Malvern Show Gardens


I’m no longer much of a fan of showgardens and tend to gravitate to the nurseries and floral marquee more.  However, I thought I would have a quick look to see what was on offer this year.  Malvern has always been one of the shows where new designers can stretch their wings and have a go at doing a show garden.

In my humble and inexpert view the gardens have a tendency to be fairly safe and what you would expect but then Malvern, in my opinion, is a show for plant buyers and has an excellent reputation for the number and variety of nurseries at the show and therefore it doesn’t really need to try to attract crowds with the promise of weird and wacky designs – that is the remit of Hampton Court Flower Show.

I only had time for a quick run round, plus the press and television crews were in the way, and so this post is very  much based on a fleeting glimpse


The two photographs above are of the garden that really quite my eye and made me stop in my tracks and I believe it received a Gold award.  It is designed by Villaggio Verde a fairly local company that specialises in olive trees and other mediterranean plants.  The garden is part of a set of gardens all celebrating the Tour de France and represents a cafe in the South of France where professional cyclists have stopped for 100 years.  I liked the non-fussy planting especially around the beehives and it felt to me a fair and realistic representation where the designer hadn’t got too carried out.

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Another planting that appealed to me was in the garden called, A Return to the Med designed by The Garden Design House.  I liked the textures of the planting and also the detail in the pebble pathing.  I would like to replicate this pebble pathing on my patio although I suspect it would take me ages to do and may just send me mad so this will be an idea I file away again for yet another year.

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The two photographs above show the planting in a garden entitled, Single Track Mind, designed by Teresa Rham of Groundesigns;  another garden in the Tour de France group.  The intention of the garden is to represent the mental challenges faced by the road racing cyclist.  I have to confess that I never really get the deeper meanings of these show gardens but again I was attracted to the planting.  The mixtures of textures and shades of green in the photograph above and the darker shades, again in flowers and foliage, in the top photograph.  Of course we have to remember that the plants are planted far closer together than any of us would in our gardens and this is typical for showgardens where there is a pathological fear of earth showing; honestly, they can get marked down on it!


Finally, this garden appealed to me – A Room for a View designed by Alchemy Gardens.  I suspect that I am attracted to both this garden and the very top one as they are completely different to mine.  Something that I could never have in my own garden and so far more interesting to me than the cottage/woodland style gardens.  I also suspect that there is an element of escapism in them, taking us to somewhere warm, and in the case of the Alchemy Garden, tropical which couldn’t be much further removed from the cold, damp and windy show ground yesterday.

Whilst these gardens are not as unattainable for the average gardener as the showgardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show they are still something that few of us would replicate in our gardens.  However, the pundits always like to say that the average gardener can get inspiration from showgardens so what  inspiration did I get from these?  As I have said I like the pebble pathing in the Return to the Med garden and the understated green textures of the Single Track Mind garden is food for thought when planting a border where you want interest besides relying on flowers.  The Cafe garden demonstrates the impact planting en masse can have and as for the last garden again the good foliage combinations are shown but really for me I just want to paddle my feet in the pool, who needs inspiration!!

8 Comments on “Malvern Show Gardens

  1. I think inspiration can be found in the smallest details and I also like the pebble mosaic very much (something I always want to do in my own garden. By way of planting, none really caught my eye but that’s probably got to do with getting older and wiser as a gardener, thus having specific ideas or knowing what works and what doesn’t…show gardens sometimes flabbergast me when it comes to planting combinations. Thanks for the ramble through Malvern 🙂

  2. If I ever Lotto on y wish – list is to meander around the back roads of Britain and explore the many gardens. Driving on the left is so much easier also and not dead flat!

  3. I caught a small part of the show on GW last night, which I don’t usually see, but I prefer your down to earth commentary! As Annette says, it is good to pick up ideas from elements of other gardens and develop the germs of our own ideas that will sit well in own gardens. Well done for your winning entry by the way, Helen – it was so exciting to read your last post!

  4. I could quite happily sit and sup a glass of wine or two in that French cafe Helen. Monty passed favourable comments on it on GW last night. I’ve never found it easy to get a good look at the show gardens at any show that I’ve visited so that’s another reason why I head straight to the marquee. Thanks for the glimpse.

  5. I’ve never been to Malvern but I’d take inspiration from the planting combinations and layouts. The French garden works very well and I like the textures in the green garden that you’ve photographed. Always nice to see something different and figure out why it appeals!

  6. I think show gardens are meant to inspire, there is usually something that we can take from them to adapt for our own gardens. Monty looked very much at home in the french Cafe Garden because he likes holidays in France, but his own garden is so different. The nurseries have such sumptuous plants, now they inspire me!!

  7. I liked your ‘commentary’ on Malvern – when I watch these shows on TV, I can never quite imagine myself being there but your little snap shots have hit home. So thank you.
    I’ve admired pebble paths for such a long time. Paying someone would never be within my budget and I’d not have the nerve to give it a go – I’d be terribly disappointed if it didn’t work out.
    I like the combinations of the greens in your 2nd last picture – the Alchemila and Lamium together is quite fetching. Mmmmmm – I wonder 😉

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