Reviewed by Jan Jay
The RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place every May at the Three Counties Show ground at the foot of the magnificent Malvern Hills. The event runs from Thursday to Sunday and we visited on the Saturday.
The show ground is well signposted from the M5 and M50 and although there was a lot of traffic, entrance to the show and parking was quick and easy. We made a beeline for the nspirational Show Gardens, which are created each year by leading designers and then visited the Festival Gardens, created by seven novice gardeners all mentored by the Cotswold Gardening School. We picked up some great ideas and inspiration for our own garden and helpfully most gardens had lists of plants that had been used, so you could track them down on the nursery stalls. Our next stop was the area with the School Gardens which had been created by the local pupils and these were particularly colourful and cheerful.
The show ground is large, but easy to navigate because it is based on a grid system with a central green where we found street food stalls, classic cars, a talented string quartet playing in the bandstand and the Festival Theatre, hosting a series of demonstrations by celebrities. We particularly enjoyed the floristry demonstration by Jonathan Moseley.
Malvern is, of course, a fabulous place to buy plants and we visited all the specialist nursery stalls and were pleased to track down an elusive climber we were after. Expert advice was available at the plant society tent and exhibitors and stall holders were passionate about their plants and offered aftercare advice for when you got your plants home. In addition there were talks and free workshops for all, including beginner gardeners and children.
There is a strong connection between food and gardening and the Festival Food and Drink Pavilion was very busy with stalls selling pies, cheeses, cakes, smoothies, etc… Tastings were available, so we tried a black pudding and strawberry jam sausage which was quite interesting! Chefs were also demonstrating throughout the day. There was such a large selection of food and drink to buy, the only problem we had was choosing what to have. We thoroughly enjoyed our pizza cooked in a wood fire oven washed down with a pint of Woods beer.
There are lots of things to buy apart from plants, such as tools, garden furniture, hot tubs and country wear and we spent a pleasant couple of hours visiting all the stalls and enjoyed demonstrations by a wood turner and a farrier. Bring lots of cash with you, as there were long queues for the cash machines and not all stalls could take cards.
If you find yourself laden down with purchases, there is a very handy plant crèche and at the end of the day, for a small donation, the sea cadets were happy to take your goodies back to the car park for you.
We left our visit to the Floral Marquee until later in the day when it was much quieter. There were 80 top nurseries exhibiting their plants and the displays were quite breath taking.
We would thoroughly recommend a visit to the Malvern Spring Festival, there really is something for everyone and we left feeling that we could have stayed longer if only our feet weren’t so tired. Malvern festival is a delight for both gardeners and foodies. Well worth the £19 entrance fee.
Next year the festival runs from 5th – 8th May, but there is also an Autumn Show this year on the 26-27 September.
Next years festival opens 5-8 May 2016, for more information visit www.rhsmalvern.co.uk.
Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 6NW