festival had broken even.

Ticket sales might had fallen since the inaugural Christchurch festival in 2009, but sponsorship was up, he said.

However, a strong weekend turnout may still not have arrested declining attendance numbers at the show.

Organisers were hoping to match the numbers at last year's weather-affected event.

The annual five-day event at Hagley Park finished yesterday with the traditional plant sale and the announcement of young florist competition winners.

Mee said yesterday gates for both weekend days were "solid", and although final numbers were unknown, they were unlikely to surpass 2012 attendance.

About 45,000 people attended last year's weather-affected event, after the 2011 show was cancelled following the February 22 earthquake.

The 2010 show attracted 55,000 people, while 75,000 attended the inaugural event in 2009.

Mee was unsure if this year's crowds would match last year's turnout.

"I'd love to think we did, but it will be a close call," he said.

The show's "vibe" had been been "fantastic".

"My view is we've had five pretty decent days. Good solid numbers and just a good, relaxed atmosphere."

The quality of the emerging designs had improved and the other exhibits were at a "really decent level".

"We're pleased overall," he said.

New feature Edible Ellerslie, which promoted practical gardening and the cooking of home-grown herbs and vegetables, proved great crowd pleaser, Mee said.

"People have loved watching our celebrity chefs transform fresh garden produce into delectable dishes and have gone home filled with fresh ideas to try out in the kitchen."

British garden designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin, who was this year's convenor of judges, said the exhibitors, particularly the student and first-time designers, had "followed their hearts" and shown "great passion and commitment".

"They have come with no preconception of what a garden should be. This is really encouraging and points to a great future for horticulture and design," he said.

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Gardening guru-turned MP Maggie Barry was impressed by what she had seen and said there were plenty of ideas that people could take home and be inspired by.

"Recycling was big and emerging designers have done a wonderful job creating clever ideas with a quirky edge. I loved the combination of plants and artwork too."

Ashburton florist Nicole Hazlehurst was yesterday named named overall winner of the Young Apprentice of the Year competition.

Each of the 12 florists made 14 floral designs during the event, plus each designed a floral shop and a letterbox with the theme "Whatever the weather".

Many of the show's plants and flowers displayed will continue to add colour to the city.

The floral art will make its way to rest homes and charity organisations, while community garden projects like Greening the Rubble will recycle hundreds of the plants used.

- The Press

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