What an occasion. Herb-tasting shenanigans from the Three Men and Jekka, bloggers galore, and even Princess Anne joined in the fun.
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.
Plant of the Show 2010: Rheum palmatum
and teamed with Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba': 'ReSource Garden' (Silver-Gilt)
Most Original Use of Plants: ReSource Garden (Silver-Gilt)
That's single-stemmed Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' used as punctuation to pale lilac iris and Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'
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)
Well, OK, it's decking, but I loved that contrast between the sawn logs and the circular decking.
Wackiest paving idea of the year: 10 Green Bottles Might Just Build A Wall
Yes, those are cut-off lemonade bottles. So wierd it almost works.
Fence of the year: The Owl & The Pussycat (Silver)
Hand-woven by the designer and heart-breakingly beautiful.
Highly Commended: The Morgan Garden
The one redeeming feature in an otherwise lamentably blokey garden: an exquisite espaliered apple tree 'fence' in full blossom
Sculpture of the Year: The Owl from 'The Owl & The Pussycat' (Silver)
Isn't he gorgeous?
And finally.... Bonkers Idea of the Year: Hansel & Gretel Fairytale Garden (Silver-Gilt)
That is toast on that roof. Real toast.
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?