No raining on our parade
What a great first day at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival. In true British fashion the crowds came out in big numbers despite the dreary weather. With a smile on our faces, us visitors enjoyed the Show Gardens, the Floral Marquee and other exhibits.
First to catch our attention were the gardens of the School Gardens Challenge; local schools interpreted the brief 'A Moment in Time' using their horticultural prowess and inventiveness.
One school used plastic bottles as planters (pictured), proving that sustainability is a good and easy habit to get into. Hung on a ladder of planters this school showed what you can do with small spaces - capitalising on vertical gardening.
A damp squib- never!
Every cloud has a silver lining - and every cloud at Malvern indeed did. The rain gave an accurate impression of which flowers survive in shady and damp positions.
Ferns, pondside plants such as Primula vialii (pictured) and candelabra primroses, and the much-loved hosta all shone with their flowers and bright foliage even when the sun is taking a holiday.
Ideas for wildlife
Water featured in the gardens (in addition to the rain!) in ponds and pools of all sizes. Some large ponds were the focal point of some Show Gardens whereas others advocated what you can do with water to attract beneficial wildlife that helps with UK species and helps our gardens too.
Certainly a prevailing theme and possible very en vogue is the use of intricate and airy grasses and perennials which many of the gardens showed off. Try it in your own garden. Choose a colour theme that suits you and pick elegant tall flowers mixed to provide an easy and informal, yet colourful flower display.
The UK's take on the Mediterranean
There are many hardy plants that thrive in the Mediterranean that we can grow successfully on this island too. Hardy palms and grasses can be stalwarts in your garden and even trees like olives and citrus. Just be sure to arm yourself with fleece on particularly chilly nights or grow plants in pots so they can be brought indoors over night.
The lure of lavender
We noticed a confident and popular use of lavender around the show used in many of the gardens. It can be used informally with other perennials or as a hedge to border those perennials and balance the informality or the perennials with formal hedging.
Again, an idea you can take home we recommend that you plant young lavender plants 20-30cm (8-12in) apart so they knit together and form a dense lavender shrub that attracts important and beneficial pollinating insects like bees.