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Gardening with Hannah Genders

My Malvern tribute

Posted on April 17 2011 at 12:43:30 0 comments

Hannah's garden plan

Hannah Genders designs a very special show garden in memory of her mum.

It’s nearly six years since I last did a show garden, and that was at The Chelsea Flower Show. This year I have submitted and been accepted to do a garden at The Malvern Spring show – so much closer to home and, I am hoping, a little less stressful than Chelsea.

My mum helped me plant my last garden at Chelsea and after her sudden and unexpected death last summer, the central feature of my Malvern garden is created in her memory as a tribute to her passion for good food and gardening.

My garden is all about sustainability and local food; to make it truly local I decided I would source all the materials and plants on my bike. This means anything I can’t get to via a bike ride will not be in the garden.

I am also commissioning a garden artist to make small signs for the different elements in the garden, to show how far I had to travel to source the items.

The central part of the garden is an outdoor eating area, with a large rustic table and chairs sitting under a wooden pergola. We are going to hang lots of ‘borrowed’ lanterns from the pergola and this is in honour of my mum, as on her last night we sat out in her garden with all the lanterns lit and talked and had a lovely meal with the family.

The wood for the pergola, the fence and the vegetable beds is all sourced from a local woodland, less than one mile from where we live, so a very short bike ride! This was all dropped off at our house a month ago and my father in law, Neil, has been a star, coming down each week and setting out the woodwork, pre-drilling the fixings and making changes to ensure it all fits.

This means I now have the bare bones of the garden set up on my lawn and can get a good idea of how it will look and if we have enough plants. It will also cut down on the build time at the show.

The hard landscape materials for the patio and paths will all come from a reclamation yard just west of Worcester. They are all recycled and we are trying to show that even old slabs can look good if mixed with other materials.

The garden is sponsored by Hillers Farm Shop, and after the show it will be taken down and rebuilt as part of their garden in Alcester. It will become a permanent demonstration garden where we can instruct people how to grow some food.

Hillers are also growing all the plants – Nick, who runs the garden, has put up a separate polytunnel just for the Malvern plants, and has sourced and potted on all the herbs and flowers. They are looking really good, but we are a little concerned that the lavender plants may not make it to flower in time.

The vegetable plants and edible flowers are being grown by a great couple called John and Wendy Hollis, who live in Harvington. They grow a lot of produce for the farm shop at Hillers and now have the hard work of trying to get plants up to show quality in time for a fussy designer! I have to say, they are amazing growers.

This week I needed to coppice a lot of hazel for the bean plants that are already well on and wanting to clamber up something. The headache is then going to be transporting them to the show site, poles and all.

We have more time at Malvern to build the garden than I would at Chelsea; about three weeks as opposed to one. I have allowed three days to plant and have enlisted some good gardening friends to help me.

If you are thinking of visiting Malvern this year, do come and see us. The show runs from May 12–15 and we will be just outside the Garden Theatre on stand OS907. The garden is called ‘My Very Local Veg Garden’ and I’ll be there with my bike!

For more information on the show see http://www.threecounties.co.uk/springgardening 

The garden will then be open at Hillers Farm Shop (http://www.hillers.co.uk)from May 27–29.


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