Today marks the launch of the RHS Show season across the UK, the much-anticipated start of RHS Malvern Spring Festival at Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire, running until Sunday 14th May.
Boasting five newly-created show gardens, alongside three feature gardens, this year’s festival has a theme of Gardening For Everyone and offers something for the emerging green fingers right through to plant aficionados.
Top of the award-winning designers for 2023 is Jamie Langlands from Oxford Garden Company, who has scooped not only a Gold Award, a Best Construction and the top accolade of Best Show Garden for The Wildlife Trusts: Wilder Spaces.
Jamie commented: “I am so proud of the extremely dedicated team that helped realise my concept. I hope that my Gold Award-winning garden can encourage people to think differently about ‘waste’ materials and see them as beautiful building blocks for a more sustainable future.”
Visitors can see a beautiful garden and one that is beneficial to the natural world, with its structure, topography, materials and planting playing a fundamental role in increasing biodiversity.
The space incorporates a watercourse that meanders through the plot towards a central pond and section of plant bogging. A pavilion, designed in conjunction with Charlie Luxton, has been constructed from reclaimed RSJs (rolled steel joists) and galvanised steel grating and topped with a living roof to provide a calm space to enjoy the diverse species living in the garden’s varied habitats.
The stunning new award-winning garden is sponsored by The Wildlife Trusts, led by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and Future Nature WTC, BBOWT’s ecological consultancy. These organisations believe gardening has a place in helping nature into recovery and sees significant and lasting value both to wildlife and people.
Jamie was joined by Rick Ford and Kate Gentle who also scooped a Gold accolade for their garden, Bee Positive, Bee Kind, Bee Aware, which is sponsored by Monmouthshire based international charity, Bees For Development.
The space includes areas for relaxation, growing fruit and vegetables, keeping bees and cooking. Key features of the garden include a reclaimed scaffold pergola with a green roof that accommodates a kitchen, reclaimed wooden seating by bee hives, still water in an upcycled trough and raised vegetable beds.
Emily Crowley-Wroe from April House Gardens was awarded a Silver-Gilt for HomeAway, a beautiful space inspired by French family holidays in northwest Brittany. The Cotswolds-based designer has come up with a shared space for wildlife and people to enjoy and hopes visitors will be able to take home ideas for different methods of planting for drier situations and climates.
The design draws upon the landscape beyond and includes a central seating area, planted stony areas that nod to rocky coastal headlands with their cliff-hanging plants, and dusty pathways flanked by tough plants found along dunes and coastal pathways. Formal and domestic gardens found in Brittany and France are echoed in the formal layout of paths and hedges and the blending of coastal hues and exotic planting.
The second Silver-Gilt was taken by Stuart Bugby of Helyers of Hampshire with a garden titled, Expression. The early 20th Century avant-garde art movement known as Cubism, and in particular the use of triangles in many of Pablo Picasso’s paintings, is the inspiration for this garden.
Stuart commented: “I am inspired by many forms of creativity and fusing art and garden design together cohesively will hopefully inspire others. Creativity comes in many forms and can cross over into many different areas. I would like visitors to be inspired to be creative and follow their passion.
“Paintings such as Mediterranean Landscape and Girls with a Boat are among Picasso’s paintings that make use of triangles, although much of his work finds its way back to some form of triangle, which is a key shape of strength and high value in many genres.
“Triangles are not just significant mathematically, they are also fundamental to the way we build our environments both virtual and physical. They are special, and their strength is unrivalled. We loved the idea that a simple shape can be identified with strength and beauty, and this is weaved the whole way through our design.”
A second Gloucestershire based designer, Laura Ashton-Phillips achieved a Silver Award for her Greener Gloucestershire NHS Garden, sponsored by Gloucestershire Managed Services and Gloucestershire County Council and with Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, all set to provide a permanent home for Laura’s second garden for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.
The Show Gardens are the star of the show, alongside the stupendous Floral Marquee, a pioneering plant friendly zone, the brand-new Fire & Feast Stage and Tips & Tricks Theatre, plus the very best celebrity speakers, workshops and demonstrations.
Tickets for RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023 start from just £25 (with under 16s free of charge). For full programme details and to book tickets, see https://www.rhsmalvern.co.uk/