There is something quintessentially English about a flower and veg show that I doubt you could find anywhere else in the world.
I love Malvern Autumn Show as it heralds the start of Autumn, a season I love with its colours ad abundance.
The show as so much to offer for everyone with all the key components of the traditional country show: giant vegetables, tractors, llamas (well this is Malvern), agility dogs – its all at the show to enjoy.
Over the years the horticultural element has increased with a few more nurseries each year but the show is really a country show and my favourite is the Autumn Show marquee.
Here there are a number of shows within a show with various societies having their shows alongside the Malvern open competition. The quality and number of exhibits never fails to impress.
The embroidery design course I am doing has, I think, given me a new appreciation of textures and colours and I think this comes across in my photos this year.
I found myself attracted to strong colours and interesting foliage. I loved the vibrancy of these hot dahlias against the dark foliage – stunning.
As for the wrinkly texture of this savoy cabbage – I can see this translated into a textile design.
I am so lucky to live where I do and days like today just remind me of this. My eldest and I decided at very short notice that we fancied going to the Malvern Autumn Show. It is literally a 5 minute drive from home so we were able to arrive as the second day of the show was opening and beat the crowds.
I haven’t been to the Autumn Show for some years, there always seems to be something clashing with it. We stopped first in the Harvest Pavilion where the serious showing happens. As you can see we have everything from vegetables through to dahlias. To the other side of this pavilion is the ‘Open Competition’ for a whole range of plants such as succulents, alpines, foliage, roses etc. I have quite a few pics of these as I have been thinking for a few years now of entering. We sussed out the competition so now I have a good idea of the standard I am aiming for.
Whilst I might be thinking of entering an aeonium or two I really take my hat off to those growers who can produce a trug of vegetables like these – sheer perfection. I would be chuffed to get 4 ripe tomatoes let alone 5 matching ones or even a whole trug of matching perfection.
Its not all competitive vegetable and flower growing; the show is very much a local country show that has grown over the years. Elsewhere there are pigs being paraded, as well as sheep, cows, rabbits and goats but our preference was to watch the agility dogs and later the gun dogs who were having a lovely time showing off.
But much as I could watch the dogs for ages the plants inevitably call and we found ourselves in another pavilion which focussed on growing your own (I think). As you entered there was this display by the National Dahlia Society which I thought was pretty special. It really shows how dahlias can be used to create a wonderful exotic look – the colour seems a little blown on this photo possibly due to the lighting in the marquee.
Whilst the dahlias were impressive I was quickly distracted by the Jacques Armand display. My poor son was suffering from my bulb addiction as I had already bought a considerable number of bulbs from Rose Cottage who had been relocated to the Produce Pavilion having lost their marquee in the wind yesterday. There is always something interesting to buy and between the two nurseries I came away with a good haul of tulips for the front garden, some more colchicums – Nancy Lindsay and Dick Trotter, a large Scilla and some punky looking muscari.
At the far side of the show ground to where we parked we came to the nurseries. The number of nurseries both inside and out have grown considerably over the 15 years I have been going to the show. There is now a reasonable number exhibiting inside under cover with large displays. I was really pleased for my friend Helen Picton who was awarded another Gold for her display of asters. I was also rather entranced my the Tale Valley display as it combined all the plants I love; ferns and bulbs and lots of wonderful foliage – food for thought.
I said I would show you some of the nursery stands at the Malvern Autumn Show so here we go. Firstly I must apologise for the poor quality of the photographs, as I said in my last post on Malvern I had my 7 year niece with me who declared plats were boring so my window of opportunity was short plus it seems the lighting was worse than I expected.
With my growing interest in alpines I was immediately attracted to the Edrom Nurseries stand but I suspect this would have drawn me any way since it was a mass of gentiana and I hadn’t realised that there was such a wealth of gentianas, lots of different shades of blue.
I particularly liked the display by D’Arcy and Everest from Cumbria. Lots of food for thought on how to plant up my first trough which is lurking on my patio.
This was my favourite ‘trough’ it looks so simple at first glance but in fact it is very intricate and very clever – I am aspiring to create something similar.
I was also drawn to the Tale Valley stand as I have a weakness for ferns and I was also curious to see if they had any Bergenias for sale, like the one you can see in the background, as I had been particularly taken with them at The Garden House the week before but my niece was having none of that and we moved swiftly on. Just think how much she saved me!
I also managed a fleeting glance at the Kelnan Plants stand. I do love South African plants and try to grow a few but not having a very large greenhouse, overwintering them is troublesome.
So that is my brief review of the nurseries at the Malvern Autumn Show – maybe next year I will get more of a chance to peruse the displays but at least this year I had the ‘delight’ of seeing all the various rabbits, numerous dogs and livestock!
I have spent today at the Malvern Autumn Show with my eldest son (21) and my niece (7). It is interesting how visiting these shows with different people gives you a whole different viewpoint. The Autumn Show used to be very much an agricultural show but this seems to have faded in recent years with more focus on gardening and in particular growing edibles. I suppose this makes sense as late September is when vegetable growers are really reaping the rewards of their efforts.
The edible growing ranges from designs for vegetable gardens which is where I took the above two photos. We were rather taken with the soup ladle water feature and at least your squashes would be clean! I did like the modernist look of the salads growing in colanders but I always wonder just how practical these really are and whether the vegetables would really grow as well as that if they had been planted as small seedlings or even sown.
Then there is the vegetable show starting with the giant veg. This isn’t the largest pumpkin, there is one larger but it was busy having its photograph taken by many people so I didn’t bother. In the past when I have been to the show on my own or with gardeners we have browsed through the show tent, with my tent we went at a brisker pace especially once she had caught onto the fact that there were first, seconds and thirds. We really motored from one category to another.
I managed to slow things down a tad while I looked at the dahlias but not very much after all there was still discovery zone to explore where owl pellet dissection and dragonfly making beckoned.
As I said the show used to be more of an agricultural show and there are still show animals. We saw donkeys, horses, a few sheep, a pig and many dogs including those being trained as gun dogs – this was my niece’s favourite bit as she loves dogs. We looked at the show rabbits and decided the lop eared ones looked depressed and to be honest I really didn’t like seeing them in the small show cages. Then there was the acrobatic flying and tug of war which was quite entertaining.
I did manage to get half an hour in the floral ‘marquee’ but will save that for another post.
All in all it was a nice day, the sun shone and the refreshments were good.
I’m not a big one for celebrating the New Year, I find it very over hyped and commercial and people seem to have high expectations for having an amazing time. For me Christmas marks the end of the year and I find myself looking forward and making plans before the tree is even down. In fact my tree is frequently down before the New Year. I like Christmas I have just had enough of all the decoration by about the 29th and want to get on!! Part of it is due, I think, to having had the shortest day on the 21st December and so we are already moving forward and thinking about when we can plant things etc.
So, as for me its the end of the year I thought I would look back on the past year as they do on all those TV shows!!
January started off chilly with snow and ice and amazing stalagmites. I worried about my plants and was lucky to only loose a Geranium Madrense. I received a large quantity of seeds from various seed distribution schemes (which I have now decided is not the best way to go and wont be repeating) and Vegplotting and I had to daft idea of inviting people to meet up with us at the Malvern show.
February was a challenging month for me. Having lost my sister suddenly in October 2009 I broke down in February as the suppressed grief while I put on a brave face for my parents overwhelmed me. I can also see now in retrospect that the new relationship I was in was having a negative impact on me. More snow in mid-February added to my depression and frustration and my end of month post shows my feeling of despair of ever getting into the garden which I desperately needed to help me heal.
March and at last spring flowers start to appear in the garden and it is possible to start sowing seeds and moving forward. My eldest built me some raised staging just off the patio area which finally helped address a difficult area. The staging has been a real boon. In the spring it was full of seedlings and young plants hardening off, the summer saw it covered in my tender plants and now it is fully occupied with pots of bulbs. Enthusiasm for the blogger meet up was growing and beginning to scare us!
April another difficult month for me as I finally got to see a grief counsellor which was fantastic as I felt that I was given permission to grieve, it also made me feel as though I had woken up from some sort of torpor and I realised that the relationship I was in was making me extremely happy. This was apparent on a weekend away to Devon which despite visiting the lovely East Lambrook Manor Gardens and discovering the enchanting Cothay Manor was not the best weekend away. The month ended with me painting a picket fence at a show garden at the Malvern show and feeling relieved that I was moving forward.
May – a month of two shows. The start of May brought the Malvern Spring Show and around 40 bloggers met up over three days. We even welcomed some international guests: Gail, Frances, Ewa and Yolanda who were a merry bunch and you would think had known each other for years. We had two meals out with around 15 at each meal and a get together at my house when I think 20 bloggers turned up. The overriding thing that I remember is the feeling of friendship and how people were amazed at how easy it was to talk to people they had never met before but had been talking to via the internet for some time. The month ended with my first visit to Chelsea Flower Show. This left me with mixed feelings – I found it all a little claustrophobic, surreal and pretentious. It is obviously aimed at the London and well healed market and this was noticeable with the prices of the sundries for sale. Also unlike Malvern you can’t actually buy plants. It’s not really for me and I havent decided yet whether to go in 2011 but it was an experience and I’m glad I went if it was only to see what all the fuss was about.
June started with a visit to Clare Austin’s iris fields which was fascinating and taught me that there is much more to bearded irises than I had realised. I also mulled over the different gardening club world I was involved in and I decided to leave the local club as I found it upsetting due to the members, albeit it well intentioned, asking me how the family were etc in light of losing my sister – I just wanted to move on. The end of June brought a visit to Cottesbrooke Plant Fair with VP which was fabulous and I shall definitely be going next year. This is more my kind of thing than Chelsea.
July and the garden is looking full. I also did a bit more garden visiting including a mad day with Victoria at Hidcote and Kiftsgate gardens in the Cotswold where we found ourselves comparing our reactions to the two gardens – I think it is fair to say we both preferred Kiftsgate and felt it was a more personal garden. I also discovered Bryans Ground in Herefordshire, the garden of the editor and creator of the Hortus magazine. I loved this garden for so many reasons and shall be going back next year.
The end of July and beginning of August took me and my sons on their first overseas trip to Italy. We had a fantastic time staying in Sorrento and admiring the citrus trees that made the ones growing in greenhouses in this country look pathetic!! On a gardening note we visited La Mortella the garden of Susana Walton. Back home I struggled to be enthusiastic about the garden and this wasn’t helped by never-ending rain. I pondered what to do with the slope at the back of my garden giving up on the idea of a wildflower meadow
September brought another daft gathering of bloggers and twitters. Arising out of a twitter conversation about gardens people would like to visit I managed to volunteer myself to organise a visit to Highgrove, Prince Charles’s house. So early September saw a disparate group meeting in Malmesbury and boarding a bright yellow coach. I think we all had a good day and the sun shone though I’m not so sure that we all liked the garden!! I also decided that the solution to the slope was to plant it with grasses and late flowering perennials. The month ended with the Malvern Autumn show which is getting better and better and a chance to meet Mark author of one of my favourite books this year A Taste of the Unexpected.
October and I started trying to look forward to 2011 and planted lots of bulbs. I took my eldest son to Grand Designs in Birmingham which was interesting and amusing. My son was told that his employer was unlikely to be able to keep him on as a joinery apprentice but he took a positive approach and got in his car and went out looking and within a week had secured another job. The new job is his dream job, he works for a top end furniture maker and is incredibly happy and learning new stuff every day. I decided to embrace growing edibles after being inspired by Mark’s book and planned a soft fruit border. At the end of the month I visited Arley Arboretum and saw the wonderful autumn colours.
November started cold, wet and windy which was not great given we had three days of award ceremonies at work! But I was quickly distracted when the local council offered me an allotment. November then was completely dominated with me trying to organise myself, find out more about vegetable growing and starting to dig the allotment.
And so we find ourselves in December. A month which has been dominated with snow and ice and incredibly low temperatures. So many people have had their plans for Christmas affected, including us, but at the end of the day at least we all have our health and each other.
Looking back on the past year has taken a lot longer than I anticipated. The photos of the garden in the summer has made me realise that I am a little harsh on myself and it looks better than I think at the time. I dont think I have really enjoyed my garden this year but I also think this has been due to struggling to deal with my grief. The highlights of the year have all involved meeting up with blogger and twitter friends – so thank you all particularly for your patience and support.
What will 2011 bring, well I think that’s for another post!
I spent yesterday at the Malvern Autumn show and ended up being there a lot longer than originally anticipated. About four years ago the show had only a small horticultural offering, a few nurseries and bulb merchants, but this has really been turned around in recent years. For at least three years there has been what is called ‘The Good Life Pavillion’. Here there are a small number of show gardens which focus on growing your own, vegetable seed merchants and some other local producers – this year a number of cider producers! The number of nurseries has also grown not only the number in the large hall but also those outside. So now it feels like horticulture is being represented at the show as well as all the normal agriculture show features – dog agility, working horses, ferrets!! And we mustn’t forget the prize-winning vegetables but I will save those for another post.
Having the luxury of only living a 5 minute drive from the showground I have the advantage of getting there ready for opening time and so I can have a good look round and talk to the nurserymen before it gets too crowded. This is the best time to buy plants. You can pick up some really special things and also get the advice from the stall holder.
There were, as in previous years, nurseries which focus on one genus of plant; so you have huge displays of lilies, fuschias, gladioli. I never like these displays I think I find them just too overwhelming, I much prefer the displays were the nursery create a planting scheme with the plants they are offering. Whilst I was taking the photo above of a large display of fuschias I was amused to over hear a couple walking past. She says to him “Are there any here you haven’t got?” Considering the size of the display and the number of different fuschias jammed into it I hate to think what their garden is like or where on earth he stores them all through the winter! Also overhead was a farmer type moaning that there was too much horticulture!!!
I ended up with two tender ferns (inc a Phlebodium Aureum Areolata) for the greenhouse, a Sarracenia C V Juthatip Soper, a Saxifraga ‘Crystal Pink’ and a Salvia Confertiflora. Aong with some Cammassia Alba and Narcissus Paperwhite bulbs.
Having got my purchases nice and early I then met up with a number of blogging/twitter friends who I meet on a regular basis at the Malvern shows. This now brings a new side to the show as its fun to spend time looking at the show through other gardeners/horticulturists eyes and its great to catch up. Even more fun is the plant swapping that goes on in the car park – I came home with some strawberry plants and a Tree Onion which I wasn’t expecting.
We spent quite a bit of time in The Good Life Pavillion listening to talks by Mark Diacona and Joe Swift on growing vegetables. In particular Mark was promoting his new book – A Taste of the Unexpected which implores people to grow edibles that have an amazing taste (more of this on another post) and those who know me well will be impressed that he has convinced me that maybe I can grow edibles!! Mark was incredibly kind and gave me a Szechuan Pepper plant to start me off.
All in all a long but very enjoyable day rounded off by drinks later with some of my twitter friends who were staying overnight locally.
Today I went to the Malvern Autumn Show where I met up with Anna of Green Tapestry. We started off in the RHS halls which, although not as vast as at the Spring show, still had plenty to interest us. We were particularly taken with the cherry tomato and brussel sprout trees on the Medways Vegetable display – those are the red, yellow and green balls you can see in the above picture. I thought it might be a novel way of serving the brussels on Christmas Day but I suspect cooked brussels wouldn’t work so well!
I have been meaning to visit Picton Nurseries in Colwall (about 10 mins from me) for a couple of years now. They have the national collection of asters and everyone I know seems to have visited it and are amazed that I still haven’t been. I have to admit that I can take or leave Asters so this is probably why I haven’t visited but maybe its because at this time of year life is so busy I just haven’t time.
There was a small selection of show gardens all relating to growing veg etc, as I have said before not my favourite occupation but I was particularly taken with the one above. We met up with Deb from Beholders Eye and Claire Potter of the Eco Spot who had designed one of the gardens. She was less than happy with her award as she felt that the RHS judges hadn’t read her brief and so couldn’t have judged the garden properly. She had also done the planting around the stage with was a lovely display of vegetables and other edibles and looked stunning.
Anna and I then went to the Harvest Pavillion which strangely is no where near the rest of the gardening stuff. Here we saw gigantic vegetables which were just ridiculous. I did take some pictures but they just dont convey the scale of the things. The winning pumpkin was 276kg in weight! We both decided we preferred the veg that were to scale and I was particularly taken with this prize winning basket of produce. Not only was the pavillion full of gaint veg but also gaint Dahlias and in fact every sort of Dahlias. I don’t think I have seen so many Dahlias in one place. I’m sure there were more than last year.
We went back for another look round the RHS Hall and for me to pick up a very tall Salvia that I had succumbed to, along with some other plants. On the way we had a quest for a certain Tulip that Anna was after which we finally secured at the fourth bulb merchants a rather interesting company called Rose Cottage Plants. In the hall we found the Lily that Anna also had on her wish list and a grass I had dragged her round the Spring show looking for so we were definately happy bunnies. While waiting for Anna to buy her Lily I took the picture below of a delightful display of Gentians. We parted company at lunchtime and I came away very happy with my morning and purchases. Definately a good day.
Today I met VP of Vegplotting which was really nice. We met at the Malvern Autumn Show which is literally 5 mins drive from my house so very handy for me. I havent been to the show for about 5 years and my memories was that it was more of a country show than a gardening show but now the RHS have got involved and have a flower show so I had my fingers crossed that it wouldnt be all agriculture!
It was great to meet a fellow blogger – a couple of years ago I would have been very reluctant to meet someone I had only exchanged emails with but thanks to the friendly world of garden blogging I had no such qualms today. We arranged to meet outside the Plot to Pot marquee and so I waited with anticipation for VP to appear. I neednt have worried as she says its like meeting someone who you are half way through a conversation with. We went off to meet Deb who had a her first show garden and to congratulate her on her bronze medal. She was really happy and though she said the adrenalin was wearing off I suspect it hadnt really yet as she was all gung-ho about doing a garden at the spring show – mad! I really admire her drive and confidence in doing a show garden – I wouldnt know where to start and would find the criticism very hard to take.
We had a look around the RHS flower show and were really pleased to discover that there were two halls of nurseries with lots of goodies – though no Dahlias(the only ones were the ones in the Dahlia competition)!!!!! Then it was back to the Pot to Plot tent for a sit down and listen to Toby Buckland, the new face of Gardeners World, do a talk on cooking your own veg – he didnt do the cooking but it was really very interesting and I now know that the tip of the chilli is milder than the shoulders. Appetites wetted we had lunch and spent a pleasant hour putting the world to rights – we discovered a shared connection with the Open University, VP as a part tutor and me as a part student (different subjects), we speculated over the identify of GardenMonkey, envied JAS’s and EmmaT’s jobs and generally a common interest in all things gardening.
Refreshed we ventured into the weird world of giant veg growing.
A very bizarre world in my opinion but then it takes all sorts. VP decided that her apples could easily rival those on display in the fruit section and I wouldnt be surprised if next year there isnt an entry from herself – if she can only find out how to enter!!!
Then we made our way back to the RHS halls to complete the day with purchases. It being late in the day we started to discover that the price were being reduced but VP got the best bargain – 3 pots of Gladiolus callianthus for £3!!!! They were from the display so VP was given a raffle ticket and told to come back at 4pm. Doubt started to creep in – where they actual plants or cut flowers – Never mind I said £3 for a big bunch of flowers is still a bargain. We returned at 4pm – with me having bought a ridicoulously tall Bidens – the anticipation!
I waited in the wings ready to console if it was cut flowers, I could see bags being moved and VP clutching a large sheath of leaves and yes it was 3 pots of Gladiolus callianthus – the bargain of the year!!! and a very happy VP!
So that was our grand day out and I think we both really enjoyed it and hopefully we will do the same again soon.