Malvern Spring Festivals – the Nurseries

Ian Butterfield Nursery
Ian Butterfield Nursery

Being a bit of a plant nut for me shows are all about the nurseries not the show gardens.  If I am honest I think the show gardens, especially at Chelsea, get far too much coverage and the nurseries get overlooked.  At the end of the day without the nurseries growing, and in some case breeding, plants there wouldn’t be much on offer for the designers to plant up their show gardens with!  Anyway, stepping off my soap box, I am devoting this post to some of the nurseries in the Plant Marquee at RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

Hardy's Nursery
Hardy’s Nursery

This year the Plant Marquee has been relocated to the other side of the showground having been in the same location for years.  I liked the layout of the new Marquee although there were 10 less nurseries exhibiting which was a little disappointing.  However, because today it has rained more or less all day the showground was getting very muddy and when you add a leaking gutter to this which resulted in a couple of nurseries having to work in very muddy conditions at the start of the day there were some grumbles.  Saying that I think the location of the plant marque was as good as previously with probably more passing trade.

Cotswold Garden Flowers
Cotswold Garden Flowers

Having visited the show for more years than I care to remember it is nice to see familiar nurseries and faces.  I was thrilled to discover Ian Butterfield had returned with his pleoines.  He thought last year was his last but there he was back again. He gave me an idiots guide to growing pleiones and a catalogue so I can order another one when I have killed the first one!

Sue Beesley's Bluebell Cottage Nursery
Sue Beesley’s Bluebell Cottage Nursery

In the past I have bought from both Hardy’s and Cotswold Garden Flowers but this year my interest has strayed away from the usual woodland plants I buy so having admired their stands I moved on.  I also liked Sue Beesley’s Bluebell Cottage Nursery display.  This was her first time at Malvern and she seemed to be doing well as whenever I went to say hello she had a gaggle of customers waiting to buy plants.

Fibrex Nurseries
Fibrex Nurseries

Having discussed ferns and pelargoniums many an evening on twitter with Fibrex Nurseries it was a foregone conclusion I would succumb to a few purchases from them: a Woodwardia unigemmata for the exotic border and a Pelargonium Sweet Mimosa which has deliciously scented leaves and is perfuming my greenhouse as I type.


I love the guys at Fernatix and their displays are key contributor to my fern obsession and they, many a nurseryman, are only too pleased to chat and give advice. So every year I buy at least one fern from them.  This year it is Onoclea sensiblis which I chose because the foliage is very different from the normal ferns.

Dibley Nurseries
Dibley Nurseries

Dibleys was on my list to visit as I wanted to buy some tender Begonias to adorn the patio and feed my new exotic foliage fascination.  I came away with Begonia Raspberry Swirl, Begonia Rocheart and Begonia L’Escargot which has made me very happy.

Trewidden Nursery
Trewidden Nursery

Last up is Trewidden Nursery from Cornwall.  I encountered them a couple of weekends ago at the London show and discovered they had an extensive range of succulents – another of my interests (maybe I have too many interests!).  Needless to say I came away with two new Aeoniums, both bred by the nursery, Aeonium sedifolium with dwarf leaves and Aeonium ‘Cornish Tribute’.  Hopefully one of them might earn me an award in the Open Garden competition next year if I enter.

This year I got a third which isn’t as good as last year but it’s still an award though I think trying to enter plants into the Open Garden competition at the same time as getting organised for staging the AGS Artistic Show may have been too much so I might not bother with the Open Garden next year.

Oh and I also bought a bit of garden art which for some reason seemed to make people laugh – I think it’s all a matter of taste and I love her.


Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

13 thoughts on “Malvern Spring Festivals – the Nurseries”

  1. Looks like some lovely nurseries there, and your purchases sound very interesting! It’s years since I’ve been to a garden show, maybe I should remedy that soon?

  2. The weather forecast is better tomorrow, hopefully some of the mud will dry up! Great to read more about the Nurseries exhibiting and I really like your fern choice, I have just googled it as it was new to me and it looks very soft and quite elegant.

  3. Interesting that you bought Onoclea sensibilis as we have loads growing in the Nuttery here at Sissinghurst. I like it and you’re right; it is different from other ferns. If you’re interested, I’ve written a blog about the Nuttery this week which contains a mention about Onoclea. Helen

  4. I recently recieved an order from Fibrex of about a dozen pelargoniums. Seriously impressed by how they were packed and shipped. Some are beginning to flower now including possibly my all time favourite Bird Dancer which I always loook out for in nurseries/garden centres but never see. Dave

  5. Thanks for the peek Helen. The plant marquee is what I look forward to the most when visiting a show and have never been disappointed. Congratulations on your third in the Open Garden competition. Like your new bird. Hope that Malvern did not get the same downpour as we did in the early hours of this morning otherwise I imagine it will be seriously muddy today.

  6. So sad we didn’t see each other yesterday. I couldn’t get a mobile connection and I spent most of the morning trying to find a memory card for my camera, so I expect you’d gone home by the time I was going around the show properly. I was amazed (and pleased) to see Ian Butterfield again – I had a long chat with him about his ‘retirement’ last year.

  7. Oh I miss these show gardens. When I was jounger my parents used to take me there all the time. Unfortunately I haven’t got the time and possibility anymore to visit them.

  8. How on earth could you pick a winner – they are all winners!! Beautiful displays and the plants are lovely – just enough to do the job and absolutely nothing out of all place – my garden feels a bit of a mish mash after this lot but will excuse myself a guilt trip as I have got a cold!!


  9. I enjoyed looking at these photos of the nurseries. So ofter there isn’t long enough to take everything in when you stand in front of them at a show, but on a photo I could look for as long as I liked! It’s encouraged me to get out my own photos of shows past as I’m planning a new bed in the garden and looking for inspiration.

  10. I really admire how some of these nursery displays are put together – not just pots of plants lined up for sale. A real feast for the senses I guess. Those begonia leaves are fascinating – I can guess which one is L’Escargot!!

  11. I agree about the wretched coverage of the nursery exhibits, and when they do cover the plant pavilion, it tends to be all frothy and excitable without any really useful or inspiring plant-based information. Onoclea sensibilis is a nice choice, had to look up Woodwardia unigemmata, looks stunning, that vivid colour of the new fronds, I now have fern lust. It could help my acer bed in a little better…

  12. I have enjoyed your post on the nurseries at Malvern. At any show I attend I always make a bee-line for the nurseries, to me that’s the best bit about any show. It’s not just the beautiful displays, but the helpful advice that’s given by people who genuinely love plants. I agree that much more attention should be paid to nurseries when the Chelsea filiming is done.

    Some great nurseries above; I also picked up plants from Hardy’s, Fernatix and Fibrex at the Harrogate Flower Show recently. I don’t know anything about pleiones so will have to look them up. They look so pretty in that photo.

    With plants, it’s not hard to end up having ‘many interests’. 🙂

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.