Saturday, 24 September 2011

Autumn at Malvern

Early morning in one corner if the Showground
It doesn't matter how often I return to gardening shows at Malvern, there is always something new to delight and inspire me. And this latest RHS Autumn Show is no exception. Situated in the lee of the beautiful Malvern Hills, every RHS show here provides a grand day out for the keen and dedicated gardener.

'Peas and Tranquility' designed by Stephanie Mucklow
A quick dash through the show guide, making notes, and then I move from location to location, assimilating ideas; amazed at the ingenuity of so many garden designers and exhibitors. This Autumn,  the organisers (TCAS - Three Counties Agricultural Society) again provided "a splendid mix for food and gardening lovers, and a window on the countryside". Two new areas were The Good Life Pavilion, which concentrated on 'the edible garden' and the 'kitchen garden stage' with a programme of cookery demonstrations using fresh produce, and The Orchard Pavilion, celebrating the importance of fruit growing - apples and pears which our British climate particularly favours.

'Somerset's Pride designed by Mark Walker
Show-garden designers are adept at cramming so many ingenious ideas into a very small space. Sometimes the concept is clever but the message not immediately apparent - personally, I prefer to learn from what I see knowing that I could adapt an idea within our own garden space. So I loved the little banked corner of Mark Walker's 'Somerset Pride' (best-in-show garden) depicting a rural farmyard plot, complete with rustic artefacts - and prominent edible dandelion growing alongside vegetable and arable crops. What first caught my attention was the clever use of old tyres as planters, cunningly sunk into the bank so they did not dominate. Mark specialises in 'garden retreats' and will be creating another garden in support of Macmillan Cancer Care at next year's Malvern Spring Show.

Skilful use of plants
and obelisk
Herb gardens somehow convey a sense of well-being and calm but can look flat and uninviting to the uninitiated. So the Cottage Herbery's use of a metal obelisk up which were trained runner beans was a touch of mastery. 'The Old Kiln Yard' - a corner of a much larger hop yard - was a joint effort, with Paul Taylor of Alchemy Gardens creating the landscaping and old building, and Kim & Rob Hurst providing the plants and planting, following their philosophy of recycle, re-use and re-invent.




Discover the beautiful orchards of Herefordshire
And then it was time for me to explore The Orchard Pavilion and the celebration of 'The Herefordshire Year of the Orchard'. Now I can't wait for next Spring to further investigate the orchards around Ledbury - whether in blossom or fruit, or during the summer in between. Ledbury Cycle Hire loan bikes whilst detailed directions along quiet lanes can be downloaded from 'Herefordshire Cider Route'. Planting fruit trees and saving orchards - or creating community gardens - is currently topical as open spaces disappear and gardens become smaller. I was fascinated by a talk I have just attended in the pavilion on 'The archaeology and historic landscape value of traditional orchards' given by archeologist, Neil Rimmington of Herefordshire County Council. Too much to report within this post, but hopefully I will find space to talk about the significance of fruit trees and orchards shortly.

3 comments:

  1. What a fascinating event it sounds. Lovely report - inspiring!

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  2. We were there on Saturday too. Love the show, but living in London, we never get there in time for a full day. This year we managed nearly 7 hours and still missed out on some things. Mind you, the vintage machines and cars are the same most years, so that's no disaster.

    Never mind, RHS Westminster Tuesday week, then Peterborough on the Sunday for the agriculture and food fair side of things. And the rabbit show. Howard loves the Belgian Hares, but knows they're not an option right now. Discovered that my father used to breed and exhibit rabbits as a child. I had no idea, and have no recollection of him showing any interest in them.


    Was very good and only bought one decorative plant for myself, plus three grasses for Howard. How I can deliniate these purchases when the plants are going in the same bed defies logic.

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  3. How I wish I had known you were there - though I was dashing around a bit so as to be able to post (though come to think of it, I sat in the Press Room working for most of the afternoon). Succumbed to purchasing plants today - in the rain, a tray of sempervariums for pots in odd corners, and a couple of rather lovely books.

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