Preview of RHS Malvern Spring Show Festival gardens

Towards the end of last year I wrote a post about a crowd funded garden that was being proposed for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.  I am pleased to say that the garden reached its funding target and will now happen.  I have already decided I am going to visit the Festival this year so I thought I would look ahead to what some of the gardens would be like.  The Festival has show gardens and also what I am previewing here, the Festival gardens aimed at inspiring new gardeners.  I will preview the show gardens in another post.
Firstly I am going to mention the Genetic Conservation Garden by Tessa and Caitlin Mclaughlin, partly because it is the first on the RHS information page about the gardens, but also because it is the one I have written about previously mentioned above.  So I am not going to say much more about it here other than I am really looking forward to seeing it.
Next to catch my eye was this garden, 'Mad as a Hatter' designed by Gary Birstow.  It caught my eye as Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite books (probably only beaten by Through the Looking Glass), but this garden is more about hatters than Alice, it is particularly referencing the 'madness' that hatters appeared to have from inhaling mercury fumes.  This is something I knew nothing about so it was a good interesting fact.  The plants used are inspired by Frome Valley so I think it will be a good garden to see.
Still on an Alice in Wonderland theme is the 'Alice in Wonderland' garden by Lorna Davies.  This is to commemorate 150 years since the book was published.  The planting aims to show the colours of the book such as the reds and whites of the Queens.  I do have to comment that the plan could be seen to not compare well against the other garden plans as it is less pictorial.  One thing to remember with the Malvern Gardens is that the designers often do not have the vast resources that Chelsea Flower Show designers can attract, so the garden design quality cannot be judged by the look of the brochure plan.  
The next garden is 'Still Beating the Blues' designed by Emily Sharpe which is based on a painting by Swarez.  I confess to having to google Swarez.  The garden aims to be a retreat from hectic urban life.  It looks minimalistic and calming and will be interesting to see.
The above garden is called 'Mindfulness' and is designed by Contained Gardens.  It looks a very contained space is inspired by the words from a young male suffering from depression.  "The garden is comforting and solid yet transparent providing a safe space with easy escape routes" is how it is described in the blurb.  Like many of the plans (both for this show and Chelsea) I find the plans often do not help me really visualise the space.  I will be interested to see how this looks in reality.
This garden, 'Lets Get you Home' designed by Stacey Gibson, intrigues me as the tree dominates so completely.  This is not a bad thing, I love a good tree and I am looking forward to finding out what type of tree it is.  The garden is about the journey from when someone finds out they have a terminal illness, through to their treatment and to the help Marie Curie provides in supporting the person.
Finally there is 'Nature' designed by Kate Durr.  This plan is riot of greens and looks really vibrant and interesting.  It is dominated by three Cor-ten steel panels. Yes I had to google Cor-ten, it is a steel that weathers (rusts) in a stable way that means it does not need painting.  The words senuous and sultry are used in the description, apparently the planting flirts with us from behind its Cor-ten steel boundaries, would it be wrong to be thinking 50 shades of green?........

I am really looking forward to my visit, the gardens will be top of my agenda to visit on the day and I shall write about the realities on my return.


  1. I´ve read your post about the Festival Show gardens with interest and are looking forward to hear your news when you have seen them in reality.
    First design the Genetic Conservation Garden is nice and easy to maintain. The garden with the dominating tree of Stacey Gibson is interesting, restful and stilly, I like it.
    Last one ´Nature´ of Kate Durr is my favourite, I think. Also a small garden needs tree(s) and greens. What concerns the Cor-ten steel. Sometimes I like it, but in this garden I'm not so sure, the garden is small and there are three panels, may be to much of it. On the other side the greens will dominate when grown up. Well, you will see it on the Malvern Spring Show Festival.


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