Great news! Malvern Spring Show this year was BIGGER THAN EVER. Alas, for the many, many people attending who were of limited mobility, or with someone of limited mobility, this meant a choice. Show Gardens at the top left-hand corner of the site. Floral marquee and plant displays at the bottom right. Will you go up, or will you go down? We chose the show gardens. Life. You make choices.
Initial entrance is via a commercial zone, so we dove straight in. I found my plant supports almost immediately. Then it was time for plants. You want to buy something you really love right away - linger or decide to come back and someone else will have decided they love that plant, too, no matter how outre or unusual your tastes. So - insane summer bulbs. I found an orange Nerine, a yellow Gloriosa lily, a creamy Roscoea and um, something I mislabelled. Bum. Jackie started her search for Geranium 'Melody' and Jo found some big dramatic things for her somewhat empty shady corner (caused by moving an apple tree). We bought three-for-two on clematis (as the answer to the question, "Do I have space for another clematis? is always, "Yes") - I claimed an aromatica while they both took pretty alpine blues. Then we wandered off for a craft-tent and ice-cream break. Jo got a puzzle showing all the counties of the UK for her classroom, I ate salted honeycomb craftelicious ice cream, Jackie continued her quest for the perfect thing.
The perfect thing was not in the craft tent. It was out in the school gardens, where a class had made a high-concept garden based on the first steps on the moon. They had set up a round garden planted in moody blues, whites and mutes, cut by a spiral path containing plaster casts of the footprints of all the kids. A dramatic fence with big moon windows in it and a space-pod shaped summer-house completed the look! Classy work, Castlemorton Primary School.
The weather closed in and refreshments became a necessity so we headed to the food pavilion. The food provider next to us had a banjo player and was only selling in Macaroni Cheese (yes, really) so we clung to our seats while Jo went and found us a sandwich from a rival food provider who uttered that sad pronouncement of doom; "I'm sorry we don't have any tea." Ouch.
This, and the gathering storm clouds, cast something of a shadow over the short walk to the show gardens, which seemed very... hierarchical. The top-tier gardens (about three) had huge spaces, the prizes, and people selling large plants out of the back of at least one of them (the one done up like a tatty Ibiza cafe - alas would have looked more at home in Westfield Shopping Centre than the Malvern hills) - I spent a while examining the size and shape of their olive pots and may make some changes for my own malingering olive at home. The little gardens (about five) were the more normal small square plots and imaginative styles look - a cosy sunken courtyard with a pizza oven warming it looked nice enough, given the weather. The tiny ones - student gardens (about seven) were on microplots too small for much, although someone had made a fair-ish stab at an American-style raingarden, complete with chains and beds cut through with water reservoirs/streams. They were OK.
Jackie was after a watering can, so we went looking for that, too, as we made our last passes through the various nursery tents. No watering cans. I did, however, find a tiny Geranium 'Melody' for Jackie on the last stall we checked! Score. We were cold and tired by this time, so it was back to creche to pick up the plants then back to the car via the aisles of gardener knick-knacks and art pieces. There was a weird preponderance of giraffes, and surprisingly few shrubs. But I found myself a pretty orange Alpine vetch, and some Merrybells for a tricky shady spot under the passion vine, and few more bits and bobs. So not bad, in the end.