INVERCLYDE'S top two gardening events have been axed by the council in a desperate bid to save cash.

In a double blow both the flagship annual Gardenfest and ever-popular Port Glasgow Bulb Show have both been scrapped because of budget cuts.

It follows the Tele recently revealing how this year's Gourock Garden Party will be run on a 'scaled back' basis.

The council has to make £7 million worth of savings over the next two years to plug a funding gap and annual community events have proved some of the biggest casualties.

The long-standing Gardenfest competition, which was one of the best in the country, attracted big name judges like the Beechgrove Garden's Walter Gilmour.

He today joined Tele garden guru George Irvine in expressing his shock and disappointment at the loss of both events.

Local horticultural expert George said: "I think the likes of Gardenfest makes Inverclyde a better place to stay.

"People take such pride in their gardens and it was popular with gardeners and residents as well.

"We attracted respected judges like Walter and encouraged young people to get involved.

"Gardening gets people out of the house, in the fresh air and helps keep people fit.

"It is a shame that we are losing something like this.

"They are always talking about promoting the likes of growing your own food, cutting down on waste - this defeats these ends.

"It is so disappointing and I think people will miss it."

Gardenfest is a long-standing competition which has run for a number of years under different titles.

Beechgrove hit squad member Walter was for many years a judge, joining former Tele editor Ken Thomson and the late Eric Gallagher of Cardwell Garden Centre.

Walter, who was involved in the hugely-successful Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988, said he loved his visits to Inverclyde.

Walter, 84, said: "It is such a shame what has happened to Gardenfest.

"That is the way of things now.

"It was such a wonderful competition to be a part of - people could grow plants in Inverclyde that you wouldn't see anywhere else in the country.

"It really put Inverclyde on the map and it was good for morale.

"Gardening is a great way to get people involved in their community."

The Port Bulb Show earlier this year was hailed as the best yet, with a record number of high quality entries.

But now the council say they can no longer be support it.

A spokesman said: "At the council’s budget setting in March a range of savings were taken.

"One included a reduction in support for events.

"The council will now no longer directly support these financially or through the logistical support previously provided.

"If anyone in the community or the partners we have worked successfully with over many years are considering continuing with these events, such as the garden competition, and are seeking funding from other sources, we have offered to provide any information or guidance we can to support their funding bids."