On Sunday we visited the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, and had a brilliant family day out in the sunshine.
The RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place every year at the Three Counties Showground. I’ve been a few times now, and each year it just gets better. You can expect all the usual features of a flower show; floral marquee, show gardens, celebrity talks, workshops, food and drink, entertainment, and lots of plant stalls to tempt even the most iron-willed gardener. Sunday is Family Day, with lots of activities and workshops aimed at children.
There’s so much to see, too much to fit into one day really, but we did our best!
I’m going to share my personal highlights from the festival and show gardens with you, and also let you see what the kids chose as their top picks from the show.
Show & Festival Gardens
The Reflections of Japan garden draws inspiration from the Japanese tea garden, and was a wonderfully calm, reflective space. The stone used really softens the edges of the water, and the planting was immaculate. No surprise that this garden won a Gold medal.
Villaggio Verde’s The Garden of Romance is designed to resemble an old Italian cloister garden. It was so atmospheric, and that huge old olive tree in the centre really stole the show. I love the way the planting is quite formal, but also gives the impression of having spread around naturally over time. When the sun shone on all those herbs and lavender the scent coming at you was just wonderful. A Gold medal for this garden too.
In the Primrose Hospice Time is a Healer garden, I found the contrast of the modern sculptures and seating with the more formal box plants and gravel really effective. The garden aims to provide a space for counselling the bereaved, and to raise awareness of the work done by the hospice.
If I ever move into a country cottage, this is how I want my garden to look. The Water Spout just begs you to wander in, sit on the bench and enjoy the lovely informal planting and rock pool. As well as looking wonderful, it would be a fantastic garden for wildlife. This garden won the award for Best Festival Garden, very well-deserved in my opinion.
The Low Line is aimed at urban and contemporary spaces, and I found it a real exercise in contrast. The old sunken wheel and the informal planting feels very different to the modern waterfall feature, fencing and hard landscaping; I like both elements, but I’m not sure I’d want them next to each other in my garden. What do you think?
Now this garden, Gardening Amidst Ruins: A Homage to Capability Brown by Wyevale Garden Centres, really got people talking. Brown liked gardening in ruins, and the garden aims to evoke a feeling of one of his own lost gardens. The sunken hut in the middle really dominates the space, and the whole garden feels like it’s teetering on the edge of wilderness. What do you think – a bit of a mess, or an imaginative way to preserve the past? The judges thought it deserved a Gold medal. It’s certainly though-provoking, isn’t it?
The Alchemy garden is a permanent garden, and each year an area is updated for the festival. This beautiful water feature stopped me in my tracks, and really set the mood for the whole space.
I love this central seating area on the Graduate Gardeners Gold medal-winning Sunken Retreat garden. The seating is designed to allow you to enjoy the planting at eye level, and you’ve got that lovely, simple water feature providing sound and movement in the background. What a fabulous space for entertaining.
Top Picks from the Kids
This is just one of the many fantastic school gardens created for the RHS Malvern’s School Gardens Challenge, which is championed by BBC Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins. Local schoolchildren design and build their own show gardens, and Chris offers hands-on advice and guidance throughout the process. Both of my kids really loved exploring this inspirational area, and seeing just how much young gardeners can achieve.
Another inspiring school garden, these little fairy doors would be a brilliant craft activity to do with the kids.
This living chair really made them giggle, I wonder what it would feel like to sit on?!
Now this was a pretty exciting moment for our youngest; front row seats to watch CBeebies star Mr Bloom. Alongside Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, he was showing the children how to plant an edible hanging basket. We’ll be making our own version very soon!
Mr Alexander is a bit of a Malvern institution. His one-man variety show features magic, juggling, balance and illusion, and is a real step back in time. All the kids watching him were completely enthralled. Chris was roped in to help with the grand finale unicycle display, unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough with the camera for that bit!
And of course, no family day out in the sunshine would be complete without ice creams and ice lollies….
Visiting inspirational gardens isn’t always the most entertaining day out for children, but Family Day at RHS Malvern really does make it easy. There’s more than enough for the kids to see and do, so you can easily keep them entertained while you get your gardening fix. We all had a really great day out, and we’ll be back again next year I’m sure.
The RHS Malvern Spring Festival has now finished, but if you’re interested in details of next year’s show these will be coming soon on their website. You can also check out all the other RHS shows taking place this year at www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events.