Details of eight stunning show gardens at the highly-anticipated RHS Malvern Spring Festival, held from May 9-12, have been revealed by organisers.
This year, talented designers have drawn their inspiration from a myriad of sources including rural Spain, art, health, astronomy and the mind as they create gardens based around the festival’s theme of Through the Lens.
Show Garden designer favourites Peter Dowle and Villagio Verde will return once more, along with Gary Bristow, while for several designers it will be their first time creating a show garden. New faces will include Lucie Giselle Ponsford, Julie Bellingham, design duo Karen Tatlow and Katherine Hathaway, Sebastian Conrad and Anna Galagan, who travels to the festival from the Ukraine.
Head of Shows, Diana Walton, said: “Our Show Gardens are one of the most popular destinations at the festival and this year we’re delighted to be welcoming so many new faces. For six of our designers, it will be their first Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival. We can’t wait to see what they will be creating for us – from the initial plans we’ve seen our visitors are certainly in for a treat.”
Artistic creativity and its positive effect on the mind are considered in the What If garden, which will recreate an open-air art studio complete with three large, colourful hand-painted steel sculptures. Large pines will sit alongside reclaimed stone, salvia and rosemary, with the garden’s vibrant, warm colours inspiring positivity and a peaceful state of mind.
The Mindset garden is divided into two contrasting parts to represent the different experiences we can have as humans – either grey and lifeless or flourishing and joyful, depending on the priorities we set. A lifeless concrete metropolis will give way to a waterfall of dark blue salvia and forget-me-nots, which will stream into blooming meadow full of colourful flowers and grasses. The central element of the garden is a representation of the brain’s cerebrum constructed from sagina subulata and blooming ground cover plants.
A sculpture of a child will remind visitors how our decisions can have a direct impact on our children.
Orange, lemon, pomegranate and olive trees will sit alongside grape vines in this show garden that will evoke memories of rural Spain in spring, as visitors are transported to an old industrial working train station.
The garden, which includes a train station house, a goods store and a railroad track, will give visitors the feeling of being part of the atmosphere as they view the scene from the platform.
Spanish roof tiles, reclaimed boards, walling stones will sit alongside the fruit trees, adding to the experience.
Designed to highlight the scale of diabetes as a condition, the Habit of Living garden references the emotional and physical journey of being diagnosed with diabetes, from first diagnoses to living with and managing the condition well.
A darker, more difficult to navigate path planted with deep purples and plums gives way to an easier, brighter pathway surrounded by flowers with lighter hues, with a seating area giving a sense of sanctuary for quiet reflection and acceptance. A sculptural feature, based on actual blood glucose monitoring graphs, will symbolise the continual monitoring of the condition.
With an astronomical theme, the Redshift Garden celebrates how telescopes have helped us develop an understanding of our universe. Plants moving from yellows through to oranges and reds will represent the astronomical Red Shift – or the fact that when observed, galaxies that are moving away from us appear more red. Colourful geums, iris will be interspersed with swathes of dark plants including aquilegias to represent dark matter, while a space to sit will represent Earth, with surrounding sculptures hinting at ground and space telescopes.
A calm, contemplative space with a series of viewing points, the Athena Garden is centred around a reflective long pool with a graceful ballerina sculpture dancing on a circular infinity pool rising from the main pool. The garden will explore form, light and reflections, and will seek to draw in the surrounding views of Malvern. Calm whites and soft colours will contrast with darker greens and a lawned area, with the garden’s centre point a place to sit, rest, contemplate and nourish the soul.
Forest of Dean boulders in the pool, dating back 230 million years, will be sliced to give them a modern finish, while a recycled shipping container will give the garden a contemporary feel.
The Grace and Dignity garden takes its inspiration from Mrs Grace, a domestic abuse victim who left her abusive husband with her children after the First World War.
The three intersecting circles of this garden represent her personal endeavour and dignity through adversity, with an oak tree sapling a central symbolic choice for its eventual power and strength. Native hedgerows will sit alongside bold herbaceous blooms, while a birch woodland glade with creams and glaucous foliage will provide shade and a gentle mood.
Inspired by a fictional painter and photographer couple, the garden is celebration of their life and legacy. Hundreds of curious objects will be embedded into its walls and features, while its planting scheme features perennials, bulbs and self-seeding plants that will return year after year, thus creating their own legacy. An area of white flowers shows how life can seem to lose its colour when people are faced with a cancer diagnosis, with more colourful and tactile plants shows the warmth and energy that Macmillan Cancer Support provides.
RHS Malvern Spring Festival, in association with Great Little Breaks, is seen by many as the official start of spring and attracts more than 100,000 people annually. Visitors flock to see its inspirational show gardens and beautiful Floral Marquee, get top tips from the experts and enjoy the best food and drink that Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire has to offer.
The Festival recently announced a star-studded line up of special guests, including DJ and gardening enthusiast, Jo Whiley, horticultural experts Monty Don, Joe Swift, and Carol Klein, celebrity chef Raymond Blanc and BBC Masterchef host, John Torode amongst others.
RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place from May 9-12. Advance tickets are now on sale now, with prices starting at just £19 for RHS and Three Counties members, or £21 for the general public. Children under 16 go free.