Much chatting was done: a special mention must go to Frances and Gail, who made the heroic journey all the way from Tennessee just to get rained on yet were utterly delightful about it all and didn’t moan a bit about their sudden transition from shorts-and-tshirts temperatures to something requiring thick jumpers (though being in close proximity to genuine, 24-carat royalty I hope made up for it a bit). Also the lovely Ewa who joined us from Poland (presumably quite at home climate-wise) and Yolanda Elizabet who turns out to be an irrepressibly effervescent Dutchish person. And very many thanks to the ever-fabulous VP, who organised it all, and Helen, who bravely opened her gorgeous garden and home to us so we could eat pizza and sit on her stairs.
Right, before this all starts getting unbearably luvvie I shall stop there, and talk about the show: which is why, of course, we were all there.
It was the first time I’ve ever been to Malvern: a revelation to see the change of plant palette from the high-summer iris, alliums and agapanthus of Chelsea and Hampton Court, to the spring aquilegia, geums and dicentra of Malvern. Medals were much in evidence, though just two golds – to the ‘Recovery and Wellbeing Garden’, from the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (a little heavy on the chicken house, in my view, but lots of robustly healthy veg) and the rather gorgeous ‘The Youth of Old Age’, from Graduate Gardeners Ltd., which also won best in show.
But medals shmedals: here are the ones you’ve all been waiting for.
The Constant Gardener Awards for Malvern 2010
Plant of the Show 2010: Rheum palmatum
with hostas and coppery young leaves of Cotinus ‘Grace’ in ‘The Youth of Old Age’ (gold, best in show)
and teamed with Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’: ‘ReSource Garden’ (Silver-Gilt)
It’s not just because it’s got veg in it- honest. The elegant, sweeping curves were echoed on the other side in aquilegia, swelling box balls and lavender. Heavenly.
Most Original Use of Plants: ReSource Garden (Silver-Gilt)
Best re-working of a tired theme: The sedum roof in ‘As Time Goes By’ (Silver)
No boring-but-eco-friendly tile-effect sedum matting here: these are individual sedum plug plants (plus a few houseleeks) chosen for their variations in foliage texture and planted lovingly into capillary matting on a small shed roof. There was a life and movement to the planting you never find on mass-produced sedum roofs – and it made me want to do it myself
Most covetable paving: The Woodland Edge Garden (Silver)
Wackiest paving idea of the year: 10 Green Bottles Might Just Build A Wall
Fence of the year: The Owl & The Pussycat (Silver)
Highly Commended: The Morgan Garden
Sculpture of the Year: The Owl from ‘The Owl & The Pussycat’ (Silver)
I am told by Deb (who hobnobs with royalty: it is she meeting Princess Anne in the main picture) that the designer cooked the toast and nailed it to the roof, only to have a flock of crows descend on it moments later and strip the lot off again. He did not give up and go find some plastic toast: no, he went out and bought another load of bread, toasted it again, nailed it on and this time laquered it in place.
Bonkers, or what?