History and modernity to mix in Malvern Garden

The Collectors Garden‘, designed by Olivia Kirk, will bring a blend of Victorian and Millennial gardening to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival to celebrate the re-development of The Royal Porcelain Works (RPW) in Worcester.

The innovative garden design provides an inspiring mix of history and modernity, by linking the Victorian heritage of the show room on the RPW site, which opened in 1851, with its re-developed 21st Century role as the Henry Sandon Hall – a centre for the performing arts and modern craftsmanship.

Olivia’s planting scheme will celebrate the modern cultivars of plants and shrubs collected by Victorian plant hunters such as Nandina domestica, introduced by William Kerr in 1804 and Magnolia stellate, brought from Japan by Robert Fortune in 1840. These will be complemented with new introductions from modern plant collectors, including species from Crug Farm Plants.

The design incorporates five stone plinths, three of which display glass bell jars, containing historic Royal Worcester pieces, which are painted with horticultural designs. Two further plinths will display bespoke Terrariums, which has been designed by Olivia, based on an original Wardian Case design. The Terrariums have been made in collaboration with the London Terrarium Company and despite their Victorian design influence, their contemporary design brings gardening right up to date, illustrating how young millennial gardeners known as “generation rent’ can still engage with nature.

All the plants from the garden will be relocated to a garden, also designed by Olivia, within the central courtyard of the new RPW.

Commenting, Olivia said: “I am extremely excited about creating a Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival this year, as this is my local show and it has always been close to my heart, with its majestic backdrop of the Malvern Hills. The Festival’s theme this year highlights Malvern’s fascinating links with the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, and this fitted perfectly with my idea for a garden that celebrates the Victorian heritage of the new Royal Porcelain Works development in Worcester. What I have really enjoyed is creating a design which, like the redevelopment of the RPW, marries the best of its Victorian heritage with the design innovations of contemporary living.”

The Collectors Garden is sponsored by the Royal Porcelain Works Limited and Chairman, Colin Kinnear OBE is delighted to be working with Olivia on their garden at RHS Malvern and hopes that the garden will help raise awareness of the major new RPW development in Worcester: “What’s more, visitors to RHS Malvern will be able to enjoy the beautiful planting from The Collectors Garden for many years to come, when the garden is relocated to the RPW, which officially opens to the public at the end of June 2018,” he said.

Olivia Kirk runs a design practice in Herefordshire and is the winner of three RHS Chelsea Medals including Gold. She works with private clients on garden designs for individual homes, as well as on larger landscaping schemes for public and civic institutions.

The RHS Malvern Spring Festival runs from 10th to 13th May 2018.