RHS Malvern Spring Festival visit

RHS Malvern Spring Festival starts the show season in early May. I find the Malvern Shows inspiring, relaxing and entertaining. The showgrounds enjoy a beautiful backdrop of the Malvern Hills.

The autumn show feels like a superb harvest celebration with a greater focus on productive gardening. However, the spring show offers inspiration for ornamental gardens. There are show gardens, feature gardens and plenty of stands. The stands sell eye-catching plants and all kinds of equipment, machinery and accessories for the garden.

There’s plenty of choice of food and refreshments. And the permanent gardens at the Three Counties Showground offer further inspiration and places to pause for contemplation.

Ideas from the Plant Village

A rich dark perennial poppy, Papaver Black Peony looked great in the bright spring sunshine.

As did the Meconopsis.

I found it hard to capture the beauty of Nemesia ‘Lady Anne’, this plant has been added to my wish list.

This deep raspberry colour Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ caught my eye at last year’s show and this year I like it even more.

In the Floral Marquee at Malvern Spring Festival

A display of lilies by Harts Nursery received a gold medal. Lilium Anouska has white petals edged with a gentle mid-pink.

Large leaf Hosta 'Bridal Falls'

New Forest Hostas offered a variety of large leaf hostas. Hosta ‘Bridal Falls’ caught my eye with paler green margins to the large leaves.

Epimedium at Malvern Spring Festival

Epimedium ‘The Giant’ was on the display from Hedgehog Plants. Towering above the other Epimedium, this was by far the most interesting one I’ve seen. I particularly like tall, but light and airy plants that fill a space without blocking out all the light for any planting beneath them. And shade loving plants that fulfill these requirements are even better.

Carnation Lucy at Malvern Spring Festival

This strong red Carnation ‘Lucy’ was bred by G and K Carnations. Named after a family member (Keith did tell me and I can’t recall), I like the boldness of the colour.

I also really liked Carnation ‘Wine Cover’ with its two-tone petals of pink and sand.

Best Show Garden 2024

The Best Show Garden awarded to The Cotswold Garden, designed by Mark Draper. And Best Construction awarded for The Cotswold Garden, built by Graduate Gardeners Ltd.

I approached the Cotswold Garden from the meadow and my eyes were immediately drawn to the pathway. It leads through the trees to a seating area and then on to a raised patio with pergola over.

Domed arch at the head of the stream in the Cotswold Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival visit

Running parallel to the pathway is a stream that appears from a domed arch in the wall that is such a feature of the garden. It was rather nice to see a celebratory bottle of something fizzy cooling the in water!

I knew that this was a Cotswold Garden long before I found the information panel because of the stone colour, the building techniques and the curve in the top of the wall.

The pergola over the patio dining area would provide support for a flowering climber or two and create a lovely place to eat al fresco.

I liked the use of young trees and drifts of plants to create a feeling of seclusion and privacy for the seating area.

And I liked the way the planting blended with the drifts of wildflowers in the meadow area. This allowed the transition from one area to the next to be gentle rather than blunt or jarring. I’m pleased that this garden was awarded Best Show Garden as it’s the one that stood out most for me in terms of ‘I’d like that garden!’

Trees, shrubs and climbers on display

I visited the display from Frank P Matthews, which included climbers, shrubs and a range of trees.

The special offer for the duration of the show is Cercis Chinensis ‘Diane’ for £50, which is only available for those at the show. A quick check on their website and the standard price is £117. I now regret not buying one at the show!

In the centre of the display was a collection of Viburnum ‘Snowball’ which looks magnificent at this time of year. The cream flowers have an almost lime-green hint to them and on mass, they gave an idea of what a large mature shrub might look like.

And if all these beautiful plants weren’t enough, you could even buy a ready made, in flower, wisteria arch!

When to visit RHS Malvern Spring Festival

RHS Malvern Spring Festival is an annual event held at the Three Counties Showground Great Malvern, Malvern WR13 6NW.

Liz Zorab
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