The Marvels of Malvern10th May 2015 • General • Stephanie Donaldson
I do love the Malvern Show, especially now that the showground has been revamped so that the Hills create a wonderful backdrop to the show gardens. In the past the Hills were at your back when you looked at the gardens – a basic no-no of garden design which always encourages use of the ‘borrowed view’. The only photo I have of this is a hill just visible over the Villagio Verde garden.
As ever, there was far more to see than I had the time or the energy to cover but I do have a few highlights which I can recommend to anyone who gets there today.
Luscious Lupins – I do wish I could grow them but woolly aphids and snails always reduce them to a shredded, stunted mess. Sometimes it’s good to know that you just can’t grow something and just take pleasure in seeing them so well grown by Sarah Conibear’s West Country Nurseries.
Gorgeous Gardens – there were two that were the undoubted stars of the show -Villagio Verde’s ‘An Andalusian Moment’ which was is an extraordinarily detailed and wonderful recreation of the central square of an Andalusian village with venerable olives and pines, the local store, a café, a side street with walls covered with Cordoban-style pots of geraniums – and Spanish radio playing over a loudspeaker. Even the dusty, gritty ground looked entirely authentic. It is fabulous, best seen when the sun is out to feel truly transported to southern Spain.
On a smaller scale, but equally eye catching was Kate Durr’s ‘Constraining Nature’ which was packed with loveliness in a very small space. Lush dense planting surrounded a seating area that was backed by a rill and elegant panels of corten steel featuring a fern pattern. Clever stuff.
Gardenalia – anyone who likes to furnish their gardens with vintage stuff would be very happy to find Van der Wouwer Deco and Sutton & Sons Antiques, two stands alongside one another, each with a vast quantity of garden brocante at very good prices including dolly tubs for £40 and some very tempting wire harvest baskets for £15. The Belgian dealer doesn’t have a shop, while Sutton & Sons who are based in Norfolk work with www.amorosa.co.uk in Newark.
I was at the show well before it opened and got a glimpse into the transportation solutions of one company – thebeautifulbirdhouse.co.uk!
Stylish Succulents – I don’t usually pay much attention to displays of cacti and succulents, bit I totally loved the way Craig House Cacti displayed their plants. I’m puzzled that the judges didn’t agree with me – I think contemporary styling can draw in an entirely new audience and the quality of the plants look first rate to me.
What I bought at Malvern – Anyone who watched The Gardener’s World coverage of Malvern and heard Monty Don mention that he was off to buy Clematis ‘Elgar’ – here’s what it looks like as it awaits planting in my garden. It is a gorgeous large flowered macropetala-type clematis in a lovely dusky hue from Priorswood Clematis and Monty and I weren’t the only ones seduced by its charms – the nursery couldn’t restock the stand fast enough. My other purchase was three huge ornithogalum bulbs that will grow into metre high plants topped with the characteristic star of Bethlehem flowers – on steroids!