Wednesday, 6 March 2013

On Show - On Stage ....

The Malvern Hills provide the perfect backdrop
to the Malvern Spring Gardening Show

Theatre is very much in evidence at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. Look around you, and you will see how carefully and lovingly everything is staged. Nothing haphazard, nothing left to chance. From the backdrop of the stunning hills, to the immaculate presentation of nursery displays in the Floral Marquee to the innovative and inspiring Show Gardens. Even to the way tools and gardening equipment and sundries are displayed, everything is all so very carefully stage-managed. Breathtaking. 

If it weren't for all the visitors, you would think you were in an alpine rock garden
Regular visitors will know that expert advice is always available from stall holders, whether it is how to grow a specific plant to perfection, or how to nurture edible crops. For general advice, RHS staff on the Royal Horticultural Society stand are a mine of information on both mundane and esoteric topics; pick their brains; their help is invaluable, as I have discovered personally more than once. The enjoyment factor is much in evidence with knowledgeable experts to inform and entertain. Scheduled talks and question and answer sessions will feature throughout the fours days within TWO theatres – both with alluring ‘sets’ to beguile you - created by established garden designers. As I write, the designs are still under wraps but are sure to be as amazing as ever. 

Mark Walker (left) alongside his 'Somerset Pride' show garden, 
for which he received a 'Best Edible Garden' award in 2011 
- presented to him by Mike Warner, TCAS Chairman of the Board
and Elizabeth Banks, RHS President
A facelift is being given this year to the ‘Allotment Theatre’ in the Gardeners’ Shopping Pavilion  (on Row 2), with a theme of ‘Dig for Prosperity’ and a garden to match, designed by Mark Walker of Walker's Garden Retreats. Mark is no stranger to Malvern - his ‘Dig for Victory’ garden at the 2012 Autumn Show was a show-stopper, as was his 'Somerset Pride' (above) in 2011, for which he was awarded 'Best Edible Garden' and an RHS Silver-Gilt medal. Both gardens were overwhelmingly nostalgic, with such attention to detail, that I just wanted to stand and stare and drink it all in. 'Somerset Pride' depicted a rural farmyard setting with the use of authentic rustic materials - a trade-mark of Mark's garden designs. As a sneak preview for his 2013 theatre design, Mark says, “Grange Cottage is closely based on my mum’s childhood home in Oddingley, near Droitwich, where they grew veg, had chickens and worked the local land. We believe every garden has a story to tell, and its purpose for the allotment theatre is for talks on all things veggie, chickens and horticulture in general.”

Mark Diacono last Autumn, 
discussing culinary herbs 
with Kim Hurst of
The Cottage Herbery
Hosting all the entertainment in the ‘Allotment Theatre’ will be Reg Moule, gardening guru for BBC Hereford & Worcester. Reg comes from a family that has been involved in horticulture for several generations, and before this they were all farmers, back to the 1740s. So he knows his stuff. As does Mark Diacono who will be joining him at specified times every day. Mark D. says, “I am lucky enough to spend most of my time eating, growing, writing and talking about food. At my smallholding, Otter Farm in Devon, I grow unusual and forgotten food along with the best of the more familiar.” 

James Alexander-Sinclair (left, nearest camera) hosts
a question-and-answer session in 2012 in the 

'Plants & People Theatre'
As for the spectacular and tented ‘Plants & People Theatre', this is where you can listen to, and meet, more celebrities, each with a widespread knowledge on a number of subjects. The theatre seats fill fast, so check your show guide when you arrive for exact times, and grab a coveted front-row spot for some fantastic live entertainment. Your compères during the four days will be the elegant and amusing James Alexander-Sinclair, an established garden and landscape designer, writer, television presenter and speaker.

Katie Johnson in the 
P&P theatre
And when James is not on stage, sit back and enjoy the friendly interviews conducted by Katie Johnson, a farmer turned broadcaster and writer, and also a presenter at food, drink, and gardening events. 

Carol Klein, 
vivacious and ebullient
Specific and more general topics have yet to be announced, but you won’t want to miss either Chris Beardshaw on Thursday and Friday or Carol Klein on Friday and Saturday. Both are highly entertaining and of course, expert. Carol works as a television presenter and newspaper columnist and will be familiar to TV viewers of Gardeners’ World and Life in a Cottage Garden (her own).

Chris Beardshaw talking to a group of schoolchildren
Chris Beardshaw is also well-known to TV viewers, with a pedigree that includes BBC Two’s Hidden Gardens and The Flying Gardener, amongst many others. (Remember him leaping in and out of a helicopter?) He is also a regular voice on the weekly Radio 4 Gardeners' Question Time panel and will be joining the team at Scotland’s Beechgrove this Spring,  putting his unique horticultural mark on the garden. But Chris is also passionate about passing on his love of horticulture to youngsters, and at the Show on Thursday he will be involved in the theatre with a children’s presentation.

“All the World’s a Stage,” wrote Shakespeare in 'As You Like It' in 1599, “and all the men and women merely players”. Mere players? Everyone involved with the Malvern Spring Gardening Show is dedicated to staging an event ‘par excellence’. 

Don’t miss it. 

Why not book your tickets now?

AND PLEASE ‘KEEP VISITING’: I’ll be blogging again in two weeks time, but meanwhile, I recommend regular clicks onto the Spring Gardening Show website for regular updates and more breaking news.

WHY NOT ALSO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE PAGES, TOO?  (Just click on the links)

Malvern Spring Gardening Show
Love our Shows, Like our Page -
Malvern Autumn Show

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