Report on Spring Garden Show Malvern 2012

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Driving towards Malvern on the first day of the 2012 Spring Show, the low dark clouds obscured the lovely hills and the natural beauty of the area.

Despite the weather, I was excited to come to this wonderful county and walk around the first RHS garden show of the year, which takes place in the Three Counties Showground nestling in the valley below the Malvern Hills. Being a purpose made showground makes this event easier to navigate around and more substance.

In some senses it mirrors a show like Tatton or Hampton Court but on other levels it is a strange mixture of agricultural buildings housing local crafts and food from the farmers market.

There are all the usual trade stands selling anything from wellies to turtle mats! The obligatory plastic boxes on wheels were being pulled around filled to the brim with plants and odd purchases- some  needed a  health warning for fear of taking someone’s eyes out with a giant metal stake! There was also all the usual burger vans and food courts but somehow in this wonderful setting and with a very gentle feel to the show, it didn’t seem to matter.

A short briefing from Bob Sweet RHS Shows Development Manager in the Press Office, highlighted this years Medal winners and notably the high calibre of gardens created by many local schools. In fact the level of school garden was so high that next year they will need to separate the age ranges for medal qualifications into primary and secondary schools.

There were only  being 8 show gardens. Graduate Gardens won the only Gold Medal as they seem to do every year! There was also one Silver Gilt , three Silver, two Bronze  with one garden not getting any award. From the 14 amazing school gardens, the best School Garden Award went to Burlish Park Primary School in Stourport-on-Seven. Despite the ‘drought’ we have had the wettest Spring and all the show gardens have had to battle heavy downpours to create their displays.

The floral Marquee which covers 7,000 square metres was filled with over 100 wonderful displays which are also judged by the RHS, fantastic specialist stands with only heucheras or hostas  as well as herbs and lavender most grown on the nurseries own premises.

A new concept for the Show is the Plants and People Theatre which has a central living landscape and features talks with Q&A sessions from some of the UK’s top gardening experts, including Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Jecka McVicar.

Another new addition is the painting with Plants Gallery with displays features planting representing a favorite piece of artwork, photograph or landscape. The winning designs will receive £1,000 for their nominated horticultural charity.

The Eco Art and Garden Marquee featured demonstrations and exhibits with a gardening theme. The Botanical Art Exhibition was back at the show with some beautiful drawings and paintings.

Landscaping Live is always a popular draw as people see a garden being built in front of them and are able to pick up tips and get advice. The allotment Theatre had talks on all aspects of allotment gardening and there were Educational School activities with a range of workshops in the Discovery Zone.

Chris Beardshaw who was discovered at Malvern showcased the Urban Oasis garden for Groundwork sponsored by marks and Spencer. This garden highlights the food growing in the city and how to get more people involved in gardening in inner cities with communities to improve neighbourhoods.

The Spring Show is also a wonderful place to find real handmade crafts made by top local craftworks. The Wye Hall houses Specialist plant nurseries and local food producers as well as wood turning, hazel hurdles, pottery and iron work amongst other crafts from the Three Counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestshire.

There is so much to see and do that a few hours is never enough and I always leave the show wishing I had more time and a bigger boot to carry all the plants I can’t resist from specialist nurseries.