Friday, 11 May 2012

A little of what you fancy ....

Before the sun shone
As this is my personal blog – one where I let my hair down – I thought I would illustrate and comment on some of the aspects of the Malvern Spring Gardening Show that have particularly caught my fancy over the last couple of days. No links to external websites or anything like that in this post (except to relevant posts in my other blogs), for each aspect illustrated here will feature over the coming weeks and months in augmented form in my other ‘working’ blogs. So much in fact appealed, that I now have the enjoyable business of sorting written notes, a bagful of literature collected and images taken, whilst gathering together the threads that have inspired me. First of course is the backdrop of the unforgettable hills; uplifting to the spirit, and a place of beauty of which I never tire.

Year-4 scrapbook associated with 'best-in-show' school garden
Of my many passions in life, one has always been the importance of inspiring others. This began in childhood with theatrical activities – and writing, even then, and continued into a teaching career. So the work being done by The Three Counties Showground to encourage children to “explore, experience and enjoy” is dear to my heart. And, if you come to think about it, much of what goes into the ‘staging’ of any Show or Exhibition is in fact theatrical (wearing my marketing hat here!) – so it was a huge delight to see the gardens created by so many schools, to share with some of the pupils their enthusiasm. And what an excellent lesson they have inadvertently learned, to struggle with the rain and mud over the last month as they created, built and planted their gardens, and to have achieved such amazing results. To be totally honest, they had a simplicity and freshness lacking in some of the adult designers’ gardens!

The Show Garden that most appealed to me
Though I loved Kasia Howard’s ‘Florilegium’, which I mentioned briefly yesterday in my new Traveller’s Tales blog (click on Random Jottings in the top bar). I plan to write more about Kasia and her design thoughts – both this and her showgarden at Malvern 2011 – were a revelation. It was the most difficult of all the gardens to photograph for it lay in the shadow of a large tree, so the image just does not do it justice; the sinuous metal scrolls made me think of unravelling a history of wild medicinal plants, and indeed the punched words, taken from folklore, could have been those of a herbalist, singing troubadour fashion. Theatre again.

From large to small scale: from creating in three dimensions to recording on the page. The RHS Botanical Art Exhibition was held in part of the newly developed Three Counties Centre, and was worthy of this new exhibition space. Such gifted artists, and such a range of styles. I particularly liked the delicate and perceptive work of Caroline Holley and her ‘Wayside Weeds in Winter’. No photograph could compare with the originals, and this was taken through glass with reflections of passing crowds outside the plate-glass windows.

My love of old buildings sparked a journaling idea when I saw these exquisite  pieces 
Next came my ‘reserved for creativity’ time, across the Showground and more delights in the Wye Hall and The Guild of Herefordshire Craftsmen. I had fallen in love with the ‘raku fired buildings’ created by Neil Spalding on previous occasions. Interpretations of historic buildings, their detail, colour and texture has given me the idea of creating textural images from some of my photos of old-buildings, using scrunched and coloured napkin tissue on pages from old books. More theatre! (Please scroll back through my Journaling blog for other ways in which I place my own interpretation on landscape.)

Paul Hervey-Brookes (right) with guests
Back to theatre proper and the ‘Plants & People’ Theatre – a totally new concept for the Show, and a “visually exciting and engaging centrepiece’ designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes in his trademark living landscape theme. Paul hosted a stimulating discussion on ‘Real Gardens’, posing questions to three gardeners with long experience of opening their gardens to the public. Answering prompts put to them, each contributor spoke of their philosophy of garden spaces, and what gardens are all about. Surprisingly, there was no mention of vegetables (almost as if something so utilitarian should be hidden from view!) There was no time to quiz the speakers on their views re ‘grow-your-own’ – so you will have to check my ‘Vegetable Heaven’ post that I wrote last night here.

Buying choice specimens appealed to the plant hunters
Time was running out; I had not covered a half of what I wanted to do today, and have yet to take out of the cupboard mixed-media materials for my own interpretation of Showground  pleasures and delights. The chill wind was ignored, the sun had shone all afternoon; crowds were departing trundling cherished plants and I - back to the motorhome (our mobile office and studio) to record all this, to work out tomorrow’s schedule, and enjoy a glass or two of wine. A little of what you fancy ….


  1. Fascinating - I especially liked the old building pieces.

  2. Thankyou Laurie, I loved writing this 'just for me!' - what I wanted to say without having to confine myself to editorial direction. Glad you liked the buildings. I'll post the artist,s website when I can reach my stored stash of literature.

  3. Hey Ann
    Great post...Love the little buildings too! Like you I like the show garden in the photo. Have a great time and I hope the weather keeps dry.Look forward to hearing more. Best Wishes Julie x

    1. Hi Julie, Thanks for your kind comment. (I've just made the connection between you on Facebook and your Blog!) I will be posting a resume of the Show in my travel diary on my new Traveller's Tales blog ( once we arrive home and I've sorted all my notes, and my husband has given me some of his images. Right now, in what is left of today, I am going to 'play art' - not had a change to bring out the artbox as yet!