Monday, 31 March 2014

Food Glorious Food

Sharing  food together as a family is very special
Food is a necessity for a happy and healthy life (along with various other facets of course) and this year, the organisers of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival are pulling out all the stops to ensure that it is a key feature of the Show (8th to 11th May). Not only is the Showground going through a metamorphosis to stage the entire Show, TCAS are calling all foodies to come and enjoy what is on offer – a greatly enhanced festival of food.

An enjoyable scene from 2013 - vendors and buyers
Tying in with its links to the to the gardening aspect of the Show, the Food Festival at RHS Malvern will have a whole pavilion dedicated to Grow and Taste. The supply chain between artisan food producers and the source of their ingredients will be laid bare and celebrated. 

From plot to food stall
The ever-popular TV Chef, James Martin, will be headlining the food festival with demonstrations and talks throughout the weekend. “No one can underestimate the links between food and gardening. If you love good food, the chances are you are pretty into where it has come from. The journey from field to plate is so often talked about in the media – however it is the allotment owners and the keen gardeners who are having the most fun with producing their own. I love the fact that RHS Malvern has tied in food to this year’s line up. It’s an inspirational experience for gardeners and foodies alike.”

Rachel Allen
Friday will see busy TV chef, journalist and author of ten best-selling cookery books, Rachel Allen, take to the stage with top TV gardener Christine Walkden. They will both share their expert knowledge from the kitchen and the garden in a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style presentation. Rachel said:  “I am utterly thrilled to be involved with this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival as it is the first year to intertwine food with gardening. There is a great synergy between spades and spoons and in order for us chefs to produce wonderful dishes, the growth and harvest of our produce is so important. The Festival is set to showcase all that is great about food and gardening and I am really looking forward to seeing what’s in store.”

Food Glorious Food
Located at the heart of the Show is the Severn Hall and a new (as yet unnamed) feature designed to create some real ‘theatre and drama’ for visitors. The whole space will be designed by multi-awards winning garden designer, Peter Dowle, and broken into a series of garden rooms. “It is going to be a dining experience not seen at the Spring Festival before ..... we're bringing in some huge plants for the central jungle area with pool , together with a woodland, village green , and farm market showing some of the 'raw' ingredients that will be used by the innovative catering team from Relish. ...... All very exciting and we can't wait to get going !" 

Purchasers eager to buy food from specialist producers
As more details emerge on the increasing links between gardening and food, we will continue to post. I've been attending the Spring Shows since 2006, and writing about them every year, and 2014 is going to be very special. (Author's Note: All images posted are from previous shows. So different will be the new Food Festival at RHS Malvern that as yet we have no representative shots, though I hope to bring you a sneak preview during the build-up.)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Show Garden Variety in 2014

Stages of Show Garden construction for the May 2013 Spring Show

With some awesome themes and evocative Show Gardens scheduled for this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival, and in a new location on the Showground for 2014, I think back to last year’s build-up and the sheer ingenuity that will turn patches of sometimes muddy ground into desirable garden spaces. Whether it is bringing a message home, or creating a garden for the sheer joy of doing so, this year’s themes will captivate as much as in any former year.

Show Garden OS567, 'Shears & Chardonnay': 
Designer Jody & Tim Lidgard
Nine in all, and varying in size and shape, the names alone will inspire, and maybe have one guessing as to hidden meanings. Take ‘Shears and Chardonnay’ – a Woodland garden representing a corner or the end of the country garden where boundaries can often blur and merge with the surrounding lanes and fields in rural Suffolk.

Show Garden OS562, 'Blush': 
Designer Outer Spaces Design Ltd
Or ‘Blush’ – an urban retreat, with somewhere to sit and relax whilst escaping the stress of everyday life. A stepping stone path leads you into the centre of the space, which is a seating area enclosed by rendered walls. A sculptural piece consisting of stainless steel flowers on long stems forming a ‘ball’ is echoed throughout the space with living box balls. 

Show Garden OS565, 'A Fruity Story': 
Designer Richard Wanless Twigs Gardens
Secret spaces appeal to many gardeners faced with the everyday stresses of a busy life, so ‘A Fruity Story’ is sure to appeal. A modern yet informal kitchen garden, it provides somewhere to relax, to enjoy the fruits of one’s labours. Inspired by the new format of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, the designer has incorporated three festival themes in the garden – Food and Drink, Grow and Taste and Heritage.

Show Garden OS566, 'Living with Parkinson's Garden': 
Designer Ruth Gwynn
The ‘Living with Parkinson’s Garden’ try to illustrate what it must be like to live with Parkinson’s disease Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain. It leads to the main symptoms of tremors, slowness of motion and stiffness. Many sufferers experience feelings of frustration that they can no longer do simple everyday tasks easily. So the journey around this garden is intended to be deliberately difficult and frustrating. 

Show Garden OS568, 'Ooooh … It makes me wonder': 
Designer Teresa Rham Groundesigns
'Ooooh …. It makes me wonder’ should resonate with us all, for it reflects upon the one situation which we will all experience sooner or later – death. The garden depicts an imaginary, unearthly place – a location between the physical and metaphysical worlds, whilst at the same time providing a sense of security by replicating the ‘familiar’.

Show Garden OS564, 'The Quiet Garden':
Designers Angie Turner, Kristina Fitzsimmons & Patrick Swan
Raising awareness of the International Quiet Garden Trust whilst illustrating the ability of gardens to encourage rest, spiritual refreshment and meditation is ‘The Quiet Garden’. It is intended to provide spiritual refreshment by stilling the mind with turns in the meditation path requiring concentration – a diversion from daily worries. The Trust is a small charity which spreads its network across the world – gardens could be found in private homes, churches, schools, retreat centres and hospitals.

Show Garden OS563, Bringing Nature Home': 
Designer Graduate Gardens Ltd
'Bringing Nature Home' has been inspired by natural planting and shows how British native wildflowers can be incorporated into a more modern style of garden. The layout has a modern feel, leading out into the natural rural landscape beyond; with the naturalistic planting setting it at ease within the landscape. Wildlife friendly to encourage bees and butterflies, it incorporates a simple reflective pool, with drips of water coming down from the steel joist creating simple ringlets on the water surface.

Show Garden OS561, 'ROSY & Victory': 
Designer Samantha Willis Garden Design
2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War and ‘ROSY & Victory’ is an Edwardian-style design celebrating the traditional English garden, as inspired by the war poet Siegfred Sassoon. 

’’Return to greet me, colours that were my joy, 
Not in the woeful crimson of men slain, 
But shining as a garden; come with the streaming 
Banners of dawn and sundown after rain.” 

It’s a garden within a garden (typical of many a garden of the time, when small garden entities were fashioned within much larger acreage. 

Show Garden OS569, 'En su Casa en La Playa': Designer Villaggio Verde
Transport yourself abroad to the Balearics and the largest Show Garden ever to have been constructed at Malvern. ‘En su Casa en La Playa (At home on the beach)’ is a theatrical representation designed to evoke happy memories of summer and holidays in the sun. At the back of the beach house is a driveway lined with aromatics, and olive trees set into lawn areas.  At the front of the house are specimen rosemary densely planted along with agave, palms, yucca gloriosa and grasses. The beach house itself is surrounded by potted citrus and aromatics and enhanced with climbers. There’s even a paella hut.

Nine green gardens to entice you to Malvern
on any day from 8th-12th May, 2014
So lose yourself amongst these imaginative Show Gardens, remembering their new location near the West Gate, facing the Malvern Hills. And don't forget to book your tickets online to save you time. (You can even now print your tickets once you have booked.)

Friday, 7 March 2014

Welcoming Spring ...

At the heart of the Showground
“Hello again!” It’s so good to be saying that, after the gap between last year’s ‘Malvern Autumn Show’ and this, the first of my ‘RHS Malvern Spring Festival’ posts. And welcome to anyone who is visiting this blog for the first time; we hope you will visit regularly. Committed follower, or first-timer, you will find much to delight and inform you in the posts I have scheduled for the coming weeks between now and the actual show (8th-11th May, 2014).

It may still be grey and damp outside but ‘those hills’ are as beautiful as ever, and before long will overlook the most remarkable transformation. For the former Spring Flower Show at the Three Counties Showground is no more; the show is undergoing a sea-change – the first of which is a name change to the ‘RHS Malvern Spring Festival’. 

Such a wonderful location for a Showground, and
beautiful even on a grey winter's day

A selection of 2013 plant exhibitors
Under this new guise there will be a much wider focus on gardening, growing, show gardens, workshops, celebrity garden ‘know-how’, Plant Pavilions and seed suppliers and of course the RHS Malvern Floral Marquee (5,500 square metres: home for four days to over one hundred top nurseries). Plants and flowers galore – in fact, a plant-a-holic’s paradise. 

Garden-themed eating places will be popping up all over the 
Showground (this was actually part of a 2013 show-garden, 
and very appealing)
An almost equal focus will be placed on FOOD with guest chef James Martin cooking up a feast in a specially designed kitchen garden, and Irish TV chef Rachel Allen also on stage creating dishes using delicious local ingredients. There’s to be a new Food and Drink Pavilion in a huge marquee where you will be able to savour a fine array of regional, national and international delicatessen, and a Food Court in which to enjoy everything from French crepes and spicy fajitas to chutneys, ciders and beer. Plus an Artisan Market offering food from the region’s smaller producers; not to be missed, and very special. The Severn Hall is to become a conservatory-style eating area with a garden café. You can also enjoy a sensual Tea Experience, sampling exotic teas and tisanes from around the world in an authentic oriental garden lounge. Under wraps for now is an area that may well become the focal point of the Show for many.

You will be amazed at how this showground 'field' will be transformed
Plans are still unfolding. As they wing their way to me through cyberspace; it feels as if I am already turning the pages of a new scrapbook – one as yet to be created from which I can cut-and-paste onto this blog. It’s a new era for the Showground. I have been visiting and writing about the Spring shows for almost ten years and have never been so excited. With thousands of photographic images already on file, and various personal hand-made notebooks documenting these past years, I can see that in 2014 it will take me all of the four available days and a very special sketch-book to record the ‘RHS Malvern Spring Festival’.

Now that the Show Previews have begun again, do bookmark this Blog so you can enjoy future posts bringing you even more details.