RHS Malvern Spring Show 2016

The UCARE Garden
The UCARE Garden

I can’t remember the last time I went to RHS Malvern Spring Festival and it wasn’t freezing cold and/or raining.  This year we were treated with a beautiful sunny day which really bought the plants to life especially in the show gardens.  I took my mother this year as she is really getting into gardening and wanted to look at greenhouses.  She isn’t that keen on the showgardens so we didn’t spend much time looking at them but I did spot a few that I really liked.  Of the ones I saw The UCARE Garden was my favourite.  I really liked the planting with the orange of the Dryopteris erythrosora picking up on the orange flowers of the euphorbia and the rust of the water feature.  Blue, being a complimentary colour, works very well with the orange and whole is contained by the box edging with its frothy fresh spring leaves.  The garden won a silver-gilt and I believe lost points over some of the planting but given that the season has been so cold until now its a wonder that the designers had the material they did to work with.

The Sunken Retreat
The Sunken Retreat

I was also attracted to The Sunken Retreat again because of the oranges but I also liked the clean lines of the hard landscaping and the sunken seating area (sorry no photo) which means the plants are at eye line.  My mother really didn’t like this garden instead she preferred this one

The Water Spout
The Water Spout

Her reason was that she could see herself in this garden, there would be things to do and lots of different plants to look at.  She felt the others were very set pieces with plants that were all flowering now but what would they be like in a months time and they were too precise and designed for her.  I have to admit that I probably would be bored with the two gardens I liked but as I said to Mum they show you have to combine plants to get good effects – she still wasn’t convinced!


Before the showgardens our first stop was the floral marquee which is always my favourite part of the show.  I think there might have been less nurseries this year as it felt very spacious even when we returned later in the day and the showground was full. Next year I think I will go to the show on my own as in recent years I have always been with someone and I never look properly as I am too busy talking or pointing things out.  Anyway, I did see some of my favourite nurseries.  I always love Fernatix’s stand but then I would be quite happy with a garden that was all ferns; they are just so elegant and create a wonderful atmosphere.

Hardys Plants
Hardys Plants

Hardys Plants stand looked wonderful as ever but a particular achievement this year as Rosie Hardy is in the middle of creating her very first RHS Chelsea Show Garden which I am really looking forward to seeing.


I was also taken with this eye-catching display; it was nice to see a display which made you look up.  But then again I always love bulbs and I was particularly taken with Tulipa Rosy Bouquet which I can see bringing together the white lunaria and cerise rhododendron in my garden.

Tulip Rosy Bouquet
Tulip Rosy Bouquet

So those are my highlights from RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2016.  I think the show continues to improve year on year and having visited a number of similar events around the UK I still think it is the best.  Its hard to explain why,  but trying to put aside it closeness to home, there is just such a nice atmosphere and it always seems friendly with nurserymen happy to are information and advice.

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

16 thoughts on “RHS Malvern Spring Show 2016”

  1. You should have gone today Helen, you would of had rain, the thunder storm was phenomenal!
    I liked the Japanese show garden and the Macmillan’s sponsored one designed and built by a young man from Hanley Castle.

    1. The thunder storm was bad enough at home, was glad I wasn’t at the show.

  2. That Tulip Rosy Bouquet is very pretty! I wish we had more events like this here… Or that I knew where they were. The display gardens always look so well put together.

  3. Helen, that show looks wonderful. We have had quite cool weather here in New England as well. The leaves on the trees are not fully out and everything is in suspended animation after a week of gray skies and rain. It is quite green though.

    1. Hi Layanne
      The leaves aren’t all out here either, all a bit of a mixed bag. There at normally lots of irises at Malvern but there were few this year and trilliums which was disappointing

  4. Loved the Fernatix stand (and bought a couple of their ferns) and loved the Sunken Retreat. i thought the design was really harmonious – everything worked together, and everything was in proportion, which gave it a very restful feel.
    I completely agree that the show improves year on year, and i thought this year’s show was the best yet, despite the fact that the heat and the traffic jams on Friday melted my already stressed-out brain. I was trying to analyse the appeal of Malvern, and came to the conclusion that it is because the visitors come top of the list of priorities. At Chelsea, you sometimes get the feeling that the visitors are there as a kind of crowd scene, or extras, paying homage to horticulture’s great and good.

    1. Hi Victoria
      I didn’t buy from Fernatix this time as they didn’t have the ferns I was after. My fern collection is out of control so I am now after the more unusual things!

      I think you are right about the attraction of Malvern. Of course it didn’t used to be a RHS show so it developed its character before the RHS got involved. I keep comparing it to Tatton which has a similar spacious location etc but it doesn’t have the feel of Malvern and I wonder if it is because Malvern has always been a local show which has grown that makes the difference.

    2. Next time to come to Malvern show let me know and I will give you some tips of how to avoid the traffic

  5. Oh the Fernatix stand looks a most welcome cool and shady recess Helen. We were tempted to visit the show when we first caught glimpse of the forecast for the week but were unable too. I remember one year when it was warm but our our usual experience of Malvern has been cool, wet and windy. Still it remains my favourite show, probably because of the fabulous backdrop of the hills and the friendly atmosphere. Also the crowds never seem overwhelming.

  6. Love, love, love the Sunken Retreat. If I had a more formal garden I’d be seriously inspired. I can steal ideas from the plant combinations though. Stunning.

    1. I have found myself pondering creating some sort of sunken built in seating on the patio – but I think its a but of a pipe dream

  7. As a fern lover the fern stand looks wonderful. Few plants are as beautiful as an unfurling fern. I love the photo of you below. Now I have a face to put with the garden and all your thoughtful posts.

  8. Good review, I like how you and your mother gave a different point of view. The oranges always look great with Corten steel. I too am looking forward to Hardys Chelsea garden this year.

  9. We came up to the show on Friday from Hampshire. We were treated to tea with Alan Titchmarsh and the hilarious James Alexander Sinclair curtesy of our daughter and son in law. ….It was a glorious day…..and we bought some lovely Geums and Heucheras… have never know it to be so hot ….Malvern is a very special place…

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