The show results from this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival have been announced, with six golds, three silver gilt and four silver medals awarded by judges.
And in a world first, one of the gold medals has been awarded to a Ukrainian garden designer – Anna Galagan, whose garden, The Mindset, features an evocative sculpture of a child.
This year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival, in association with Great Little Breaks runs from May 9-12 and boasts eight stunning show gardens and five green living spaces
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.
Head of Shows, Diana Walton, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing such a great set of results this year, especially with six highly-coveted gold medals and the world’s first ever RHS gold for a Ukrainian designer. It’s always very tense for our garden designers when the RHS judges are here making their decisions, as they put so much heart and soul into their designs – not to mention time and effort!
“Our show gardens are always one of the most popular destinations at the festival, closely followed by our imaginative green living spaces and we’re expecting this year will be no exception.
“For six of our designers, it will be their first show garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival. We can’t wait for our visitors to see the stunning gardens they have created.”
What If, by Sebastian Conrad in collaboration with Kate Rees – Gold
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, by Anna Galagan – Gold
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.
The Orange Express, Jason Hales, Villaggio Verde – Gold
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.
The Habit of Living Diabetes UK Garden, Karen Tatlow and Katherine Hathaway – Silver Gilt
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.
The Redshift Garden, Julie Bellingham – Silver
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.
The Leaf Creative Athena Garden, Peter Dowle – Gold
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.
Mimosa Design: Grace and Dignity Garden, Lucie Giselle Ponsford – Silver
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.
The Macmillan Legacy Garden, Gary Bristow – Silver Gilt
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.
GREEN LIVING SPACES:
Defiance, by Sara Edwards at No.30 Design Studio – Gold
The London balcony garden is inspired by a traveller returning from Brazil who is craving the lush green of the tropics and wishes to escape the harsh realities of inner-city life by indulging their plant obsession. This garden is inspired by the Modernist landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx and features a ray of exotic plants, from Yuccas to palm trees to bring out the Brazilian influence.
An Artist’s Studio at Home, Jessica Makins – Gold
Inspired by the home, studio and paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, the garden is designed to provide a space to imagine, make and exhibit. Imagined as a home art studio, either as a garden room or a converted room in a house, the design focuses on creating views to paint and draw. Ethics are important in this garden, which utilises natural materials including timber, clay and natural fibres such as wool and linen.
Mediterranean Terrace, Gabriella Pill – Silver Gilt
The garden is designed for a busy, young-professional couple, typically the type of people who might have a small space that they would like to make the most of in rented accommodation. The living space must be low maintenance, but most importantly an enjoyable place to relax and spend time outdoors. A young professional couple would be seeking relaxation closer to home, why not in their own little slice of Ibiza in their own back garden?
Memories of a Home, Anastasia Yakovleva – Silver
Inspiration for Anastasia’s garden comes from a young Russian couple’s home. The couple are young professionals, the man a successful chef and she’s a sought after graphic designer who miss their country and would like to bring a bit of Russia back with them, through Loft, Scandinavian and Rustic design traditions.
Ikhaya, Stacey Bright – Silver
For those living in the city but missing the agricultural life, the Ikhaya garden (meaning ‘home’ in Zulu) allows the visitor to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and go back to the basics of picking what we eat, having our feet on the ground, and connecting with nature. Reflecting this, the garden is inspired by South African living and incorporates dust, rust, and greenery into a contemporary living environment.
RHS Malvern Spring Festival 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 has a star-studded line up of special guests across the weekend, 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.