Friday, 2 October 2009

an Autumn abundance...

Firstly, apologies for the incredible lack of bloggage over the month of September. Despite how much I prepare, plan and pack, the showgarden upheaval always renders me somewhat unable to blog

So - what occurred over the bright and sunny month of September in the studio?

Well, amongst other things, we went to Malvern. As there is SO much to report, this will take the form of a series of posts...

Even though Autumn is my favourite season, I have a particular love for the wonderful Malvern Autumn Show at the beautiful Three Counties Agricultural Showground, and it was here that we tootled in the middle of the month to create two projects for the event.

The first was our small and quite conceptual showgarden, The Honeybox. Based on a series of concepts around beekeeping, the garden took its form from bee communication behaviour, its planting from good bee stock and featured a modern beekeeper's folly based on the idea of a large 'exploded' hive (three modern National hives were also included).

We were quite happy with the garden, although I was not happy with the planting at all. I had one of those nightmare times when you get completely fed up and try and find something else to do instead of tackling the problem head on. After a rejig I was happier, but I was the first to admit, it was not my favourite scheme at all. This is probably because the colours were a lot brasher than my usual palette, but 'taste' was somewhat secondary with the scheme - the needs of the bees and educating the viewers being more pressing in my mind.

That said, there were some combos that worked really well, and ones that were duly photographed for future use. The wildflower turf against the neat turf path was one element I really was pleased with - the rawness of the long grass with our perception of a 'perfect' lawn was very interesting. The beautiful oak fencing also set the garden off fantastically - thank you to Quercus...

The second project we were undertaking at the show was the Good Life Pavilion stage itself. We discussed at great length the concepts we wanted to base the stage on, and we were delighted when the Three Counties Agricultural Society approved our ideas.

As the concept of the 'good life' is pretty broad, we wanted to include many elements on the stage rather than concentrate purely on the grow you own side, but the stage was awash with fantastic plants from both Hooksgreen Herbs and Rebekah's Unusual Veg.

So, the stage itself was the hub of container growing, with an island unit sprouting from a raised cabbage filled bed and apple crates and florists buckets filled with herbs and edible flowers. The next 'ring' was a small reclaimed brick wall which mirrored the shape of the stage (an expertly built by James Steed and his crew) and represented 'plot' growing, being filled with veg and herbs. The final ring was the foraging area, where wild turf was interplanted with readily available and recognisable UK wild herbs.

Apple crates filled with fresh bread, apples and vegetables, beautiful knitted and corn dolly sculptures, a beehive, hops, a 'wine' demi john water feature and reclaimed glass bottle screens completed the scheme. Seating was also linked to the stage, with two rows of straw bales being placed in the pavilion for visitors to park themselves on.

We were REALLY pleased with the stage and were delighted when we were presented with the Best in Show Award for a Feature from The Three Counties Agricultural Society.

And the garden? We got a Bronze, which was a little frustrating given that some of the key concepts were not completely understood by the judges, but hey ho, I agreed with a lot of the comments on the planting...

A massive thank you goes out to everyone who assisted with both the garden and the stage, for those who came and helped, and to those who came and said hello.

Now for the recovery - and planning for Spring...


  1. I think you should be pleased with your achievement. Doing the stage and garden must have stretched you and I dont think the garden was as good as others you have done but I loved the stage. At the end of the day I wouldnt know where to start so I am completely in awe of what you do

  2. Congratulations, Claire, on all you have achieved since I first met you at last year's Malvern Autumn Show. You are featuring in both my immediate Malvern Review articles, and shortly in one of my blogs - just keep me posted as to other things you are doing. And the 'Good Life' stage was a true masterpiece. Well done. Ann.