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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 11:26 GMT
Britons love garden centres, but hate weeding
BBC1's Ground Force team
The "Dimmock factor" is now a trade term
The popularity of TV garden shows has encouraged Britons to spend 3.35bn on gardening last year, according to a new survey.

The recent boom has been fuelled by popular TV shows, such as BBC1's Ground Force, starring Charlie Dimmock and Alan Titchmarsh, which attract millions of viewers.

But this new younger gardening audience do not like getting their hands dirty - one in four people have become "passive gardeners", who prefer to lounge around on decking or barbecuing rather than digging and weeding their flower beds and cultivating prize Dahlias.

Of the 2,027 people interviewed by Mintel, 45% enjoyed garden centres, almost double the 23% who loved gardening - and 29% of all adults interviewed "get or use ideas from TV gardening programmes".

Passive gardeners

Most passive gardeners live in Scotland, the South-west and Wales, according to the survey.

Almost four in 10 people with gardens in Scotland are passive gardeners, compared to 20% in London and the South-east.

"Passive gardeners are most likely to be in their late 30s or 40s and some of them are looking forward to the day when they have more time to become expert gardeners.

But with busy careers and children they still see gardening as a "chore", rather than as a "source of enjoyment".

Another category in this group is the "investor gardener", whose main interest is shoring up the value of the property they are in the process of selling.

They are less likely to grow plants from seeds or grow vegetables, but purchase fully grown plants, accessories and furniture in order to achieve quick results in their gardens.

Spending grows

As gardening has become more trendy and has reached a younger audience, spending has rocketed, increasing from 2.75bn in 1996 to 3.35bn in 2000.

"Horticultural goods" such as composts, particular gardening equipment and seeds grew by 16% over the past four years.

But the biggest increases were on other garden products, such as furniture, conservatories and decking.

People were spending 535m more - a 43% increase - on garden ponds, fountains, decking and lighting since 1997.

The report said: "While some sectors of the gardening market have done well in the UK's ongoing consumer boom, the trend is towards designing and equipping in the garden to maximise leisure time and socialising in it, rather than engaging in digging and propagating gardening. "

See also:

17 Sep 00 | Health
Gardening 'bad for backs'
18 Oct 01 | England
Homeowner builds high-rise shed
24 May 00 | UK
Dig the new gardening
31 Oct 01 | Business
UK shoppers hit by nerves
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