Looking at Malvern 2015

Perspectives of Malvern – The Photographer, Visitor and Exhibiter’s views and what I learnt from them all.

This year I went to Malvern Spring Show three times and each time I came away with a different impression, if you like a different perspective. Now I hadn’t planned on visiting in triplicate but have you ever noticed all the best parties occur in an impromptu fashion.

I’ve been involved in one way or another with the gardens at Malvern for quite a while now, whether its my own show piece or helping other designers with theirs. Malvern is a tricky show to build at mainly because of the weather. With the Hills channeling everything Mother Nature can muster in your general direction you can experience all the weather in one day. It’s not unusual to get frost, hail, torrential rain and sunstroke all in a day during build up, but worst perhaps can be the almost gale force winds that swirl around the show ground. This is bad enough for the designers and contractors but the poor cosseted plants find it most objectionable.

For the first time in a long time I wasn’t working on a garden this year which I found made me much more objective as a designer when looking at them. I didn’t know the back story to the build and had no idea of the trials and tribulations the designers and contractors had gone through to produce their gardens. In short I was just like any other visitor looking at their gardens.

Another first for me was looking at the gardens with a professional photographer, Jonathan Ward. Particularly daunting as I have a new camera with not a clue how to use the bloomin’ thing, and yes ladies and gents I did leave the lens cap on and wonder why I couldn’t get a shot at one point. I became much more aware of looking for the best angle or as Jonathan, like a patient parent pointed out, perhaps I should look for ‘The Shot’. It was pointed out which gardens made for the best picture and to be be aware of what was in the background.

I was particularly pleased with this shot as there was large blue lorry and a rather bright flag on the other side of the hedging which you can’t see in this pic.

I see no flags
I see no flags

The problem was I’d become so focused on hiding them I forgot to look at the composition of the picture. So no the wildlife friendly bench isn’t floating on the water feature.

I was slightly more successful at hiding the camera which loomed over this garden

With and without camera
With and without camera

I don’t think I shall be giving up the day job anytime soon, but it was fun.

The next day I met up with three lovely ladies with whom I’ve chatted on twitter. We took in the show gardens and the floral marquee and generally had a pretty good time.

I discovered Alison likes Lupins and also seemed particularly taken with the Violas on the Wildegoose Nursery stand – well they did get a Gold Medal.

Lovely Lupins
Lovely Lupins

 

Award winning Violas  not award winning photography I'm afraid
Award winning Violas
not award winning photography I’m afraid

and Helen liked the troughs of alpines.

Stone troughs
Stone troughs

but keenest of all was Kitty, who’s delight at the Ariculas made me take a more appreciative look at these tiny plants.

Aricula Heaven
Aricula Heaven

Pelargoniums also featured in our day both on the show ground and the floral marquee but most delightfully of all, in cake form courtesy of the rather fabulous Fibrex Nurseries.

Pelargonium Ardens
Pelargonium Ardens might have come home with me

We also tried eating oxe-eye daisies and pine shoots for the first and as for pine shoots possibly the last time. If I’m honest the pine was an experience, very astringent and a bit much on its own but it has made me think I may have more edible plants in the garden than I first realised. So thank you to Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods and Marc Diancono of Otter Farm for enlightening me.

So onto day three, where it was Malvern from the other side so to speak, where I got to experience the show from the perspective of all those who have trade stands and exhibits in the floral marquee.

Firstly with Colin and Tina of Plant Supports UK. Now I’ve bought supports from them for myself and for clients in the past but never sold them.

Tina and Colin Supports UK

Also a couple of days before the show I saw a tweet from Sue Beesley of Bluebell Cottage Nurseries asking if anybody could help on her stand. I figured having been at the show for two days I may as well go for three and as Sue is delightful and a bloomin’ good grower helping sell her plants should be fun.

Again I learnt a lot, this time that as an exhibitor the ankle nipping trollies other visitors dislike are in fact the traders best friend, those people with trollies don’t need a plastic bag for their purchases, excellent news for the environment and the traders. I learnt that Tina is so cheerful it’s infectious, I’m not sure I’ve laughed so much in a long time. I also learnt how to use a card reader *sort of* and discovered that selling anything from solid steel supports to solidly grown plants is easy because they pretty much sell themselves.

But lastly and possibly most importantly I learnt never ever give a plant a pet name because as soon as you do you have to take it home.

May I introduce you to Shrek, he’s a little bit special and came from Bluebell Nurseries. Thank you Sue.

Euphorbia form Bluebell Cottage Nurseries
Euphorbia from Bluebell Cottage Nurseries

Walking With Wildflowers

“Lets go for a walk” they said. “It’ll be fun” they said.

If I’m honest going on a hike up the side of a hill is not high on my list of things to do on an Easter Bank Holiday. Said hill often features in Lycra Clad Lovelies Magazine when they’re running a feature on Most Hideous Hill Climbs on a Bike. However I was assured the route we would take would be high on views, low in arduousness and I was promised lunch at the top.

River Teme
River Teme

I rather hate to admit it, but they were right, mostly. It started off well as we meandered alongside the river, as it in turn, meandered through the valley.

On one side the river and on the other woodland. It was all very peaceful and really quite floriferous, given how late the season is this year.

 

Early Bluebell
Early Bluebell
Euphorbia amygdaloides
Euphorbia amygdaloides
Wood Anemones
Wood Anemones

Just as I was starting to think how jolly this all was a sudden a thought occurred, we were still, even after several miles, following the river. At some point we were going to have to ascend, and yes my deduction was correct as half a mile later we said goodbye to the river.

River Teme turning away
River Teme turning away

So as the Teme turned to the left and we to the right there was a marked change of gradient.

As the slope increased so did my desire to stop and take in the views and examine more closely the flowers and signs of wildlife around me. This was obviously due to my love of all things flora and fauna and absolutely nothing to do with the fact some parts of the walk were steeper than a ski-jump.

Violet Violets
Violet Violets
White Violets
White Violets
Sandstone Steps
Sandstone Steps
Wildlife track
Wildlife track

And so we reached the top and yes the views were stunning and no my little camera phone doesn’t really do them justice.

Teme Valley
Teme Valley
View across the valley
View across the valley

Now I’m not sure about you, but I find few things cheerier that a splash of yellow to mark the end of a walk.

Carpet of Celandines
Carpet of Celandines
Restorative Botanicals
Restorative Botanicals