RHS Malvern Spring Festival May 2014

The Malvern show held at the Three Counties Show ground in Malvern, Worcestershire is a couple of hours drive from home, after the long motorway drive I spilled out onto glorious countryside, the sun shone, although the forecast was ghastly and my hopes were up for a my first ever visit.

Bringing Nature Home

‘Bringing Nature Home’ Gold and Best in Show

Parking was easy, entry good and then where to first. I am not sure if it was a me, but the layout was chaotic and the complete lack of any recognisable or understandable signage meant the first two hours were spent getting my bearings. I heard a man on a loud speaker telling us where to find the show gardens, I still did not find them all and there were only 9. The garden which had won best in show was a lovely concept, one half formal with elegant planting divided by simple wooden screens and the other half wild, the photo above shows the wilder half and the photo below the formal half. I liked it, especially the use of Luzula nivea grass in the formal part, I love this little grass and if pushed to choose this one is my favourite ever grass.

Bringing Nature Home Gold - Best in show

‘Bringing Nature Home’
Gold – Best in show

There wasn’t a route as such more a higgedly layout, so no sense of what to look at next, but a look at me garden was the ‘En su Casa en la Playa’ (At home on the Beach).

En su Casa en la Playa (At Home on the Beach) Gold

‘En su Casa en la Playa’ (At Home on the Beach) Gold

Depicting a setting on a beach in the Balearic islands of a family home, complete with a little Paella shop. I am guessing this would be even more lovely had it been a warm late spring day, instead of the 22 mile an hour winds and the decreasing temperature drop, even so, this is a place I would like to visit. I could imagine a moment sitting on the loungers and a good book for company.

Nearby was a lady on her own, with another garden, which at first I was not sure if it was a show garden, such was the higgledy layout. Not my choice but I appreciated the work that went into its concept and creation. Apparently it symbolised the path led after death entitled “Oooh…it makes me wonder”.

Ooh...I wonder whats comes next - Silver

‘Oooh…it makes me wonder’ – Silver

Shears and Chardonnay another garden, with bits I would like such as the wonderful back habitat wall built of logs and complete with a living roof along the top of the wall.

Shears and Chardonnay - Silver Gilt

Shears and Chardonnay – Silver Gilt

And the last two I found, one not for me, was ‘Blush’ the blurb describes the colour scheme as soothing and the garden somewhere to relax, this garden also came with a long strip of Fuchsia pink gravel.

Blush - Silver Gilt

Blush – Silver Gilt

And lastly although I did not spot any fruit in this garden, despite its title, I would quite like a little sunken seating area and outside oven at home, I may then once in a while sit down.

'A Fruity Story' Silver Gilt

‘A Fruity Story’ Silver Gilt

The show has lots of stalls outside selling plants and sundries, I failed to find anything on my list, mostly Penstemons and Irises, and headed off to the marquees, with no clue as to what was inside any of them.

In one I found the very best stall Avon bulbs, lots of people crowded around, I think business was good!

Avon Bulbs Gold winning stand

Avon Bulbs Gold winning stand

In another I found the The East of Eden Geum Nursery and very nearly made an impulse purchase and thought long and hard, deliberated and dithered about where this Geum could go. And then asked could I buy one, nope the early bird gets the worm and it was sold out.

Geum 'East of Eden' From East of Eden Nursery

Geum ‘East of Eden’ introduced in 2013
From East of Eden Nursery

The Alpine Society were at Malvern and after a couple of hours wandering I finally found them in a massive farm building. Hurrah! Actually not that far from where I had started. Its was so chilly and windy at Malvern that wooly hats were being worn.

Another Alpine society show bench

One of the Alpine society show benches

One of the Alpine society show benches

Alpine society show benches

Pleione vesuvius 'tawny owl'

Pleione vesuvius ‘tawny owl’

Cypripedium gisela

Cypripedium gisela

Isn’t this a wonderful world, and isn’t mother nature brilliant to bring us such amazing plants, I can’t look at the Cypripedium gisela without thinking of the Queen of Hearts from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.

With the decreasing temperatures and blackening skies, I decided to head home after one last purchase a 5 metre long natural slug and snail barrier seed tape from Simple Sowing and a lovely chat with a very nice man from the Rare Breeds group.

I would go again, but with a compass and a long piece of string.

Visiting the RHS London Alpine Garden Show

We visited the RHS London Alpine Show last Sunday, its a busy time of year for me and a whole day out in London was an extravagance of time but I am so very glad we went. A whole new world was opened up. The show was not like the two other RHS London shows I have visited this year. Occupying one hall at first it seemed small but less is more and what was on offer was both interesting and stimulating. Ranging from the weird to the wonderful there were lots of plants and displays.

Saxifraga pubescens snowcap Alan and Janet Cook 1st

Saxifraga pubescens snowcap Alan and Janet Cook 1st

Asarum maximum

The unusual Asarum maximum

The four talks were aimed at folk who really know their plants and for Alpine novices like me, there were lots of helpful people to answer questions. There was no frenzied furore but a more relaxed atmosphere.

Four Nurseries were exhibiting. Evolution plants who had a wide range of exciting plants I was not familiar with including their labelled Paeonia ‘Bai He Wo Xue’ I have spent much time since trying to research this and now wished I had asked more, however, here she is.

Paeonia 'Bai He Wo Xue' Evolution Plants

Paeonia ‘Bai He Wo Xue’
Evolution Plants

Zanthoxylum Evolution Plants

Evolution Plants

Keith Wiley from Wildside Nursery in Devon was exhibiting, the show opened from 11, we arrived at 12ish and he had already sold a lot of stock, Steven Lacey wrote an article in the Telegraph a few years ago about Keith’s Devon garden and nursery “Wiley concocted naturalistic planting schemes of a breadth, richness and complexity that took even seasoned garden visitors by surprise.” Jacques Amand were there too but with a much broader range of plants than I had seen from them before and a lovely stand by Trewidden Nursery from Cornwall.

Erica cerinthoides Trewidden Nursery

Erica cerinthoides
Trewidden Nursery

There were several exhibitors long benches and it was incredibly relaxing to wander along each show bench slowly studying the plants and certificates, my husband (not a gardener) switched from very busy demanding job mode to this is lovely and so relaxing mode.

One of the Alpine Exhibitors Benches

One of the Alpine Exhibitors Benches

Cypripedium fargesii a 1st for Colin and Elaine Barr

Cypripedium fargesii Colin and Elaine Barr 1st

Helen and her blog thepatientgardener is very involved with the Alpine Society and she helped at the London Alpine show, her blog gives an excellent overview of the whole event. Like Helen I was also smitten by the plant and presentation of an Androsace vandellii.

Androsace vandellii

Androsace vandellii

Helen has encouraged me to join the alpinegardensociety and it turns out I have a local group only a few miles from me, where I hope to learn much more. The website gives details of forthcoming events and local groups.

This is the first RHS London Alpine show, I hope they host more, on the day the RHS linked up with the Garden Museum a 20 minute walk away, offering a combined ticket to the Garden Museum Spring fair. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to this little museum, a great chilled atmosphere and an oasis of a garden, plus a really nice cafe!