Nestled under a backdrop of the stunning Malvern hills, The RHS Malvern Spring Festival is a fabulous way to kick off the garden show season. With ample on-site parking and a large well organised site, it’s a big contrast to the tighter confines of the upcoming city-based Chelsea Flower Show at the end of the month.
In glorious sunshine the Genus team headed off early on the first day of the show arriving just as the show opened. Passing through the north gate we immediately entered the Floral Marquee, a showcase for many of the top nurseries and growers from around the country. Beautifully displayed carnivorous plants, bonsai, amazing delphiniums, auriculas, and clematis were just some of the plants that stood out for us and of course it’s always nice to meet the growers face to face.
Unlike the Chelsea Flower Show plants can be bought and taken away on the day with plant creches available to those whose purchases turn out to be a little more ambitious than planned. We were very impressed to see incredibly organised visitors arriving with small foldable trolleys in which to transport their spoils.
In an area known as Festival Green a number of show gardens had been constructed over the previous week. The biggest eye catcher was ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, a garden designed by Leaf Creative and built within two large covered domes. Houseplants and tropical plants of huge proportions were used to create a steamy humid environment and with piped sounds it felt as though you were entering a set for Jurassic Park. The nearby ‘Vitamin G’ garden, a collaboration between Alan Williams and radio presenter Jo Whiley, was designed to prove how gardening can benefit our mental, physical and social wellbeing. Large concrete planters were set within a circular design and included a studio, a plunge pool and reclaimed timber screening. We loved the Longcroft Press garden by Laura Ashton-Philips. Based around an old apple press, it was designed to celebrate the joy of being together as a family and carrying out the simple task of apple pressing. All the materials used were reclaimed and the planting was a beautiful matrix of wildflowers and ancient apple trees. An old bicycle propped against the building, rusting and cobwebby, really added a final touch to this lovely little garden.
Hundreds of stalls were selling every possible piece of gardening paraphernalia, plants, and garden furniture. Plenty of catering options were available and non-gardeners could be kept occupied for several hours in the art, craft, and antiques arcades.
On the day of our visit several well known faces could be spotted including Adam Frost, Raymond Blanc, Carol Klein, and Arit Anderson all giving talks in the festival theatre.
Our verdict? A well organised event and a great day out for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. With plenty of nurseries offering well-grown plants we’d advise taking a small trolley ,but also some old fashioned cash as the site is a bit of an internet desert and card payment isn’t always an option.