Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 29 September 2008

Marvellous Malvern

Self Contained from Beholder's Eye

I love Malvern. It's a place of good times and memories as it was our family's premier choice for a day out when I was little. It was like magic - the number 144 Midland Red bus from the end of our road would whisk us away from the dingy outskirts of Birmingham and we'd arrive in a sparkling new world full of hills and fresh air. We'd climb up Worcestershire Beacon, unpack our picnic and drink in the view as well as a welcome cuppa brewed up by dad on a tiny camping gas stove. The rest of the world was spread out below us like a map and it was easy to spot the Three Counties Showground from our perch atop the hill.
So it felt a little like coming home yesterday when I pitched up at the showground for the Malvern Autumn Show. I'd only been to the Spring one previously and I was a little worried on my arrival as most of the stands seemed to have very little to do with plants. Luckily I'd arranged a couple of rendezvous at the From Plot to Pot tent and soon found the heart of the show's plant action.

It was lovely to meet Deb at last and to see her first show garden for real instead of in blogland. It was a fabulous result and Deb was so enthusiastic about her whole experience and achievement. It's great when people's dreams start to come true and I believe she is already contemplating her next show garden - after some well deserved sleep of course!

I then met up with Helen (Patient Gardener) who lives in Malvern and we had a few very happy few hours nattering and pottering around the plant highlights of the show. This included seeing Toby Buckland in the flesh as he and 'big chef ' Peter Osborne had a gossip on stage and tried to outdo each other with their top tips for veg growing and cooking. Toby came over as a very relaxed, friendly chap and seemed to have the collective approval of the women in the audience at least.

One of the day's highlights was the produce show - including the mysterious world of giant veg as well as the more usual competitive fare I've started to try for myself. We'd missed the talk on monster veg, so don't have much insight into why growing such monsters is such an attraction, though Helen and I did think we'd spotted a couple of likely proponents of the art. Some of the vegetables were so large, they seemed almost obscene, so it was almost a relief when we found the more 'nomal' classes such as this almost too perfect trug of vegetables.

The RHS Floral Hall revealed further treasures. I was worried that it would be solely flower arrangements, but the majority of the hall was devoted to the small nursery exhibits I've grown to love. I took the opportunity to find out a little more about Nerines. I believe I may have the perfect spot to slot some into my garden - a baked area of gravel at the side of the house. However, I was worried that I might have to settle for a garish pink variety, so I was very pleased to find this more delicate, but gorgeous red N. sarniensis 'Lydia'. We actually revisited the Hall and outside plant sales areas much later in the day, suddenly realising that the plants are much cheaper at this time as the nursery owners don't want to take vast amount of plants home with them. Helen bought some Autumn Ladies-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) and we both succumbed to an autumn flowering Saxifrage. At this point we suddenly twigged that preparations were being made for the bargain big plant sell-off at the end of the day as little raffle tickets were appearing on exhibits all over the hall. Unfortunately 'my' Nerine was just cut stems, but I'd also fallen for some Gladiolus callianthus at the RHS Inner Temple show and the same stand had several pots for sale. So at 4pm I duly presented my raffle ticket for my new treasure to be rescued for me from the back of the stand.

However, my greatest plant to cherish from the day is this Heuchera 'Metallica', raised from seed by Helen herself and given to me when we met. It's a reminder of a great day out and a growing friendship, I hope.

BTW both Helen and Happy Mouffetard have enjoyable accounts of their day at Malvern last weekend.

9 comments:

  1. I think the giant vegetable growing is a guy thing: "Mine's bigger." (I hope I haven't insulted males everywhere with that crass overgeneralization.) Is Helen a heavy metal music fan? I have a secret pipe dream of doing a music themed garden. I hope Heuchera 'Metallica' makes its way over here, as I think I'd like to grow it anyway. BTW - congratulations on your Blotanical award!

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  2. What a fabulous day out. I had to enlarge that trug of vegetables-I'm green- positively Emerald- with envy! No slug damage, no caterpillar munches, and no badger toothmarks. Lovely stuff.

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  3. It looks like you had a wonderful day at Malvern and you saw Mr Buckland in the flesh, the mind boggles. LOL.

    I agree with MMD on the guy thingy. ;-)

    Congrats on winning Best Agrarian Blog at Blotanical. Well done VP, give yourself a pat on the back cause I can't do it from here. :-D

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  4. Glad you had a good time, and also managed to get better photos of Deb's garden than I did. Maybe I'll get to meet you at the Spring show?

    Thank you very much for the prize - it arrived safely today, and a lovely letter too,

    HM

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  5. Hi VP - glad the plants made it safely home. Looks like we have a date with Happy Mouffetard at the spring show.

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  6. I'm jealous, VP, of all the gardening shows you attend--I'm beginning to think the UK is "into" gardening much more than the US. We certainly don't have that many opportunities where I live.
    Congratulations on your Blotanical award--much deserved!

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  7. MMD - thanks for the congrats :) Helen grew H. 'Metallica' from seed, so perhaps we could send some your way? And I think you're right re the veg thing ;)

    TS - I thought they were plastic at first they were that perfect. And yes it was a fab day.

    Yolanda - Tee hee and thanks :)

    HM - so glad it arrived. And yes, it looks like we need to arrange a return for the 3 of us in the Spring :D

    PG - they did, but have been battling against the wind today. Looking forward to the Spring already :D

    Rose - you're right, there are plenty of people in the UK obsessed with gardening. Much more than I am! And many thanks for the congrats :D

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  8. I was there too VP and took a photo of the same trug of veggies and its next door neighbour too ! This was also my first visit to the autumn show. I managed to restrain myself and bought an agapanthus, heuchera and some garlic. We are still in the area and have since enjoyed visits to the Picton Garden - to see the dazzling national collection of asters as well as to Cotswold Garden Flowers. The car will be groaning on the way home :)

    Congratulations on your blog
    award !

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  9. Anna - on the same day or on Saturday. Shame we didn't know we were both going, it would have been great to meet up!

    Looks like a number of us will be there in the Spring...

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