Monday October 22 2018

OPEN the latest issue of The Village in a new window




Gardening with Hannah Genders

Going for gold

Posted on May 20 2008 at 3:37:53 0 comments

Mark Eveleigh

Hannah Genders talks to designers at the Malvern Spring Show.

I really think the Malvern show was the best it’s ever been this year; the standard of the show gardens and floral exhibits was very high.

This was reflected in the medals awarded, with the gardens receiving three gold medals and no garden going without a medal as had happened in previous years.

The show was promoting a scholarship scheme this year with Chris Beardshaw, and the winner was picked from a number of designers who had built gardens at the show.

The winner would work with Chris in a mentoring role and go on to produce other gardens at Malvern’s Autumn Show and Chelsea next year.

I decided this year to do some interviews with the designers behind the show gardens and find out what made them want to enter the Malvern show in particular.

First stop was the garden that won a gold and Best in Show. This was called “Susie’s garden”, designed by Sue Jollans for the Meningitis Trust. It was a lovely garden with a trampoline built into the shape as the main feature.

Sue had only been practising garden design for two years – this was only the sixth garden she had ever done and the first show garden. She wanted to do a garden at Malvern as she believed it was the “friendliest” show on the RHS calendar.

The children visiting the show certainly liked the opportunity to go on the trampoline and, while I liked this garden, I was surprised that it won the Best in Show award. 

The second gold medal-winning garden I visited was designed by James Steed and called “Outdoor Living Space”. It was a simple, modern design, well executed, and I particularly liked the deep reds of Heuchera and bronze grasses planted against the stone filled gabions.

James is based in Gloucestershire and this was his second show garden at Malvern; he had received so much work from it last time that he was back for another go.

My third visit was to Mark Eveleigh (pictured above) who, by his own admission, is not a designer by trade but a groundsman at Malvern College Preparatory School, very near the showground.

Mark decided he wanted to put a garden in for the Malvern show after helping a friend construct a Chelsea garden. This little garden was full of innovative ideas and had some lovely stories behind the exhibits showing the history of the school.

For any of you who visited the show, it was the one with the steam engine at the front – this runs in the grounds of the school and the children are allowed to operate it as part of a club on Saturday mornings.

The building behind the track in the garden representing the “waiting room” was constructed entirely from buildings that had been knocked down in the school grounds and rebuilt, including the cricket pavilion and gymnasium. The old furniture inside was mostly borrowed from “lost property”.

The naturalistic planting at the front of the garden was designed around botanical notes found from 80 years ago. The children have always been encouraged to catalogue the plants found growing around the school grounds and these species were from the original notebooks.

A well-deserved medal for this delightful garden; it almost makes you wish you were back at school.

The final garden we saw, called Moel Bryn (the Celtic word for Malvern), didn’t get the gold medal but was awarded silver gilt. It really was an eye-catcher.

Built entirely from recycled materials, the garden had rough-sawn pieces of wood and bicycle wheels as fencing around the curved shape. The low walls came from a pathway taken up in Malvern a few weeks earlier, and contained lovely mixed planting of vegetables, herbs and perennials.

Alex Bell, the designer of this garden, was keen to show that something could be constructed on a very low budget (the materials for the garden cost £50) and promote a sustainable form of gardening.

In chatting to Alex, I discovered that he had just missed the gold due to his trees being too small. While I would agree with this, I really did think his garden was the most innovative in the show.

With a delightful setting, good weather and show gardens of this quality, I do think Malvern has the chance of becoming a second Chelsea, and I am seriously tempted to enter myself next year.

Either way, make sure you get to the Malvern Spring Show next year for a really great day out.

Pictures by Julia Gross

What Villagers have been saying about this story . . . most recent comments first


What do you think? Share your views by typing in the box below.




Please enter the word you see in the image below (this keeps the spammers away):

Return to Front Page