Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Enjoying the 'Good Life'

Happiness at a previous Malvern Autumn Show
From now until the opening of the Autumn Show, I will be previewing the various sections in greater depth. Being the final Show of the year**, and celebrating “taste, grow, harvest, re-live (vintage) and entertainment”, it is an event not to be missed. If you haven’t already jotted the dates in your diary, please do so now, for it is on for only two days, Saturday 28th September and Sunday 29th. Each year the Autumn Show adapts its ‘content’, and shifts some activities from one location to another – and of course, we cannot show you exactly what you will see; the images in this post are taken from the last four Autumn events, but epitomise the spirit of the occasion.

Brassicas are not only edible - they are decorative too
The ‘Good Life Pavilion’ encompasses just that: living the good life in terms of what you can grow and harvest from your own plot, no matter how small. You are bound to be inspired by the Edible Show Gardens which vary significantly in style from year to year. The more gifted and experienced the designer, the greater the spread of planting and the intricacies of the design, as in that of Paul Hervey-Brookes garden in 2009. The brassicas were spectacular and I spent time talking to Paul about how decorative such plants can be – they need not be confined to the vegetable plot! Even the walls were used; edible sweet chestnuts nestling in their spiky cases in mossy crevices.

Talking to Paul Harvey-Brookes is always a pleasure 
(and I do so admire his gardens)
Jollity in the 'Good Life' Pavilion
There are bound to be pumpkins in September – a striking addition to the green of Summer. Maybe not this year; you never know, for themes vary; but everyone involved will have something that will shout ‘colour’. Something similar could well feature in this year’s ‘WI Baking and Craft’ competitions; pumpkin pie, perhaps, or sculpted and carved in readiness for Halloween.

An informal gathering after the hard work is done
A busy little boy
It’s always a delight to see children participating along with the adults. Their gardens will either be entirely fantastical or very down to earth; but what is so very important is that they are learning by doing - getting their hands dirty - which is far more fun than assimilating facts off a page. Most are deadly serious about what they are creating, and love to tell you in great detail about their garden design, and the plants and how they grew them. Gardeners of the future: we all have to start somewhere so when you visit this year's Show, do make a point of seeking out what the youngsters are up to.

A chic and conceptual garden in which 75% of plants are edible
Discussing ideas 
with Maria-Luisa Medina
From rural scenarios to something more theatrical, futuristic and perhaps urban chic. Such a very clever interpretation which was heavily influenced by the Mediterranean background of the designer, Maria-Luisa Medina - the winner in 2010 of the prestigious ‘Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship’.

Chris commented at the time: "We have shown Maria-Luisa the importance of developing a strong design in order to meet a client brief. Too many people begin with a plot and think ‘now what can I do with that space?’ which immediately restricts the creativity of any design." I was able to discuss with Maria-Luisa her conceptual approach: "All the show gardens must have a 75% edible content and it enabled me to introduce my interest and passion for different cultures and flavours.”

Epitomising rural England
Looking figuratively beneath the surface of any Show Garden is always fascinating; and I love that first foray into the 'Good Life Pavilion' each year to see what designers and exhibitors will be offering in the way of ‘grow, harvest and taste’. I’ll be back again next week previewing another aspect of the Show, as more details emerge of what is on offer.

** There is one more Show organised by the Three Counties this year – the Malvern Caravan Show (4th-6th October); the link at the right will take you to the Show website.

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