Of Cabbages and Kings – Malvern Autumn Show

For several years now I have gone to the Autumn Show with a particular friend. I hope she wont mind me saying this but she would not, nor is she ever likely to describe herself as a gardener (although I have been trying to indoctrinate her for years). This two day event set at the foot of the Malvern Hills, is for us, absolutely perfect. Enough of everything to keep us both happy. Even the weather, which this year has been to put not to0 fine a point on it, rubbish, unless of course you are a mollusc or a bog plant, was perfect this year.

First stop for us is always the Harvest Pavilion, the giant vegetables always make us smile and I love the attention to detail in the displays. I know that this pavilion never fails to amaze, delight and amuse. It is however a very serious business, as you can tell from the faces of those judging.

Having exhibited in the Harvest Pavilion I have experienced the trials and tribulations of trying to achieve perfection. This year has been a difficult one, seeing gardeners dealing with the vagaries of the British weather and yet once again faultless flowers, fruit and vegetables abounded.

The National Vegetable Society, National Championships had a Jubilee and Olympic theme. The Midlands Branch came in first with their display, which featured a fiery looking chili torch.

The Welsh contingent was much more traditional in its arrangement and I particularly liked their fine display of multicoloured carrots and Kiwano (Horned Melon), which is something I haven’t seen before.

Keeping with the Jubilee theme the Scottish Branch displayed an array of baby vegetables on a cupcake stand with both of us being most impressed by the small but perfectly formed Cauliflower.

One thing I noticed this year was the different way of styling ones leeks. I wonder if perhaps some inspiration had come from the “World Beard and Moustache Championships”

“The Little Mi”
“The Freeform”
“The Standing to Attention”

Although very impressive this years giants seemed a little thin on the ground and I cant recall seeing any of the giant swedes so reminiscent of alien lifeforms.

The Show gardens at the Autumn Show are smaller and less numerous than the Spring Show. There is a shorter time available for the build but they rarely fail to deliver on attention to detail and good design. The one difference, I would suggest, is that this Show has a more relaxed feel with some of the gardens displaying a sense of fun and whimsy not always seen in the spring.

A La Mode Dining – Best in Show
“Dig for Victory” – featuring an Anderson Shelter covered with vegetables
Colourful display in – “Discovering Brassicas!”

Happily for those building show gardens they are housed undercover in the Good Life Pavilion Theatre. Throughout the day there were a full programme of demonstrations. Unfortunately we arrived too late to watch Jean-Christophe Novelli but we did catch Mark Diacono demonstrate the tongue tingly transforming nature of Szechuan pepper in cocktails and also demonstrate how to make the perfect Mojito with local mint and cider.

Fortified we then spent the rest of the day taking in the sights, tasting local delights and generally having a lovely time.

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