Carol Klein’s Top Tips for Autumn Colour in Your Garden

Carol Klein on stage RHS Malvern Autumn Show

Carol Klein’s Top Tips for Autumn Colour in Your Garden

I had the pleasure of meeting the Gardeners’ World presenter Carol Klein at the RHS Malvern Autumn Show 2019.

As we sat down to talk behind the main stage, one of Carols colleagues shouted over and asked Carol if she had a sewing kit in her handbag, Carol replied “No, but I’ve got a boiled egg, babybel and a piece of chocolate!” So now you know what Carol keeps in her bag… who knew!!! It certainly broke the ice as I found it very funny.

Carol is a regular visitor to the Malvern Shows and loves the people and plants, she says it’s very down to earth and loves mingling with everyone in the floral marquee.

But we all want to know, what’s in Carol’s garden right now that’s looking good?  Here’s what she had to say about some of her favourite Autumnal flowering plants.

Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii

Rudbeckia yellow daisy

Carol loves this plant as it’s such a ‘sunny’ autumnal flower and grows well in her gardens heavy soil. She went on to say they’re really easy to propagate and it’s best done in the spring.

They are a perennial which grows to around 60cm tall, with dark oval hairy green leaves and bright yellow daisy flowers which bloom from late summer to mid-autumn. Ideal for clay, loam or chalk soils in full sun or part shade.

Molinia caerulea subsp. caerulea ‘Edith Dudszus’

Molinia Edith Dudszus moor grass

Commonly known as Moor Grass. This grass turns gold in autumn and she loves how it tumbles over in the border and can easily self-seed.

This grass can grow in any moist but well drained soil in full sun or part shade, but prefers neutral soil.  It grows to around 90cm tall so it’s ideal for mid/back of borders. It’s deciduous and its best to remove any dead foliage and old flowered stems in spring.

*TOP TIP* Carol loves Asters and has a top tip of combining similar flowers of different heights to give a tiered effect.

Aster × frikartii ‘Mönch’

Aster blue daisy

The word Aster comes from an ancient Greek word meaning star, Carol went on to explain where the variety name came from and it’s an interesting story.  But in a nutshell a Swiss plantsman called Frikart created three new cultivars, naming them after Swiss Mountains: ‘Mönch’, ‘Eiger’ and ‘Jungfrau’.

Monch is a bushy perennial that grows to around 1m tall, likes full sun and is happy in loam, chalk or sandy soil. It has pretty lavender-blue flowers which bloom from August to September. Loved by pollinators too!

Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’ (cordifolius hybrid) aster


Aster Little Carlow blue daisy

This aster (shown in the back of this photo) is also a bushy perennial that grows to around 90cm tall. It’s happy in most soils – clay, loam, chalk and sandy so long as it’s moist but well drained. It likes full sun or part shade. It may need staking. It’s also easy to propagate in the spring too.  It has pretty violet-blue flowers which bloom from August to October.

What an interesting insight into Carols garden and her advice on propagation is invaluable, she said it’s simple but as asters put all their energies into flowering late in the season, means it’s not until spring that their new roots begin to grow. Chop up an aster in autumn and your divisions may well sulk and possibly die.

We crammed a lot of information into a short space of time, and I would like to thank Carol for sharing her fabulous tips and knowledge with me.

If you would like to see the National Collection of Asters, please visit Old Court Nurseries and The Picton Garden in Malvern, Worcestershire – it’s a beautiful garden and you can buy Asters too!

Further reading on my blog –

Rudbeckia yellow daisy Picton Garden

Aser blue daisy



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RHS Malvern Autumn Show, Worcestershire 2019

orange pumpkin squash in wooden box


RHS Malvern Autumn Show 2019

Sadly it’s the last RHS show of the year but what a brilliant show to visit – there really is something for everyone!

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Malvern Hills means the weather can be a mixture all in one day. The showground covers the size of 23 football pitches, so comfy shoes are a must!

This particular show incorporates the Canna UK Giant Vegetable championships and includes 600 giant vegetables with a cumulative weight of 7.45 tonnes, which is the size of an African elephant. You really need to go and see the display for yourself to appreciate the size of the veg and the amount of work that goes into putting on the incredible display.

giant pumpkin

Although as you know my passions are the flowers and gardens – there are no show gardens at this event, but the displays are just as inspiring. I love to see different flower combinations to include colour and texture.

The Floral Art section is an absolute must to visit – the talent on display is impressive and the theme is ‘Autumn Jewels’.  There were various classes to display in, including a festive section such as best dressed door, Christmas table centrepiece and a doormat.  I’m overwhelmed with people’s imagination. This particular floral design uses Amaryllis’, Gerbera and Anthurium – a combination that wouldn’t have crossed my mind, but its so eye catching.

Floral art gerbera amyryllis


Floral Christmas Pudding

The Harvest Pavilion showed off benches of vegetables, soft fruit and flowers. The Bramley Apples reminded me of home as Dad grew them in his garden and Mum used them for baking the best apple crumble. Bramleys are a tart and tangy variety best suited for baking due to keeping their flavour after cooking. In 2017 the UK harvested 70,000 tonnes of Bramley apples, which equates to approximately 333,333 apples. Wow!

Bramley Apple


I met the volunteers from Plant Heritage who told me that some plants are quietly vanishing, and it’s their plan to find them and cultivate them before they get lost for good. They explained that plants fall out of fashion, but its vital to keep the plants going whether that’s for food, medicine, ornament or heritage which will enable future generations to enjoy them too.

If you would like to join the Worcestershire Group, it meets monthly in friendly, informal sessions at Pershore College – for further information

Unfortunately I ran out of time (too busy looking at plants!) to visit the World of Animals, but I visited last year and its fabulous and great for the kids too. There’s a load of things to see – from pets such as Guinea pigs, rabbits and giant tortoises, to the Top Dog arena which shows off the best agility dogs in the country as well as an appearance by former blue Peter presenter Peter Purves.

It really is one of the best shows on the calendar, so check it out for yourself – more information is available from


Aster Picton Gardens

Frank Mathews trees

And finally…. The lovely Carol Klein hosting a Q&A on the Pottager Stage

Carol Klein on stage




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Picton Nurseries asters


RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

RHS Chelsea Flower Show lemon lupins

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

WOW the Chelsea Flower Show was fabulous! This year’s theme is definitely about back to nature with woodland style gardens and natural materials used on all the gardens.  Colourwise there was lots of whites, lemons and pale colours with a few gardens having a strong dark purple and burgundy shades – very beautiful colour palates. I arrived early which enabled me to have a good look around at the show gardens and take some great photos, so have a read of my review and how you can apply some of their design styles to your garden without breaking the bank!

The M&G Garden – designed by Andy Sturgeon

Gold Medal & Best Show Garden

This garden was about rejuvenation and how plants colonise a space.  The large and very striking black sculptures made from 50 tonnes of sustainable burnt-oak timber represented a rock formation Andy had seen in Australia. The paths and steps were made from English ironstone which was a neutral earthy tone in colour to offset the lush green plants.

RHS Chelsea Andy Sturgeon

RHS Chelsea Andy Sturgeon plants

Top Tip #1

If your garden is more courtyard than rolling hills, you can take the burnt-oak timber idea and use smaller wooden posts placed through your garden border – as demonstrated in this display by Daisy Roots Nursery in the Great Pavilion.

RHS Chelsea Daisy Roots nursery black posts

The Resilience Garden – designed by Sarah Eberle

Gold Medal & Best Construction Award

RHS Chelsea Sarah Eberle

Created to celebrate the Forestry Commission’s centenary, and demonstrate the challenges facing forests of the future. It also shows how woodlands can be made resilient to a changing climate and the increasing threats of pests and diseases.

The silo made a striking focal point, especially as it made a creative home office space, although I don’t think I would want to be inside there during a thunder storm!  The trees used in the design were a mixture of native and exotics such as the Araucaria araucana, commonly known as the monkey puzzle tree.

RHS Chelsea Sarah Eberle show garden

I loved the planting which included Echium russicum which contrasted beautifully against the lime green Euphorbia’s, blue Linum and pink Ragged Robin.


The Greenfingers Charity Garden – designed by Kate Gould

Silver Gilt Medal

First impression was WOW, I loved the beautifully planted border at the front – gorgeous lemon lupins with white roses and bearded iris. My eyes were then drawn to the back of the garden with the geometric style green and grey striped tiles up the back wall and gorgeous Angelica with lime green flower heads. The trees and shrubs enclosed the seating area to make it feel cool and relaxed on a hot sunny day – and also provided privacy if it was located in an urban environment.

RHS Chelsea Greenfingers charity

Above the whole garden was a balcony which was reached via a lift – all created to make the most of every inch of space available in the garden.

RHS Chelsea Greenfingers charity show garden

Top Tip #2

If you have a small and/or narrow garden, you can make the most of your space with vertical planting. This can be achieved with climbing plants, or create a living wall using ready-made systems like the one used in this garden for the The Montessori Centenary Children’s Garden, by Jodi Lidgard, another Gold Medal winning garden.

RHS Chelsea vertical garden

Kampo no Niwa – designed by Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Sato

Gold Medal.

My photographs don’t do this garden justice – this was one of my favourite ‘Space to Grow’ gardens. It looks effortless and a relaxing place to be.  I loved the green oak pergola and the water feature that simply flowed through a rhyll to a tiny pond. Beautiful.

RHS Chelsea Kampo show garden

This garden was designed for a practitioner of Kampo, which is a traditional Japanese herbal medicine. Each plant used in this garden, such as mint, provides a healing tonic to aid digestion, aches & pains and fevers.

RHS Chelsea Kampo water feature

Top Tip #3

Create your own herb garden in pots and containers and place them by your kitchen door for easy access when you’re cooking.  I love to grow mint in pots as it smells lovely when you walk past – to make a fresh mint tea, place a few sprigs in a mug and pour on boiling water and leave to cool slightly before drinking.

Hooksgreen herbs blackcurrant mint

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden – designed by Mark Gregory

Gold Medal and the People’s Choice Award

RHS Chelsea welcome to Yorkshire

You can’t fail to be impressed by this amazing garden – it looks like it has been dug up and transported to Chelsea.  The attention to detail is mind-blowing.

The garden was demonstrating the history of Yorkshire and how the canals were an intrinsic part to the success of the County and developing the industry in the area.  It included a lock keepers cottage and its garden with beautiful veg and a natural habitat of wild flowers mixed in with some cultivated varieties.

Top Tip #4

I loved how the paint colour around the windows and door were co-ordinated with the Lupins and Delphiniums. This idea could be replicated at home easily with using furniture cushions matching your flowers and painting the garden shed – although you would need to ensure the flowers are in bloom all summer!

pink flowers and cushions

photo: Courtesy Karen Chadwick

Plant of the Year 2019

Every year the RHS chooses a ‘Plant of the Year’ – here is the top three:

In third place – Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’

In second place – Digitalis x valinii Firebird

And in first place – Sedum takesimense ‘Atlantis’

RHS Chelsea Sedum plant of the year


There were so many beautiful gardens and planting schemes, here’s a few more photos from the Show:

Natural gardens:

Bronze medal – The Savills & David Harber garden

RHS Chelsea David Harber Savills garden

RHS Back to Nature garden designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White. No medal as it was an RHS garden.

RHS Chelse HRH Princess Catherine show garden

Viking Cruises: The Art of Viking Garden designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes. Gold Medal


RHS Chelsea Paul Hervey Brooks

Further Gardens & Installations

This garden commemorates the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and aims to capture the disorientation and terror of the brave young men landing on the Normandy beach in hail of bullets. It was made from steel washers, and was designed by John Everiss. Stunning and thought provoking.

RHS Chelsea D Day sculpture

I also loved this highland cow sculpture from one of the trade stands – how lovely is he?

RHS Chelsea cow sculpture

This planting combination was by designer Chris Beardshaw – another Gold Medal garden.

RHS Chelsea Chris Beardshaw

I loved the water feature of this perspex panel in the Silver Gilt medal winning garden by David Neale called The Silent Pool Gin garden, with lots of plants used in gin making. Lovely!

RHS Chelsea Silent Pool gin garden

There are still many photos I could show you, but if you would like more details about all the gardens, check out the RHS Chelsea website for more inspiration and ideas.



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salvia astrantia corokia

RHS Malvern Spring Festival, Worcestershire 2019

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2019

RHS Malvern floral sign

The opening day of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival was fantastic! As you would expect, the show gardens were my priority and they were all of an exceptionally high standard.

Here’s an overview of my favourites;

The Leaf Creative Garden: A Garden of Quiet Contemplation – Designed by Peter Dowle.

Awarded a Gold Medal and Best Show Garden – understandably so as it was beautiful and definitely created a sense of calm. Being able to gaze across the garden and reflective pool to the sculpture of a dancing ballerina, created by Simon Gudgeon made a stunning focal point.

The planting was a mixture of perennials and semi mature shrubs, such as Japanese maples, Box and Cornus along with Digitalis Purpurea, Anthriscus sylvestris and Thalictrum. It was all set off beautifully against the back drop of the Malvern Hills.

RHS Malvern Leaf Creative show garden Peter Dowle

RHS Malvern Leaf Creative show garden


The Orange Express Garden – Designed by Villaggio Verde.

Awarded a Gold Medal. It tells the story of fruit production in a remote part of Spain, where a cooperative of growers built a small railway to transport their goods to the market.  The attention to detail was outstanding and it all looked like it had been there for many years – from the Spanish newspaper in the latrine, to marks along the wall where the chairs would have naturally left a mark. This level of detail is what the RHS judges love as it all adds to the story of the garden.

The planting included fruit trees – lemon, pomegranate, plus pistachio and Villaggio Verde’s olive trees, as that is their specialisation.

RHS Malvern Orange Express Show garden

Orange Express show garden RHS Malvern 2019


The Habit of Living – A garden in support of Diabetes Uk. Designed by Karen Tatlow and Katherine Hathaway

Awarded Silver Gilt Medal and Best Construction Award. This garden was definitely one of my favourites. The aim of the garden was to raise awareness of the charity and highlight the scale of the condition which affects more people than cancer and dementia combined.

At the start of the garden it has a narrow path surrounded by plum and purple coloured plants such as Heucheras and Sambucas nigra, which flowed past the seating area with a lovely water feature. The path widens as ‘managing the condition’ becomes easier which is demonstrated by the softer and lighter colour scheme of blues and whites flowers such as Iris’s, Geums, grasses and Artemesia.


RHS Malvern show garden Diabetes

Diabetes show garden RHS Malvern


The Green Living Space Gardens

The Green Living Space gardens started out as shipping containers and were adapted by the designers to show with a bit of imagination a small space can be transformed easily into a beautiful outdoor piece of heaven.

Defiance – Designed by Sara Edwards

Awarded Gold and Best Green Living Space.  It’s based upon a London balcony with the owner being plant obsessed and craving green space in the city.

It had a stylish concrete wall to one side with a wooden pergola across the width of the garden. It was filled with lush tropical planting which contrasted beautifully with the pale grey colour of the container and concrete pots.

The planting was architectural palms, Phormiums and ferns which created lots of texture, colour and height. Sara also used trailing plants across the pergola which softened the edges and she also added a small pond with a large concrete planter which added a further sense of calm.

RHS Malvern Defiance show garden

Defiance show garden RHS Malvern pond


An Artists Studio at Home – Designed by Jessica Makins in collaboration with Stephanie Tudor

Awarded a Gold Medal. I loved the colour palette of neutral grey/green planting with highlights of dark purple from the soft Anthriscus and poppies to the almost black centres of the Euphorbias. The wall to the side was made of earthy clay with a seating area and inverted shelves containing white objet d’art.  It created a really relaxed vibe where you would love to sit and draw or read.

Artists garden RHS malvern 2019


RHS Malvern clay wall


Artists show garden RHS Malvern

Congratulations to all the other garden designers:

Gold Medal – The Mindset by Anna Galagan

Gold Medal – What If in support of Rees Foundation by Sebastian Conrad

Silver Gilt Medal – Mediterranean Terrace by Gabriella Pill

Silver Gilt Medal – The Macmillan Legacy by Gary Bristow

Silver Medal – Grace & Dignity by Lucie Giselle Ponsford

Silver Medal – Ikhaya: Home by Stacey Bright

Silver Medal – The Redshift by Julie Bellingham

Silver Medal – Zeta: Memories of Home by Anastasia Yakovleva

There is so much to see and do whilst at the show such as the Floral Marquee which is full to the brim of stunning plants you can buy from unusual pelargoniums by local nursery Fibrex Nursery to air plants and cottage garden favourites – and everything you can possibly think of and more! It really is a plant heaven and you can spend ages browsing and chatting with the nurseries.

The schools gardens are also a treat to see – it’s so nice to see young people getting into gardening and is filled with enthusiasm with their works of art.

There’s also plenty of shopping for everything you need for your garden from machinery, to glasshouses to ornaments and water features. There is so much to see and do which makes this event a real highlight on the calendar and well worth visiting.

cor ten steel sign

Macmillan show garden RHS Malvern 2019


Hooksgreen herbs blackcurrant mint

RHS Malvern floral marquee echeveria



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BBC Gardeners World Live Beautiful Border, Jar of Life

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

This was my first ever visit to the show and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but WOW it was amazing. No matter where you looked, everything was immaculate including the trade stands – which all get judged as well as the show gardens.

Here are my highlights:

I love colour and sculptures so the garden by David Harber and Savills Garden was one of my favourites.  It only received a bronze award, which I was very surprised about, but after watching the review on TV it made sense – it was due to planting damp loving plants in a dry setting and also the heights of plants. I bet the designer and team were really disappointed as so much time and hard work will have gone into creating it.

David Harber Chelsea Flower show

David Harber Chelsea Flower Show

The garden by Sarah Price for M&G had fabulous pots and the overall colour scheme was very earthy and warm which I found really relaxing.  Thankfully I was able to see the garden early in the morning before the crowds arrived. It was awarded a gold medal and deservedly so.

M&G garden Sarah Price Chelsea flower show

M&G garden Sarah Price Chelsea Flower show

Artisan garden by The Claims Guys, designed by Janine Crimmins won the People’s Choice Award and a silver gilt medal. It’s a garden you could recreate at home, which made it stand out from the other gardens. The dry stone walling was stunning and Andrew Loudon did an amazing job.

Janine Crimmins The Claims Guys Chelsea Flower Show

After listening to Chris Beardshaws presentation at RHS Malvern about the garden he was building at Chelsea, I was keen to see the end result as the story behind it was really interesting. The garden was sponsored by M&G for the NSPCC and won a gold medal and best show garden. I got shouted at by a photographer as I was under a tree canopy and I didn’t realise automatic flash was on my camera and the flash went off – I looked up and saw Kelly Brook was being filmed on the garden. Whoops! I apologised and left quickly. How embarrassing.

Kelly Brook Chris Beardshaw NSPCC

chris beardshaw NSPCC chelsea flower show

The Welcome to Yorkshire garden was really lovely and won a gold medal, best in show and also the best construction award. Again, it was a very naturalistic garden that made you feel right at home, but no doubt took a great deal of thought and planning to achieve.

Mark Gregory welcome to yorkshire chelsea flower show

welcome to yorkshire chelsea flower show

Here’s a few more photos of the show…

LG eco-city garden chelsea flower show

Myeloma garden chelsea flower show

Seedlip garden chelsea flower show

Tony Woods urban flow garden chelsea flower show

Weston Garden Tom Stuart-smith chelsea flower show

Plant of the year goes to….

Hydrangea 'Runaway Bride' chelsea flower show


I’d like to give a shout-out to my fabulous network of fellow designers and creators – so proud of you all, as it takes hard work, passion, commitment and amazing talent to get to Chelsea (or any RHS show for that matter!)

Robert Barker – garden & landscape designer

Robert Barker Chelsea Flower Show

Laura Jayne Fisk – fellow #SBS winner and twitter chum who designs and makes fabulous homewares

Laura Jayne Fisk Chelsea Flower Show

My chum Lou has a wonderful herd of alpacas and has turned their poo into an amazing business with a brilliant name of Lou’s Poo which is an organic fertiliser and is brilliant!

Lous poos alpaca fertiliser

My friend Hilary has an amazing nursery specialising in Eucalyptus trees – I never knew there were so many varieties!

Eucalyptus grafton nursery chelsea flower show

and lastly, the whole reason I went to Chelsea was to meet Brad from Solus Decor, who are providing the water feature for my ‘Beautiful Border’ at BBC Gardeners’ World Live in June 2018. My other sponsor is Screen With Envy – and you can see both products in action here

solus screen with envy


I had a brilliant time at Chelsea – and I can recommend it to anyone as the quality of every build and design is exceptional – I was blown away by it all! It’s a very very impressive event.

If you would like to know more about the gardens and the story behind them – have a read over on the RHS website

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Pink floral border

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2018

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2018

Get yourself along to this year’s festival – its theme this year is inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851 where Malvern water flowed through the magnificent crystal ‘Schweppes Fountain’, the centerpiece of the opening ceremony.

There are some stunning gardens and floral exhibits along with a fabulous food hall and plenty of shopping – so there is something for everyone.

As a garden designer my focus is on the gardens and there are some absolutely beautiful and inspiring gardens to see.

Show Gardens

The ‘Best in Show’ award went to the very talented Ruth Gwynn and Alan Williams for their ‘Perfumers Garden’ – and they also received a Gold Award too – very well deserved as the attention to detail is impressive.

The planting included Iris, Rose, Basil, Citrus and Lavender along with pencil cypress.

Alan Williams, Ruth Gwynn

The Perfumers Garden

The Perfumers Garden

Another favourite is the garden by Graduate Gardeners Ltd with eye-catching brightly coloured plants – including purple alliums, dark cow parsley and grasses which all show up against the dramatic black painted boardwalk and water. They were awarded a Silver-Gilt medal.

Urban Oasis show garden RHS Malvern

wild flower garden

Gold medal garden designer Martyn Wilson created ‘Memories of Service’ supporting the RAF100 Appeal, beautifully planted with blue Camassias, purple Pittosporum and topiary balls with a red white and blue colour scheme to represent the RAF. I found it hard to peer over the top of the hedges to view the garden but it was designed to give an intimate feel to the space.

RAF garden by Martyn Wilson

Another favourite was The Dew Pond by Christian Dowle – I love his style of design as it makes me feel at peace and relaxed. The garden was designed to create a natural setting that attracts wildlife and that is sustainable and productive. There are 5 parts to the garden – an orchard, woodland, front garden, meadow & wall and a dew pond. They were awarded a silver medal.

The Dew Pond, Christian Dowle

purple flower

A Gold Medal and Best Construction was awarded to Peter Dowle of Howle Hill Nursery who created ‘Spirit of the Wood’ which was another show-stopping garden with some magnificent sculptures by Simon Gudgeon. Plants included lots of Japanese maple Acers, which were under-planted with lots of ferns and grasses for lots of texture and interest.

Other show gardens include:

‘From Over the Fence’ by Jonathan Bishop. Bronze Medal

‘Bovis Homes Family Garden’ by Design It Landscapes. Silver Medal

‘Royal Porcelain Works Ltd: The Collectors Garden’ by Big Fish Landscapes. Silver Gilt Medal

‘Greenhance: The Garden in the Egg’ by Jonas Egger. Gold Medal

‘Billy’s Cave’ by Villaggio Verde. Gold Medal

Olivia Kirk, Royal Porcelain Works

Green Living Spaces

I was particularly interested in seeing the ‘Green Living Spaces’ gardens as these have been specifically created to bring ‘big gardening inspiration to small spaces’ and help the #generationrent & first-time buyers green up their lives.

There are 4 gardens in this category:

‘The Salad Deck’ by Andy Bending – Silver Gilt Medal.

‘Outside Number 39’ by elaine Portch – Gold Medal & Best Green Living Spaces Award

‘Grow, dine & relax’ by Anne Keenan – Bronze Medal

‘The Urban Escape’ by Sebastian Conrad – Bronze Medal

Elaine Portch show garden RHS Malvern

balcony garden

I had a lovely conversation with Sebastian about his garden. He is currently studying at Pershore Horticultural College and is so passionate about his plants and exhibiting at RHS Malvern. His garden was created to provide a sense of relaxation by using lush green ferns along with white flowers. However, I loved the vibrant colourful section with corals and bright orange flowers.

The Floral Marquee

The Floral Marquee was as fabulous as ever. Master Grower this year is Avon Bulbs, who are a multi gold medal winning nursery specialising in rare and unusual bulbs. Particular interest is the 6 varieties of Camassia including the ‘Stellar Pink’ variety.

Avon Bulbs

As usual local Fibrex Nurseries were exhibiting and won 2 Gold Medals for their Pelargoniums and Ferns & Ivies. They are also celebrating their 60 year anniversary in June! I love visiting their nursery in Pebworth and I’m using their ‘Lady Plymouth’ variety in my show garden border at Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC in June. Not only does it smell amazing, but the leaves are variegated with grey/cream colours. Beautiful! They are hosting their Plant Party on the weekend of 16/17th June and have lots of talks and workshops for you to attend – more information click here: however, this is the same weekend as Gardeners’ World Live, so plan your weekend wisely!!!

I was also impressed by Andy’s Air Plants and Scamp’s Quality Daffodils. Also Pershore based Hayloft Plants had a lovely display where you can buy unusual plants. How could you fail to miss the dazzling lilies by Hart’s Nursery – the size of the blooms was spectacular and the smell was divine! There are so many plants to choose from that there’s no way to pick ‘favourites’ but the Auriculars are so pretty.

air plants



It’s a great place to chat with the growers too and you may even bump into a celebrity gardener or two! Here’s the lovely Carol Klein with award winning Surreal Succulents.

Carol Klein, Gardeners World, Surreal Succulents

The Great Pavilion of Art and Flowers

Even if you’re not into floristry, this is the pavilion you MUST visit as it’s full of spectacular floral artistry. When you walk in the first thing you see is the Morgan Car decorated with outstanding designed flowers. The photographs don’t do it justice as it really is a fantastic piece of art.

Morgan Cars RHS Malvern, Floral art

You can’t fail to be inspired by floral artist Jonathan Moseley who is giving daily talks and demonstrations over the weekend. I’m sure you’ll learn lots of tips and tricks on how to decorate your home with fabulous British grown cut flowers.

Jonathan Moseley florist

School Gardens

I loved the school gardens – hopefully it will inspire the next generation to develop their love of gardens, horticulture and being outside. Here are three gardens which I thought were wonderful as I loved their attention to detail!

Three Counties Home Educators – The Beatrix Potter Garden

Tudor Grange Academy, Worcester – Suspended Innovation

Greenfields Primary School, Kettering – A Very British Tea Party

Beatrix Potter Garden

The Festival Theatre

I got to listen to Chris Beardshaw present his show garden project which he is currently building the Morgan Stanley garden for the NSPCC at the forthcoming RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It was inspiring to hear how an experienced garden designer approaches the project and comes up with an amazing garden to showcase the work of the NSPCC. I can’t wait to see it.

Chris Beardshaw garden designer


I also bumped into Joe Swift & Adam Frost – there will be plenty of celebrity gardeners for you to meet and talk to at the event – check the Festival Theatre agenda.

Jpe Swift, Adam Frost, Gardeners World

There is really so much to do and see at the show that I’ve not even had chance to talk about here, such as the Grow Zone, Food Hall and the Master Craftsmen. It’s a wonderful show to gain ideas, inspiration and ‘how to’ advice – so my top tip is to make sure you have plenty of time and make sure you wear comfy shoes!

The show is open 10th to the 13th May,

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Greening Grey Britain

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) launched a campaign to improve our homes with simple planting. It doesn’t have to be Chelsea Flower Show standard – it can be a windowbox or hanging basket which can be easily changed in each season.  You could also use a large pot or a border, which can be filled with pretty flowers by sowing annual seeds, plant cuttings or with established shrubs from your local garden centre.

The RHS are encouraging us to plant more for various reasons, not only does it improve air quality in towns and cities, but it can support our wildlife and insects, which are crucial in the pollination process. Around 90% of our plants require pollination by insects (and the wind) which creates our food and ultimately our livelihood.

Butterflies are among our prettiest garden visitors, but they’re dwindling in numbers: according to a Butterfly Conservation report published in 2015, The State of Britain’s Butterflies, three-quarters of UK butterflies have shown a 10-year decrease in their population levels. The Greening Grey Britain plan is to reverse this trend and encourage homeowners to create more green spaces to encourage our wildlife and insects.

Many homes have paved over their driveways, which means surface water has nowhere to drain to. By making some simple changes, our front gardens can become pretty and welcoming as well as functional. Space is usually at a premium, so why not add a climbing plant, in a container by the front door, such as a Jasmine which is evergreen and the flowers smell divine. Instead of slabs or concrete paving, use gravel with a porous membrane. Utilise the corners by adding a shrub or container, in a style and colour scheme that co-ordinates with your front door.

These are some simple ideas to transform your front garden which will make your outdoor space a nicer place to live and a welcome back home with some great kerb appeal!

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Nikki HollierFounder of Border in a Box
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