Posted by: marymarthatours | September 28, 2014

Malvern Spring Festival 2014

One of the events that I most looked forward to on our Spring Gardens of Cornwall and Devon Tour in May 2014 was our visit to the Malvern Spring Garden Festival at the Three Counties Showground near Great Malvern in western England.  I was not disappointed.

We included this event on our itinerary because it has some of the feel of the Chelsea Garden Show without the crush of crowds.  Both shows have display gardens, floral displays, exhibits of nursery stock, perennials & vegetables, and sales areas.  But at the Malvern Show it’s all more low-key and relaxed.  I loved that.


Our day at the Show was cloudy with off and on rain.  Raincoats and umbrella got us through the wet spells and helped us welcome the sunny spells even more.  I got delayed at the ticket booth because of a complication with our booking, so ended up touring the grounds on my own.  That was wonderful, as I could explore the vast grounds and spend as much or as little time as I wanted everywhere.

I started by visiting the professional and horticultural/design student display gardens, stopping to chat with the designers when possible.  Here are some of my favorites:

DSCN6882    DSCN6878

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I then moved on to the area where nurseries and growers had their booths and displays.  What a challenge NOT TO BUY anything.  But it was fun to see what was on offer and to compare prices with similar plants at my local garden center.  After checking out the garden sheds, I wandered off the to the far end of the fairgrounds to take a look at the School Gardens. 

DSCN6914This was absolutely my favorite part of the show.  Young people from 20 different schools in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire participated in this gardening challenge.  The students must design their garden, grow at least some of the plants used, construct the garden at the Show, and be on hand to talk about the garden with visitors.  This year’s theme for the School Gardens was “a moment in history”.

The young men from the Tewksbury School took great pride in telling me about their garden celebrating the Battle of Tewksbury in 1471.  They pointed out the props that they had created (the cannon) and those loaned by collectors (the authentic arrows). 

DSCN6913Another of the School Gardens that moved me very much was one honoring the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.  I found the simple design of sandbags, red flowers and grave markers to be very profound.  And as I stood silently reflecting at this display, I heard other people, especially those my age, talking about how they too were moved.  I stopped to chat with one of the young students who had worked on this project.  I asked her how their school had done in the judging.  She looked a little downcast and said, “Not very well.  They (the judges) said that our grass was turning brown”.  “Don’t pay any attention to what the judges said,” I urged her.  “Listen to the comments of all the people passing by who think this is a wonderful garden”.  “And besides,” I added, “dying grass is actually perfect for this topic – either that or MUD”.

Oh, my goodness, where had the time gone.  It was almost time to be back at the coach and I had missed so much that I still wanted to see.  A quick stop at several food stalls for a delicious assortment of treats for lunch (and truly, the best fudge ever from Ruby’s Kitchen) and a pass through the craft stalls, and suddenly it was the end of our day.  Not nearly enough time, yet again.


(by Mary)

photo credits:  All photos copyright by Mary Wallace, May 2014.





  1. I love your post on English tours. I am still hopeful I will be able to join your group tour next August to York and the Lake District.

    Fingers are crossed. Peace, Kathleen Forletta

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