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Gardening with Hannah Genders

The magic of Malvern

Posted on April 21 2013 at 1:37:17 0 comments

Chives

Hannah Genders plans a sustainable garden for the Spring Show.

At very short notice I’m doing another show garden at The Malvern Spring Show later this month. The truth is I wasn’t planning to, as the usual timing is to put the design in during October and then start working on it in November to get everything in place.
This time the show organisers phoned me up in January and asked me to do a garden – and offered to pay the costs! I thought this was a real honour and couldn’t really refuse, so had to think pretty quickly about what I would like to do as I was already a few months behind.

In doing any show garden you need to be sure what it is you would like to promote as the process, although enjoyable, is very hard work and with the possibility of obtaining future contracts the garden needs to show what sort of work you do as a designer.

One of my passions is to create sustainable gardens that not only (hopefully) look good but also use local woodland products in their construction, thereby supporting our lovely woods by using the products they produce. This means they are properly managed as the money is then channelled back into their long term management.

So the title of my garden this year is “A Woodland Kitchen Garden” and, as the name suggests, it is a little outdoor kitchen complete with a hand-built cob oven for cooking.

The kitchen area stands in a woodland backdrop of sweet chestnut and cherry trees, underplanted with hazel and shade-loving perennial flowers similar to those you would find in any English woodland, although I have not stuck to strictly native plants like bluebells as I would run the risk of all the flowers being over in mid-May.

I have added some extra flowering perennials like foxgloves, which we are trying to force into flower in polytunnels, Ajuga (or buglen to give it the common name) and Arum lillies. These will carpet the floor along with ferns and Dicentra.

The planting will show the structure of a traditional woodland, with the timber storey made up of the larger trees, a shrub layer of hazel underneath, and the flowers covering the woodland floor.

There is a structure in the garden, again made from chestnut, with a green roof offering some shelter and an area to prepare food for the wonderful cob oven which forms the focal point to the sitting area. The cob oven is again made from sustainable materials, and rendered with a lime plaster to make it waterproof.
A small vegetable garden sits at the right hand side of the shelter and has rows of salads, red flowered broad beans and edible flowers. The vintage crates at the front of the kitchen area are to be planted up with different herbs, so finishing off the edible theme.

I have a great team helping to build and plant this garden: my friends Toby and Aly from Say it With Wood will be doing all the cleft chestnut fencing and gates surrounding the garden, and will also be in the garden demonstrating their woodland craft skills daily during the show.

The woodland co-operative I have been working with in Bristol are making the shelter, decking and cob oven, as well as building the log wall.

With such a cold spring so far, I have to say I am concerned about my plants; they are looking very small and I’m just hoping for some warm weather to bring them on before the show in a few weeks. I need the bluebells to hold back and the foxgloves to start flowering a month earlier than they normally would, so quite a big ask!

The other great aspect of the garden build team is they are all musical, so not only will we have food and woodland crafts in our garden, we intend to have live music as well.

If you are planning to come down to the Malvern show this year do come and find us – we are with all the other show gardens at stand number OS904.

The Malvern show runs from May 10–12 and more details can be found on the website http://www.threecounties.co.uk/springgardening


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