Friday, 10 May 2013

Spring Gardening Show Scrapbook - day one (Thursday)

What a setting - the Malvern Hills are a backdrop 
to this Show Garden
Scrapbooking a day late - by the time we had downloaded and sorted all the images we had taken, struggled with the wind and the rain and generally decided how I would create today's post, the light had gone. Today is calmer, and now bright and sunny.

Such a surprise !
I find it impossible to visit all areas of the Showground in one day - had I been solely visiting for my personal delight, I would have done as I advised in an earlier post and concentrated on a specific area. Fortunately, I am here for all four days so can pace my areas of enjoyment. (Today was actually my 'shopping fix'! But more of that tomorrow.)

Collage of some of today's photo-shoot
Show Gardens: seeing them actually finished, as opposed to watching how the various plots emerge from a piece of bare turf, was a revelation. I am not going to cover them all, but have picked our my favourites - your choice might be entirely different. I am personally not concerned about medals but look at any garden as a source of inspiration. Inspiration for more than our own acre, but for my sketchbooks and hand-made journals.

The BBC were filming in the rain yesterday
I have to admit to three favourites, each quite different in style and planting and each lovely to me for various reasons. It's surprising what will trigger a response when viewing any garden - here at Malvern, or at Shows large and small around the country. And as a visitor it often has nothing to do with evaluation, or size, or the amount of work that must have gone into the design, creation and build, but something that sparks the imagination, evokes a memory.

Mark Eveleigh's 'Boathouse No.9' (page 24) has such a gentle simplicity about it, as Mark's gardens always have. A garden with atmosphere that grows out if its surroundings; as near to nature as a patch of ground can possibly be, with hedgerow shrubs, nettles and wild flowers; a clinker-built wooden dinghy gradually decaying. A haven for wildlife, and for me reminiscent of the walks I took as a young child with my grandmother in the early 1940s. Mark's boathouse has been created from an old gardener's shed that has stood overlooking the River Severn for the last 65 years. Props complete the feeling of a bygone age.

Back in Cornwall (via Malvern)
And then my teenage years and visits to Cornwall, continued in early married life, when my new husband and I visited so many gardens and drove around the countryside in an old Austin Seven. Such different scenery, so lush, and plants I had never then heard of. Paul Taylor of Alchemy Gardens sourced materials from Cornwall for his 'Room with a View' (page 27) which was inspired by the gardens at Trebah nestling within a valley near Falmouth. Both the 'real' Trebah and this recreation have a subtropical feel - indeed the contractors were so determined to feature the correct plants, they visited the gardens to check authenticity. The colours of the stone imported by the ton used are subtly beautiful, just as is the stone found on the Lizard. It's doubly poignant for me to feel I am back in Cornwall, as I am currently re-reading 'All the Day Long' by Howard Spring, set in a landscape so near to Trebah.

And so to France (also via Malvern)
And so to southern France and camping trips in olive groves, picnics down little side roads - a memory that instantly came to mind when I saw the build-up - and now the finished garden - of 'Reposer Vos Roues' (Rest your Wheels) which Villaggio Verde has created: a rustic cafe which has played host to professional cyclists for more that 100 years. Now an important  refreshment stop along the route of the Tour de France for riders and their teams. There's an interesting story to the age-old olive trees used to create this garden: they are re-cycled. Greek farmers are offered a subsidy to grub them up and replant with young, more productive stock - ordinarily they would be burned, but their reprieve means they have a further life, bringing joy to lovers of the Meditarranean, and to show garden visitors.

A glorious Spring arrangement
I have been back to all the 2013 Show Gardens many times since we arrived on Wednesday, but had not realised that in fact these three, coming together as they do this year, encapsulated three ages in my life - and I am almost back to my theatrical scenario, and Shakespeare's "seven ages of man". Tomorrow, my 'Shopping Fix around the Showground' (WiFi permitting).


  1. Wow...This is what i have been looking for and you have done a great job. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad you liked it, Amelia, and good to say 'hello'.