Sunday, 12 May 2013

Shopping Spree & Wish List

Quality shopping in the Elgar Arcade
I have hardly had time for a spree, but from the streams of visitors leaving the Showground on their way back to the car park yesterday evening, laden with plants and equipment, they must have had a field day. But I did still manage my shopping ‘fix’ without which I would have felt cheated. Blogging away all day in the Press Room (or at least preparing posts) does not leave much time for spending money.

This year there were for me some delightful new surprises – and I have to say here that this is not a round-up of what is on offer at the Show (that came in my Shopper’s Paradise post of 19th March, which from the statistics seems to have been highly popular). No, what follows is what I sought, and what I happened upon.

A touch of nostalgia
In the re-vitalised Eco area near the Brown Gate was first-time exhibitor, Long Toms, who specialise in reclaimed vintage hand-made terracotta pots. I have a passion for old planters, but no way could we fit any into the car this time, so these are an item on my ‘wish’ list, which grows gradually month-by-month.

Yet more nostalgia
Just across the way in the marquee was one of my favourite sources of unusual herbs and edible leaf plants (another passion!) – The Cottage Herbery run by dear friends Kim & Rob Hurst. There were racks of plants to tempt me (yet again!) and for first time gardeners with small gardens, planting ideas some of which were beautifully presented in unusual containers supplied by Tansy Tulip. I need to find time to re-visit the stand today, as I meant to buy one of the lovely photographic gift cards produced by the Hurst’s daughter, India for her own input into the business under her brand ‘Culti-Vate’. (note to self to get up early!)

A beautiful plant with an
unpronounceable name
More plants – and it’s a small world. Next to us in the exhibitors’ caravan site is the lady who runs Mandy Plants, specialising in ‘Mandevilla’ and ‘Dipladenia’. What? I am ignorant of so many plants but when I discover her husband works for the company for whom I also write a blog, I know I must investigate. Beautiful woody-stemmed, semi-evergreen, twining plants ideal for conservatory or outdoor summer patio (of which I have neither), I nevertheless challenge myself to somehow provide the right conditions. I buy one – a perfect specimen (not looking at its best on the step of our caravan). I just hope I don’t kill it.

Local plants from the Cotswolds
I’m on safer ground with my next discussion in the Floral Marquee at Cotswold Garden Flowers. Who says you shouldn’t grow Cow Parsley? Invasive as it self-seeds all too easily but heads can be cut off when the seed sets. But it wasn’t the common wild variety which was of interest but Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Raven’s Wing’ which caught my fancy, with dark almost black leaves and more delicate creamy umbels than in the hedgerow plant. Perfect for wilder areas of the garden.

We were all hungry in the Press Room!
By now, late morning, hunger sets in amongst those journalists still filing copy. My photographer husband is sent forth for food and drink, and returns with Welsh chicken and leek pastries, a magnificent fresh cheese baguette and local farm butter from the Artisan Food Market; and for quaffing, an inestimable dry cider from Ralph’s Cider & Perry.

My fabric 'fix'
So to the other side of my creative life: a love of textiles, collage, and hand-made sketchbook journals. Imagine my excitement when a hand on my shoulder turned out to be that of the owner of Natura Leigh who sell amongst other items the most marvellous French chambrey fabrics, vintage print ribbons and floral print wooden buttons. (They’ll be exhibiting again on the Showground next week at Quilts UK.)

On my wish list
On my perpetual wish list are the exquisite Historic Building in Clay exhibited under the umbrella of the Guild of Herefordshire Craftsmen by their creator Neil Spalding. Raku-fired ceramics par excellence that I always envisage (for me) as part of a mixed-media collage, machine-stitched on a paper/fabric background. I can but dream to own an original.

The most amazing book
And finally when investigating activities in the children’s Discovery Zone, I meet the most remarkable lady. Jane Smith lives just down the road on Malvern Common and has recorded the annual cycle of wildlife on the common in words and exquisite photographic images. Her book, ‘Malvern Common in Spring and Summer’ make me determined to stop the car – how much we miss when travelling by car. These are flower meadows full of wild orchids, and butterflies long-gone from most of our beleaguered landscape, yet here on the Showground doorstep. And Jane is donating all proceeds of this and other projects towards a very worthwhile charity she has set up to support local training enterprises in Gambia.

This is my penultimate post relating to the 2013 Malvern Spring Gardening Show. A summary will be posted later today, along with news of first-time-at-the-Show events – though I always make such announcements with some trepidation as a Sunday seems to be a favourite day for Blogger program maintenance, and there is nothing anyone can do about one’s inability to work online.

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