Back in January I was contacted by Hannah Genders, a garden designer and organiser of the new Grow Zone section of the Malvern Spring Show. The Grow Zone will be home to several groups all producing food in ways that are far from mainstream farming, but are still doing so, very successfully. It's an exciting departure for the RHS and one I'm extremely excited to be a part of both personally and with Incredible Edible. She was hoping that I would go along and make 2 very small, 1m by 2m raised bed gardens in the Grow Zone, one representing Incredible Edible Bristol and the other talking of British flowers, edible flowers and pollinator rich flowers.
Of course it's always safe to come and ask me to do things like this as I find it beyond impossible to say no, although to say this has been a challenge is a bit of an understatement. I'm no newbie to growing for the big RHS shows, particularly RHS Chelsea where our nurseries proximity to the M40 and good relations with a lot of the designers, meant we were in the thick of Chelsea prep for a lot of the year, but having four acres of nursery space makes it a whole lot easier than doing it from a suburban back garden in south Bristol! However, I can report the plants are doing well, except the camassias which were beheaded by the dreadful wind, and tomorrow we'll be crating them up ready for the off.
Mexican Tree Spinach ready to go....
But still it's nerve wracking. I'm a strong believer in facing your fears but having been unmercifully bullied in my last two nursery jobs I now realise those voices telling me I know nothing, I'm not interested in plants, I'm not interested in gardens etc etc haven't really gone away completely and this last week have been really loud. To say I'm facing my demons is a complete understatement.
I am lucky. I have an incredible ( all puns intended) team around me, supporting and taking on all of the logistics so I could concentrate on growing and design. I know I've been hard work and for the last week or two the phrase "it'll have to be post Malvern" feels like the only thing I've said. In case any of them are reading this, thank you guys-you all brighten my day, every day.
Calendula! Ideal for health, for food and for bees. Plus those smiley faces always make me happy...
But the hardest thing? All I want to do is pick up the phone and call mum and say guess what?!? I know she would have been intensely proud but, with the 15th anniversary of her dying just round the corner, as in the week after the show, I feel utterly bereft that she'll never know.
However, onwards and upwards. The hours are ticking by, and soon we'll be off on our very exciting adventure. And if anyone wants me to do a bigger garden next year or in the future, I wholeheartedly say bring it on!!
Alliums-good for people, for bees and for beauty!