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!

Fernatix
Fernatix

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.

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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.

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.

Fernatix
Fernatix

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.

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