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6000 visitors attend CountryTastic at Three Counties Showground

CountryTastic, the region’s favourite children’s countryside celebration, welcomed 6000 visitors to Three Counties Showground, Malvern on Thursday 28 March.

The much-loved kids day out, which takes place on the Thursday before Easter every year, is a fundraising event for Three Counties Agricultural Society. The charity event gave younger visitors the chance to learn about the countryside through meeting animals and exploratory play.

CountryTastic opened its gates for 6000 adults and children to get up close and personal with over 100 animals, including pigs, cows, alpacas, shire horses, goats, donkeys and rabbits, with dedicated handlers happy to speak to the crowds all about their different breeds.

Families were not deterred by the weather and popular on the day were the “unicorn rides” by Pampered Ponies, tractor and trailer rides, and dray rides. The Potato Dig saw lots of younger visitors using spades to dig in the earth for potatoes, find out all about different types of potatoes, and win prizes.

Organizers Three Counties filled three large barns with indoor activities. Children got stuck in to arts and crafts activities, tried out new sports skills, and posed for photos on tractors. Upon entering the “Play Barn”, visitors could discover a bouncy tractor slide, exotic animal shows and sing-and-dance extravaganza Monkeys in Motion.

Jane Edwards, Head of Shows at Three Counties, said, “We were delighted the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of our visitors at CountryTastic this year. Our team ensured additional indoor seating was available in our brand-new building Kildare Hall, in addition to a whole host of indoor activities for children to explore. We hope all the families we welcomed on the day had a brilliant day out, and we can’t wait to have them back to Royal Three Counties Show (14-16 June) for more family fun in the summer.”

Visitors are encouraged to dress as their favourite superhero and celebrate Farming Heroes at this year’s CountryTastic on 28 March 2024

CountryTastic, a sell-out children’s event held each Easter at Three Counties Showground, promises a fun-filled day of indoor and outdoor activities where kids can learn all about farming and the countryside through exploratory play, meet farmyard animals, enjoy tractor rides, and explore arts, crafts, nature and sports.

This year, the theme is Farming Heroes, and the organisers are encouraging visitors to come dressed as their favourite superhero! The aim of this year’s theme is to engage the event’s young visitors with the exceptional individuals in the farming community who champion sustainable farming, advocate for mental health, raise awareness about agriculture and preserve the countryside for everyone to enjoy. The theme will weave its magic throughout the event with lots of surprises in store.

Visitors to CountryTastic will experience a super-sized animal offering, with handlers hosting meet and greets with loads of furry friends including Exmoor Ponies, Alpacas, Pygmy Goats, Golden Guernsey Goats, Lancashire Heeler dogs as well as a variety of exotic animals. In this sell-out one-day event, kids can get up close and personal with farmyard animals and learn all there is to know about different breeds. Even “unicorns” will make an appearance at the event, with rides taking place throughout the day.

Head of Shows, Jane Edwards, said “We’re delighted to bring back CountryTastic for another year, this time with a fun superhero twist that will capture the interest of our younger visitors. We certainly think the Farming Heroes taking part in the event possess superhuman powers to do good in the community, and we hope to share that on the day with our visitors.”

For crafty kids, CountryTastic offers an impressive range of arts and crafts activities with take-and-make workshops and experiential play sessions. Eastnor Pottery will be honouring the ‘Farming Heroes’ theme, inviting visitors to make a trug full of cartoon superhero fruit or vegetables, serving as a delightful keepsake to take home. Other activities include, Art Studio Ross and Thomas Trilby, as well as Willow Weaving from Oakey Bear.

“There’s so much for kids to see and do on the day,” comments Jane, with live-action rings showcasing different animal displays to making those lovely memories with children as they meet their favourite animals. It really is cuteness overload at CountryTastic!”

Fans of tractors, farming and getting stuck in will appreciate the Muddy Boots Theatre and the numerous farmyard features at the event. Kids can get involved in a mock animal auction and learn about where food comes from with numerous interactive cookery workshops showcasing everything from baking and chocolate to cheese, all run by amazing individuals from the farming community.

Best of British food, drink and countryside shopping showcase at Royal Three Counties Show 

The Royal Three Counties Show returns to Malvern this summer, to showcase the diverse and delicious food, drink and countryside shopping from across Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire at the Three Counties Showground from 16 – 18 June 2023

From asparagus to apples, potatoes to soft fruit, and wine to cheese, gin, beer and cider, the abundant three counties produce almost everything the UK does as a whole. This year, the Royal Three Counties Show will celebrate the finest produce at its popular Food and Drink Festival, featuring artisan producers, celebrity demos, competitions and delectable samples and sips across a range of experiences.  

A gastronomic weekend awaits in the Food and Drink Theatre, with demos by renowned chefs, cheesemakers and butchers showcasing artistry in every dish. Suki Pantal will add a tantalising twist to her daily demonstrations of spiced Indian cookery. While Ludlow Gin will mix up a range of cocktails sure to make most want to skip dinner and head straight for drinks, including espresso martinis with coffee event experts, Stubborn Rhino

On Friday, Wallers of Ledbury will judge the lamb carcasses competition and demonstrate butchery, offering expert insights into cooking different cuts of lamb at home. Putting the fun into fine dining on Friday and Sunday, Cheltenham’s Restaurant Journey will take visitors on a weird and wonderful journey through Heston-inspired innovation and the chemistry between science and food.  

Sunday will see the legendary England Rugby captain, Celebrity Masterchef winner and Gloucestershire Farmer Phil Vickery joining local cheese producers in the Cookery Theatre to showcase the versatility of this dairy delight. While connoisseurs won’t want to miss the daily cheesemaker slots, where samples of some of the UK’s finest cheeses are on offer. Topping off the Food and Drink Theatre line-up, Cotswold farming favourites, Kaleb Cooper and Adam Henson will be championing local food and drink produce in talks with chefs and cheesemakers.  

The sparkling drinks scene at the show has something to treat every taste too. Celebrating the booming UK wine industry – set to increase by 9.3% in 2023 – for the first time the Three Counties will introduce the English Wine Show, coinciding with English Wine Week (18 – 26 June). Visitors can browse trade stands from wine producers, including Aldwick Estate and Frome Valley Vineyard, and taste some of the finest wine this country has to offer. 

Those who prefer a heartier drink can head to the Cider and Perry Festival and bar in the same marquee, with local producers offering tastings and talks, alongside the International Cider and Perry Championship. Those more partial to sipping something with sparkles can stop by the Champagne Bar, where chilled glasses of bubbles accompany the main arena entertainment. 

And don’t miss another new addition – the Cocktail Lounge! Open on Saturday and Sunday, its talented mixologists will serve up favourite cocktails with flair, while guests enjoy the main arena entertainment from ringside seats. 

A brand-new Royal Parade will offer an exclusive countryside shopping experience, complete with champagne bar, hosting some of the finest luxury countrywear retailers and sporting suppliers, including Honri Hats, Juice Jewellery, Classique Feathers and Gundog Gin.

Over at the Countryside Arena, rural sports enthusiasts can pick up information and advice from BASC and the National Target Sports Association. Plus, there will be a wide range of stands selling small holding sundries, including Timber Flair chicken housing, luxury country homeware from Gloucestershire-based Homely British Comforts and Worcestershire-based Sabel Lane, and animal treats from Herefordshire’s My Pet Treats, and more!

All this as well as a packed programme of family entertainment, including the Red Devils parachute display team and Prince Philip Cup Pony Club Mounted Games, plus over 6,000 animals, including the iconic daily Grand Parade of Livestock, the National Rare & Minority Breeds Show on Sunday, spectacular show jumping and fascinating sheep dog and gun dog displays. For the full programme, see https://www.royalthreecounties.co.uk/

Jane Edwards, Head of Shows at Three Counties Showground, said: “The food and drink festival at this year’s Royal Three Counties Show features more food, drink and shopping experiences and entertainment than ever before. From the English Wine Show and Cider and Perry Festival to competitions and tradestands featuring over 80 artisan producers, delicacies and tantalising street food, the show celebrates the very best of British produce and promises a true feast for the senses and wonderful family day out!” 

Tickets are on sale now, costing just £23 in advance and children under 16 are free of charge. To see the full programme and book tickets visit www.royalthreecounties.co.uk or call 01684 584 924. 

RHS Malvern celebrates gardening excellence on the launch of RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023

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/

Father’s Day Weekend: Countryside Adventures at Royal Show

Get ready for an action-packed weekend of family fun, excitement and, of course, plenty of animals at the Royal Three Counties Show, taking place at Three Counties Showground from 16 – 18 June 2023. And don’t forget to bring Dad along on Father’s Day for an extra special treat!

The Royal Three Counties Show is one of the UK’s largest livestock and equine shows, so a highlight for many visitors is the impressive daily Grand Parade of Livestock in the Main Arena. Be inspired by the young handler classes where the next generation of farmers get the chance to show their cows, sheep, pigs and goats.

Families will also have the unique opportunity to get close to some of the finest livestock from across the UK as they’re prepped for the show ring and make the most of opportunities to chat to farmers about their animals. Similarly, the Fur, Feather and Farm area is an absolute must-visit where little ones can make friends with adorable alpacas and goats. The Bees and Honey area will provide fascinating live bee demonstrations, during which bees will be tracked as they fly off in search of pollen from the showground and then return during the day.

There will be horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes taking part in showing, show jumping and demonstrations throughout the weekend. The new Stable Yard area will provide children with the chance to get up close to ponies, take part in interactive workshops relating to pony care and learn more about careers in the equestrian industry. The Pony Racing Authority will also set up Equicizer machines on the Friday, giving children and school groups the chance to experience the thrill of race riding on mechanical horses.

For those looking for high-octane entertainment, the Main Arena will host an array of exciting entertainment across the weekend, including the remarkable under 18s motorcycle display team (the IMPS) on Saturday and Sunday, Paul Hannam’s Quad Bike display team on Friday, and the ever-popular British Army Parachute Display Team, the Red Devils. Make sure you also drop in to watch some fast and furious Sheep Shearing and cheer on lumberjacks and lumberjills as they take part in the thrilling 2023 STIHL British TIMBERSPORTS® Championships.

Head to the Countryside Arena and be wowed by the impressive skills on display from the sheepdogs and gundogs, admire the majestic heavy horses or have-a-go at a fun fishing and fly-tying sessions. The exhilarating display from Hawkeye Falconry promises to have everyone on the edge of their seats, as highly trained birds of prey showcase their natural hunting prowess and aerial acrobatics. Little ones will love having a go at an obstacle course while driving in their very own mini Land Rover, while nearby, families can enjoy watching the gundog scurry competitions.

Expect to hear choruses of “aww” at Rosie’s Mini Pony Show, returning to the Royal Three Counties Show due to popular demand. Sprinkled with charming comedy and magic, these lovable miniature horses are sure to prance and trot their way into the hearts of both young and old.

The ultimate showcase of skill and precision awaits in the blacksmithing area, where farriers from all over the UK compete head-to-head in the highly anticipated Farrier Championships. Watch in awe as sparks fly and the heat intensifies with each second, as talented farriers race against the clock to forge the perfect horseshoe and expertly shoe horses and ponies in a true test of strength and craftsmanship.

Thrill-seekers can then head to Adventure Avenue where sports including high-energy Lacrosse workshops will see visitors learn new skills from experienced coaches – with lots of laughter, healthy competition and opportunities to show off some sporting talent.

Strap on your space helmet and prepare for take-off at the Royal Navy, RAF and Army help STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) enthusiasts take an unforgettable adventure through compressed air rocket launchers, buoyancy experiments and virtual reality demonstrations.

The thrills continue as Savage Skills, the UK’s most accomplished freestyle mountain bike stunt team, offers adrenaline-pumping, have-a-go cycling to test visitors’ skills in a safe and controlled environment.

Visitors can also get in touch with their wild side at the Really Rural Famous Five: Survival Secrets area, where they’ll learn all about shelter building, fire-making, water sourcing, plant and animal identification, and navigating with a compass. And be sure to stop by the Midlands Air Ambulance exhibit to try out CPR training and explore a decommissioned helicopter with the crew.

Education takes an exciting new form at the Royal Three Counties Show, with the LEAF Education exhibit offering interactive activities spanning food and farming on Friday, plus a brand-new Farming Experience Area will take visitors through the Story of Wool, linking the sheep and shearing at the show to have-a-go wool spinning sessions and the chance to learn about different breeds. Higher education providers such as the Royal Agricultural University and Hartpury College will also be on hand to chat about further education courses for those interested in future careers within the agricultural sector.

The new Future of Farming Theatre will host cutting edge farming business talks and will give visitors a glimpse into farming and land-based industries as well as featuring special guest interviews, panel discussions, and book signings with a range of experts, including Clarkson’s Farm funnyman Kaleb Cooper, Ally Hunter Blair and Adam Henson.

You’ll also be able to learn more about the Young Farmers Club, and how to get involved, as various clubs from across the UK will compete in tug-of-war, metalwork, woodwork, Bake Offs, Floral Art, Needlework, Morris dancing and Scarecrow making at the show.

Jane Edwards, Head of Shows, said: “We’re thrilled to showcase the very best of the British countryside at this year’s Royal Three Counties Show. From breath-taking displays and adorable animals to exciting competitions, live music and lots of local food and drink, there’s something for everyone to enjoy – on Father’s Day weekend, no less!

“We’re particularly excited to see young people getting involved in agriculture and rural life through the Young Farmers Club competitions. It’s important to encourage the next generation to appreciate and care for our countryside, and we hope this year’s show inspires them to do just that.”

To find out more about the exciting family fun on offer at this year’s Royal Three Counties Show, see https://www.royalthreecounties.co.uk/whats-on/family-activities/

Tickets are on sale now, costing just £23 in advance and children under 16 are free of charge. To book, visit www.royalthreecounties.co.uk or call 01684 584 924.

Eight exciting highlights you won’t want to miss at this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival!

RHS Malvern Spring Festival, the magnificent four-day gardening and outdoor extravaganza held annually at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, will bring a burst of seasonal colour when it returns from 11 – 14 May 2023.

This year’s festival will be brimming with immersive new experiences, engaging talks and live demonstrations from horticultural experts, a cornucopia of colourful flora and fauna, exciting entertainment for all ages, and, of course, a star-studded line-up of special guests, well-known TV presenters, authors and celebrity chefs.

Here are eight highlights you won’t want to miss at this year’s Festival:

  1. Enjoy talks from horticultural experts and special guests

This year the Festival Theatre will host another stellar line-up of TV gardening personalities and leading horticulturalists, including BBC Gardeners’ World presenters Arit Anderson, Frances Tophill, Sue Kent and Adam Frost, who between them will share advice on everything from affordable gardening to gardening for a changing climate.

Well-known gardener and TV presenter, Alan Titchmarsh MBE and community gardener and talented designer, Tayshan Hayden-Smith will also join the Festival Theatre line-up, which this year will be hosted by established garden and landscape designer, broadcaster and Gardeners’ World magazine columnist, James Alexander-Sinclair.

  • Explore inspirational show and feature gardens

‘Gardening for Everyone’ is the key theme of the 2023 Festival, with this year’s much-anticipated collection of RHS-judged show gardens and experiential feature gardens set to appeal to a wide variety of people.

Show organisers are keen for visitors to feel enriched and inspired to make the most of their outside spaces, regardless of their gardening expertise and size of their plot, and for the event to maintain its reputation for welcoming both established and newer designers, and encouraging creative freedom.

Visitors can look forward to a varied and eye-catching range of stunning RHS-judged show gardens that are classical, contemporary or conceptual in nature, alongside innovative new experiential feature gardens from big names in the world of horticulture.

  • Pick up colourful plants or bulbs to transform your outdoor space

The Plant Village and Pavilions will provide a one-stop gardening emporium to stock up on British grown plants, flowers and bulbs from some of the UK’s best nurseries. Conveniently, visitors can leave their purchases in the complimentary Plant Creche while they set off to enjoy the rest of the festival, and porters will carry purchases back to the car free of charge.

The impressive 190m long RHS Floral Marquee, filled with beautiful displays from over 50 of the UK’s best nurseries, is another excellent opportunity to shop for unusual plants and striking flowers. Be sure to pause and admire the exceptional display of Auricula from Hillview Hardy Plants – the new RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023 Master Grower. Experts will be on hand to provide ideas and guidance if needed, plus offer handy care tips for planting and growing in your own outdoor space.

  • Learn how to grow your own at home

Continuing this year’s theme of ‘Gardening for Everyone’, a new Bloom & Grow Area will share tips on growing flowers, vegetables, herbs and other edible plants at home or in an allotment.

The new Bloom & Grow Theatre, hosted by horticultural broadcaster, author and wellbeing advocate, Ellen Mary, will feature interesting and inspiring talks from special guests, leading floral designer Jonathan Moseley, horticulturalist Tom Leonard (a.k.a The Drag Queen Gardener), Ben Newell (content creator and founder of Worcester Terrariums) and Ann-Marie Powell (gold medal winning garden designer).

A new Grow, Gather & Sow feature garden (designed by Jon Wheatley) will demonstrate how food and flowers can be grown at home, regardless of the amount of space available. It will feature a series of fruit trees surrounded by raised beds and containers planted with an array of vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruit.

The Potting Shed Theatre – a new addition to this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival – will be hosted by expert horticulturalist Martin Fish. Located within the Floral Marquee, Martin will be joined throughout the weekend by gardening professionals to share specialist knowledge in a series of interesting and informative sessions, including Rob Hardy from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Vicky Fox from Plantago and Steve Hickman from Hoyland Agapanthus.

  • Pick up some handy cost-saving and sustainability tips

A brand-new Tips & Tricks Area will present ways to creatively upcycle or reuse everyday items to make stylish, clever features to use at home or in an outdoor space, plus plenty of handy cost-saving and sustainability tips.

A new Tips & Tricks Theatre will be hosted by skilled designer and TV presenter Max McMurdo, who will demonstrate how to create your own hydroponic herb planter. Max will be joined by content creator Adam Kirtland (View from the Potting Bench) who will share clever ways to use a wooden pallet to create features for your own garden, while Rupert Keys (from TASK Academy) will provide advice on landscaping for beginners. For those who enjoy a bouquet of cut flowers, Jonathan Moseley will share his top ten tips for making your flowers last longer.

  • Admire the giant floral Coronation Crown

In celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday 6th May there will be a magnificent giant floral crown set on a podium within the Floral Marquee. The impressive structure will be decorated by Jonathan Moseley, one of the UK’s leading floral designers, and will feature British grown flowers donated by nurseries located in Floral Marquee.

  • Enjoy some outstanding local food and drink

A new Fire & Feast Theatre will celebrate the joy of alfresco cooking, co-hosted by content creator and BBQ cook, Adam Purnell (a.k.a The Shropshire Lad) and cooking expert and founder of Otter Farm, Mark Diacono. Broadcaster and TV presenter, Gregg Wallace MBE, will join them to share his methods for cooking delicious spatchcock chicken and tasty tikka paneer kebabs. Skilled chefs from Harts Barn Cookery School (located in the Forest of Dean) will share tips for cooking up a feast at home, while local legend Anthony ‘Murf’ Murphy, one of the founders of the The Beefy Boys, will show audiences how to create a show-stopping burger at home.

After working up an appetite at the Fire & Feast Theatre, visitors can soak up the festival atmosphere and live music over at the Festival Green, where an exceptional range of regional food and drink producers will be on hand to sate your appetite. Tuck in to authentic Spanish dishes from Su Casa Cuisine, fresh wood-fired pizza from Bare Bones Pizza, American style burgers from The Beefy Boys or a scoop (or two) of Bennetts ice cream. Delicious plant-based options include Mookies Indian Street Food, the Middle Eastern-inspired Handmade Natural Food and Goodness Gracious Healthy Foods.

Over in the Food and Drink Pavilion, you’ll find numerous producers from across the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, including Croome Cuisine, Bow Brook Farm, Pimp Your Mayo and Malvern Gin selling tasty treats to take home.

  • Explore the new Book Tent and browse the latest horticultural ‘must read’ titles 

Another new feature at this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival is the Book Tent, hosted by local independent book shop Rossiter’s Books, selling a carefully curated selection of titles, including publications by some of the Festival’s very own special guests.

Authors will be doing book signings throughout the weekend, including Frances Tophill (Thursday at the Festival Theatre), Adam Frost (Friday – Sunday at the Festival Theatre), Ellen Mary (Thursday and Friday at the Bloom & Grow Theatre), and Mark Diacono (Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the Bloom & Grow Theatre).

RHS Malvern Spring Festival will be at Three Counties Showground from 11 – 14 May 2023. Tickets start from just £25 (with under 16s free of charge) and can be booked at https://www.rhsmalvern.co.uk/

New, unique and quirky experiences at RHS Malvern Spring Festival this May

RHS Malvern Spring Festival, in association with My Pension Expert, will kick off the new 2023 RHS Show Season at Three Counties Showground from 11 14 May 2023, welcoming over 100,000 visitorswith a host of exciting new features, unique experiences and quirky highlights to enjoy.

RHS Malvern Spring Festival has a stellar reputation as the trailblazer of the RHS floral show season each year, and the 2023 programme will not disappoint. The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Gardening for Everyone’ and, in celebration of this, many new areas, stages and features have been added to make gardening and horticulture open and accessible to all, while encouraging sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. A brand-new Planet Friendly Gardening ‘3P Free’ Zone (Plastic, Pesticide and Peat free), created by Edibleculture, will give visitors the opportunity to trade in plastic pots from plants bought at the Festival for a compostable and plantable version, for free! All plastic pots collected at the Festival will be recycled.

A new Bloom & Grow Area will provide handy tips on growing vegetables, flowers, herbs and other edible plants at home or in an allotment, plus the chance to create your own lip balm or hand cream under the expert guidance of Cotswold Remedies. The accompanying Bloom & Grow Theatre will be hosted by horticultural broadcaster, author and wellbeing advocate, Ellen Mary. Joining Ellen over the long weekend will be Jonathan Moseley, one of the UK’s leading floral designers (sharing top tips on how to make your flowers last longer at home), horticulturalist Tom Leonard (a.k.a The Drag Queen Gardener), Ben Newell (content creator and founder of Worcester Terrariums) and Ann-Marie Powell (gold medal winning garden designer). Mark Diacono, author, cooking expert and founder of Otter Farm, will give a fascinating talk on foraging and fermenting (Friday & Sunday), while BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Arit Anderson will share her expert insight on why a diverse garden is a happy place (Saturday & Sunday). Community gardener and designer, Tayshan Hayden-Smith will explain why empowering, introducing and embracing young people and communities into horticulture is so vital (Saturday).

The brand-new Tips & Tricks Area will be the place to go to learn how to creatively upcycle or reuse items to make stylish features for your own outdoor space, plus lots of handy cost-saving and sustainability tips. The new Tips & Tricks Theatre will be hosted by skilled designer/upcycler and TV presenter Max McMurdo, who will demonstrate how to make a hydroponic herb planter at home. Max will be joined throughout the weekend by horticultural content creator Adam Kirtland (View from the Potting Bench) who will be demonstrating some handy garden DIY using just a wooden pallet, while Rupert Keys from TASK Academy (leading landscaping industry trainers) will share clever tips on how to use rainwater in your outdoor space.

This year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival charity partner is St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester. In celebration of this year’s focus on sustainability, St Richard’s has been running a campaign to collect unwanted garden tools to be upcycled and their finished creations will be on sale at the Festival, alongside a selection of outdoor furniture, garden and cookery books, garden wear, plants and pots. Any revenue raised from RHS Malvern Spring Festival-owned items in Sunday’s 4pm sell-off will also be donated to the charity.

A highlight for many visitors, and an integral feature of the RHS shows, will be admiring this year’s five new stunning RHS-judged show gardens alongside three unique, experiential feature gardens. Be transported to a tropical paradise of waterfalls, bridges and immersive exotic planting, not to mention a tropical bar, in the stunning Leaf Tropicana feature garden (by Peter Dowle from Leaf Creative) and feel the sand beneath your feet. Take a moment to chill out in a deckchair beside the colourful beach huts of the Coast to Country feature garden (by Villaggio Verde), RHS Malvern Spring Festival’s first ever beach-themed garden.The popular School Challenge Gardens will also return for 2023 with a new theme ‘Bring your favourite book to life’, inspiring the next generation to explore their creativity through horticulture.

The Potting Shed Theatre – new to RHS Malvern Spring Festival in 2023 – will be hosted by expert horticulturalist Martin Fish. Located within the Floral Marquee, a range of green fingered professionals, including Vicky Fox from Plantagoggo, BBC Gardener’s World Arit Anderson, Rob Hardy from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and Stella Exley from Hare Spring Cottage Plants, will be on hand to share specialist gardening knowledge in a series of interesting and informative sessions.

For food-lovers, the new Fire & Feast Theatre will be a highlight of the weekend. Hosted by Mark Diacono and BBQ and open fire cook, Adam Purnell (a.k.a The Shropshire Lad), visitors can pick up ideas to improve their alfresco cooking with live demonstrations from talented chefs, outstanding local food producers and special guests. Broadcaster and TV presenter, Gregg Wallace MBE, will share his methods for cooking delicious spatchcock chicken and tasty tikka paneer kebabs, while local legend Anthony ‘Murf’ Murphy, one of the founders of the region’s popular and award-winning group of restaurants, The Beefy Boys, will share top tips on how to whip up your own ultimate burger at home.  There will also be a variety of sensational food stalls located across the showground serving up delicious meals and snacks to suit every taste and a range of dietary requirements, alongside some of the best local, artisan food and drink from across the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.

Visitors to this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival will be in for a treat with a host of exciting new dining options. Pre-book an exclusive dining experience in the idyllic new Taste Pods, offering an hour-and-a-half of relaxation, sophisticated nibbles and 360-degree views for groups of up to 6 people. Set against a glorious backdrop of rolling Malvern hills, these transparent, heated domes will serve delicious pastries, cakes and charcuterie alongside a range of soft and alcoholic drinks. The new Bluebell Bistro will combine impeccable service and top-class fare, with a tantalising two-course lunch menu available to pre-book from Hereford’s finest, A to Zest. Tables for the new Taste Pods and Bluebell Bistro can be booked in advance at www.rhsmalvern.co.uk .Visitors can also enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean at the new Greek Taverna, serving up a range of snacks and lunches, including halloumi wraps, salads, pastries and mezze boxes, alongside a relaxed and uplifting atmosphere.

For those visiting with little ones, the Discovery Dome will host plenty of free family fun for all ages across the weekend, with arts and crafts sessions, science-based activities, workshops and entertainment. Weave some magic with Oakey Bear and create beautiful willow sculptures of well-loved literary characters, including Paddington Bear. Jonathan Moseley will be on hand to help families of all ages create their own magical floral wands (11am Saturday and 1.30pm Sunday). The University of Worcester will run insightful activities about unseen garden inhabitants and how rivers are created. There will also be workshops to make your own bird feeder with Wyldwood Willow, create and paint pottery tiles with Eastnor Pottery and pick up some impressive circus skills with Thomas Trilby.

Another exciting new feature at this year’s festival will be book signings by some of the festival’s special guests after talks given in the different theatres across the showground, including BBC Gardeners’ World presenters, authors and Festival Theatre guests, Frances Tophill (Thursday) and Adam Frost (Friday – Sunday), Bloom & Grow Theatre host Ellen Mary (Thursday and Friday), and Fire & Feat Theatre host Mark Diacono (Thursday, Friday and Sunday). There will also be a book tent run by local independent business, Rossiter Books.

Tickets for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023 start from just £25 (with under 16s free of charge) and can be purchased online now at https://www.rhsmalvern.co.uk/

Malvern Show | Royal Three Counties Show 2023

Are you looking for a fun-filled family day out in the beautiful British countryside? Look no further than the Royal Three Counties Show, held annually at Three Counties Showground in Malvern. This agricultural Malvern show is a celebration of farming, food, and family entertainment, and promises to be a memorable experience for all who attend.

Malvern Show – The Royal Three Counties Show 2023

Running from the 16th – 18th June 2023, the Royal Three Counties Show is a highlight of the Three Counties events calendar. With 90,000 visitors over three days, it’s an opportunity to mingle with a diverse and influential audience.

One of the key features of the show is the Food Festival, which showcases the best of British food and drink. From artisan cheeses and homemade preserves to craft beers and local wines, there’s something for everyone’s taste buds at the county show. The Food Festival also includes cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs and foodie experts, so you can learn how to prepare delicious meals using locally-sourced ingredients.

For those interested in agriculture and rural life, the Machinery in Action Demonstration is not to be missed at the Malvern show. This interactive exhibit brings farming to life, with demonstrations of traditional skills and techniques such as sheep-shearing and milking. You can also learn about the latest advances in farming technology and see how they’re changing the industry at the county show.

Another highlight of the show is the Grand Parade of Livestock, where you can see some of the finest animals from across the region. From prize-winning cows and sheep to rare breeds of pigs and goats, it’s a chance to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful creatures in the British countryside at the Malvern show.

Find out more about what we have on in our county show!

But the Royal Three Counties Show is more than just an agricultural exhibition. There’s also plenty of family entertainment to enjoy, including live music, circus performers, and a children’s play area. You can also browse the many stalls selling handmade crafts, jewellery, and other unique gifts at the county show.

And let’s not forget about the stunning location. Malvern is a picturesque town nestled in the Malvern Hills, with breathtaking views and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. After a day at the county show, why not take a stroll through the town or explore the surrounding countryside?

Overall, the Royal Three Counties Show is a fantastic way to experience the best of British rural life. With its focus on farming, food, and family entertainment, it offers something for everyone at the Malvern show. So why not mark your calendar for the 16th – 18th June 2023 and join the thousands of visitors who flock to Malvern every year for this unique and unforgettable event? We guarantee you won’t regret it! Visit our website for more information.

Show Gardens for RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023 start to take shape

Show Garden Designers and Landscape Contractors began the build of their beautiful show gardens for RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023 yesterday, on a day known as Breaking Ground Day.

The day symbolises the start of a journey to shape the first Show Gardens to be judged by the RHS during the floral show season.

This year there will be five show gardens for visitors to enjoy:

  • Rick Ford and Katie Gentle’s Bee Positive Bee Kind Be Aware garden will be sponsored by Monmouth-based Bees for Development
  • Laura Ashton Phillips’ has designed the Greener Gloucestershire NHS Garden sponsored by Gloucestershire Managed Services and Gloucestershire County Council
  • Emily Crowley-Wroe will be creating the HomeAway garden sponsored by Task Academy and built by JG Landscaping
  • Stuart Bugby, senior designer at Helyers of Hampshire has designed the Expression garden built by the Helyers of Hampshire team.
  • Jamie Langlands, Lead designer at Oxford Garden design will be creating the Wilder Spaces garden sponsored by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and Future Nature WTC, the Trust’s ecological consultancy, and built by Oxford Garden Design

There will also be three experiential Feature Gardens at RHS Malvern Spring Festival, including:

  • Leaf Tropicana designed by multi-gold medal winner Peter Dowle of Leaf Creative 
  • Coast to Country designed by the multi-gold medal winning team at Worcestershire-based tree specialist Villaggio Verde
  • Grow, Gather and Sow designed by award-winning designer Jon Wheatley

If you’d like to see the completed stunning Show and Feature Gardens for yourself, RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023 will be held Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 May 2023.

Tickets start from just £25 (with under 16s free of charge). For full programme details and to book tickets, see https://www.rhsmalvern.co.uk/

Favourite farming celebrities and unique animal encounters announced for Royal Three Counties Show 2023

Malvern’s most beloved annual family event returns to Three Counties Showground this summer with more celebrity guests and farmyard friends to delight animal lovers of all ages. Hailed as one of the UK’s biggest celebrations of the great British countryside, the Royal Three Counties Show offers three days of animal encounters, spectacular displays and expert agricultural insights from 16 – 18 June 2023.

Well-known TVpresenter and Cotswold farming royalty Adam Henson returns as show ambassador to regale visitors in the Farming Village, where more than 6,000 animals will feature, with the crowning of cattle, sheep, goat and pig champions across 900 classes, over 50 rare and minority breeds (the UK’s largest collection) and 15 national breed shows.

The Future of Farming Zone, will welcome returning Clarkson’s Farm funnyman, author and cider connoisseur, Kaleb Cooper, on Saturday 17 June; adding to its line-up of informative talks, Q&A sessions, on topics such as careers in agriculture, diversification and insights into the latest cutting-edge technology in food and farming.

Kaleb Cooper commented: “Royal Three Counties Show in Malvern is one of my favourite events in the farming calendar.  To talk all things farming and, of course, indulge my passion for farm machinery, is the perfect way to spend a weekend.”

Other special guests confirmed for the weekend include award-winning food writer, Mark Diacono, hosting the Food & Drink Theatre, Suki Pantal, aka Suki’s Curries and Spices, sharing ‘the real taste of India’ and Phil Vickery MBE DL, ex England rugby captain, Gloucestershire farmer and winner of Celebrity Masterchef. Rising social media star and Weir End Farmer, Ally Hunter-Blair will also be making an appearance at the show.

Encompassing eight spacious grass rings in the Equine Village, as well as the Main Arena, the Royal Three Counties Show is nothing short of an equine enthusiast’s dream. From fast and furious scurry driving and breath-taking showjumping, to exceptional horse and pony showing classes spanning in-hand shires, ridden hunters, retrained racehorses and mountain and moorland ponies – and 51 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers – there’s so much squeezed into just three days.

Not forgetting fast-paced ponies bounding around the Main Arena on Saturday and Sunday, when some of the top Prince Philip Cup Pony Club Mounted Games teams from across the country present historic calvary techniques, in the form of relay races, with plenty of props and obstacles to increase the intensity and fun. Plus, the farrier championships will be hotly contested, where sparks will fly as farriers from across the UK craft different types of horseshoes and shoe horses and ponies against the clock.

If you’re looking for a more up-close-and-personal introduction to our equine friends, Pony Clubs from across Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire will offer interactive demos and activities on pony care in the all-new Stable Yard.  There will also be opportunities to learn about different equestrian careers.

A sure-fire family draw, the more intimate displays within the Countryside Arena will welcome the return of Rosie’s charming mini pony show and the exhilarating Hawkeye Falconry display, and play host to sheepdog and gundog demonstrations, magnificent heavy horses and a have-a-go fishing skills area. The popular Fur, Feather and Farm area is a family favourite,complete withfriendly alpacas and goats and information about the amazing role bees play in our ecosystem and how they produce honey.

Livestock is a huge part of the Royal Three Counties Show and, this year, there will be no less than 35 showing rings featuring some of the finest cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and alpacas in the country. In addition, the National Rare and Minority Breeds Show on Sunday 18 June offers a fascinating insight into the conservation and preservation of these animals, while the ever-popular Grand Parade, taking place daily in the Main Arena, is a highlight of the show, particularly as it often includes all generations of farmers showing their livestock.

Tickets are on sale now, costing just £23 in advance and children under 16 are free of charge. To see the full programme and book tickets visit www.royalthreecounties.co.uk or call 01684 584 924.

CountryTastic 2023: Interactive Learning & Countryside Fun

CountryTastic, the West Midland’s biggest outdoor Easter event was a top day out this year, with over 5,000 visitors to the sold out event.

Jam packed with interactive learning experiences, farmyard friends and oodles of countryside fun, CountryTastic is always an unforgettable and immersive day out.

Kids and their parents enjoyed the wonders of the British countryside through a variety of animal, food and science-based interactive features.

New for 2023, an exotic animals zone for children to learn about and handle plus a chance to get up close to animatronic dinosaurs and learn more about the habits and diets of those that once roamed the earth!

The ‘funtastic day out, was filled with furry friends, including the Paw Parade display ring dedicated to our four legged friends and the Animal Antics zone, featuring creatures of all shapes and sizes. Returning for 2023 was the ever-popular unicorn and horse and cart rides.

There was so much for young visitors to see and do at this fantastic day out, from craft activities to bushcraft skills and den making to hands on animal encounters.

With thanks to our main sponsor, RGS Worcester Family of Schools and our show sponsors, Royal Agricultural University and Bredon School.

Celebrate National Gardening Week at RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May

National Gardening Week is on its way (1 – 7 May 2023): seven days when the nation celebrates the wealth of benefits to be enjoyed from growing plants and being in green spaces. Fittingly this year it falls during the week of the Coronation of HM King Charles III, who is well known for his love of horticulture, and also just a few days ahead of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival (11 – 14 May).

Held at the Three Counties Showground, RHS Malvern Spring Festival is the perfect place for new and experienced gardeners alike: there will be inspiration-packed show and feature gardens to admire, a varied programme of live talks featuring green-fingered celebrities and various specialists, and an unmissable opportunity to come and stock up with bulbs and plants from the Floral Marquee and Plant Arcade and seek face-to-face advice from some of the UK’s top nurseries.

Every Festival features a ‘Master Grower’, a scheme created by the Royal Horticultural Society that shines the spotlight on the UK’s finest specialist nurseries, and this year the accolade goes to Shropshire-based Hillview Hardy Plants. John and Ingrid Millington and their daughter Sarah have no fewer than two National Collections of Auricula and will be bringing in excess of 640 different cultivars for customers to buy. During the festival they will be showing modern ways to display these dainty-looking flowers and providing advice for those keen to grow them at home.

Ingrid Millington of Hillview Hardy Plants explains: “Auriculas aren’t difficult to keep at all. People think they’re going to be difficult and mollycoddle them, but it’s really not necessary. Generally, auriculas don’t like the summer sun or winter rain, and they need lots of air movement.”

Hampshire-based Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants will be back for their 31st RHS Malvern Spring Festival with plenty of beautiful spring-flowering perennials, all raised in a 100% peat-free growing media. Rosy and Rob Hardy are used to giving advice on ‘the right plants for the right place’, helping customers to make good choices for their soil types, location, degree of sun and shade and other needs.

Rob Hardy, of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, said: “We love the festival due to its beautiful setting with the backdrop of the Malvern Hills. We’re always made very welcome.”

Three new cultivars are set to appear within a display of camassias created by Hare Spring Cottage Plants. National Collection holder Stella Exley is keen to spread the word as to how easy these starry flowers are to grow and naturalise, especially as slugs and snails don’t make a meal of them. Stella says coming to Malvern is a highlight of her year, especially with the show’s overriding sense of calmness, which she attributes to exhibitors and visitors having the space to move around. The most common advice she’s asked is when to lift and divide established clumps – something she undertakes during July and August when plants are dormant.

Rose specialists CK Jones from Chester are often the people to whom customers turn for advice on pruning, especially the thorny question of how hard to go and what time of year. Feeding, watering, where to plant and whether a particular cultivar will thrive in a pot are also familiar questions.

Keith Jones and his team will be bringing the stunning rose ‘You’re So Special’ to Malvern and is confident visitors will fall in love with its smoky orange rosettes, which bloom from June to November. This plant reaches around 18 inches (45cm) and is ideal placed towards the front of a border or in a pot. According to Keith, colours that are that little bit different appear to be the ‘in thing’ this spring, so he’ll be bringing along cultivars such as ‘Koko Loko’, ‘Honey Dijon’, ‘Mokarosa’ and ‘Minerva’ too.

Keith Jones of CK Jones commented: “I always say, ‘if you need information, come to Malvern and talk to the people who do the growing.”

Another nursery with something new to bring to Malvern is Chrysanthemums Direct, which will be introducing the Branpetit and Bransound range of ‘pot mums’ from the German breeder Brandkamp this year. For Martyn, who has been coming to Malvern since 1987, chrysanthemums are well worth the effort of growing.

Martyn Flint, of Chrysanthemums Direct, said: “They are great plants for containers and will flower in September and October. The main question we are asked is, ‘are chrysanthemums hardy?’ The answer is that they are perennial, but may need protection over the winter, especially from getting too wet – so plant in well-drained soil or grow in pots and move into a cold greenhouse overwinter.”

“Chrysanthemums have the reputation of being hard to grow, but that is not the case, and they will give lots of colour late in the year when there are not many other plants in flower in the garden.”

For some gardeners, lilies are the star, and often the fragrance, of summer, and Harts Nursery from Cheshire ensures visitors to Malvern are spoilt for choice. And after winning the EH Trophy for their display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022, the Hart family have rightfully earned themselves a reputation for their stunning arrays of blooms. New plants they’ll be bringing to the festival include the double roselily ‘Olympia’, which is white and frilly, and the deep pink ‘Petronella’. Choosing the best lily for certain soil types is often a question the Hart family is asked at shows, along with advice on combating the dreaded lily beetle.

Victoria Hart of Harts Nursery explains: “The roselilies are proving extremely popular at the moment. They’re full of fragrance and just so pretty; they make a great addition to pots or can be used as a cut flower.”

To see an eye-catching ‘Siberian Tiger’, along with several other variegated hostas such as ‘June’, ‘Autumn Frost’, ‘Catherine’ and ‘Firm Line’, visitors will need to head over to the Brookfield Plants’ display. Kent-based grower Paul Harris travels to Europe to procure stunning new cultivars and says Malvern is his favourite show to show them off. He’s also delighted to pass on advice, especially those looking to control slugs.

Paul Harris, of Brookfield Plants, commented: “I favour organic methods personally, such as nematodes or placing a barrier around a pot – WD40 oil is good.”

Priorswood Clematis will be bringing along a number of its evergreens that flower in winter or early spring, with sizes ranging from container plants to those big enough to cover a garage wall or pergola. These can be grown on their own or mixed with other clematis for an extra-long flowering period. The nursery stocks more than 400 cultivars at its Hertfordshire base and will have plenty of advice on getting new additions off to a great start.

RHS Malvern Spring Festival caters for all kind of gardeners, including those with ponds who are in for a treat in the shape of Menyanthes trifoliata, commonly known as bogbean. These produce impressive flowers followed by leaves that create a rafting effect that’s a perfect habitat for frogs and newts.

Bogbeans will be just one of the attractions on the Lincolnshire Pond Plants stand. Others include the oxygenating water shamrock Marsilea quadrifolia, the floating leaves of which are often used by newts to protect their egg and emergent species such as iris, which create the right environment for nymphs when they’re transforming into dragonflies.

Dawn Fisher and her team came to Malvern for the first-time last year and enjoyed the warm and welcoming atmosphere. She’s expecting to be asked for her advice on preventing green water and blanket weed, both of which can occur when nutrient levels are too high. Growing numbers of people are also keen to learn more about creating the right environment for encourage wildlife, with rafting, emergent and oxygenating plants all playing key roles.

Those who enjoy growing plants indoors will no doubt head for Southfield Nurseries to see what’s new. Linda Goodey and her team are hoping to bring along a new hybrid of the graptopetalum succulent and have their fingers crossed it will be in flower and looking its best.

Meanwhile they’ll be making sure they have plenty of plants that are already proving popular in 2023, including those from the astrophytum genera, which have beautiful structural shapes and, when mature, pretty yellow flowers, and chamaelobivia and rebutia hybrids, which are easy to look after and not easy to find in garden centres.

Linda’s advice on growing cacti includes keeping them in a sunny position, water approximately once a week in summer and do not allow to sit in water, and to provide a high potash feed during the growing season.

There’s no doubt that whether you have a penchant for primroses, a hankering for hostas or simply can’t get enough of lilies, the relaxed environment at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival is the place to indulge your passion and possibly even ignite a few new ones.

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/

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