Inspiring designs for Malvern Spring Festival

Leading designers are set to create 10 spectacular show gardens as one of the highlights of the 2018 RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

Reckless Gardener takes a peek at the wide range of designs for this year’s show gardens – always popular with visitors to the festival. The show gardens at Malvern have gained an outstanding reputation over the years and 2018 will be no exception with show favourites Peter Dowle and Villaggio Verde returning as well as Christian Dowle, Mark Draper and Ruth Gwynn, alongside new faces in Olivia Kirk and Dan Ryan. Travelling all the way from Russia, as part of the RHS Malvern exchange programme, is Jonas Egger, who will bring his dramatic garden design inside a huge mechanical egg.

The Spirit of the Woods designed by Peter Dowle (pictured banner above) features three Simon Gudgeon sculptures in a garden that explores our spiritual connection with nature. A serene face in a stone grotto looks over a small pool surrounded with moss and ferns against a backdrop of oak woodland with the Malvern Hills behind. A ballerina made from more than 1,000 copper leaves dances in the breeze and The Whispering Spirit invites visitors to listen to her lips and hear an echo of water. The garden will move to Kew Gardens after the show.

Urban Oasis by Mark Draper offers a contemporary garden designed for a young, trendy professional looking for a space to switch off at the end of the day. It offers a funky, modern looking space with movement and pings of colour throughout the design. Elements include a space to sit and relax beneath a pergola. Boardwalks create movement, as a journey within the garden, linking the house to the sitting area. Reflective dark pools contrast with the soft, modern meadow planting scheme, with bright yellow design details and plants, such as Euphorbia epithymoides and Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’, selected to lift the spirit.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal winning garden designer, Olivia Kirk, is creating The Collectors Garden, (pictured above) her first Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival, which celebrates 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 redeveloped 21st century role as the Henry Sandon Hall.

The Perfumer’s Garden designed by Ruth Gwynn and Alan Williams (pictured above) is inspired by this year’s RHS Malvern theme of The Great Exhibition of 1851 and the way exhibitors showed off their products from raw materials through to finished products. Here, in this whimsical shop, the designer imagines a process where the perfumer collects his scents from plants behind his shop through funnels and tubes and turns them into bottles of beautiful fragrances.

The lore and romanticism around dew ponds captured Christian Dowle’s imagination and his desire to create a restful and still atmosphere. In The Dew Pond, he creates a timber clad garden room with a green solar panel roof and includes fruit trees, including Herefordshire Russet reflecting the importance of gardens as productive spaces.

Billy Cave brings a small-holding in rural Portugal to RHS Malvern with his Villaggio Verde garden, featuring a cave, complete with natural spring and a goat paddock, lined with old olive trees. The herder’s wife’s garden is full of shrubs, herbs, aromatics and fruit trees, which is protected from the hungry goats!

A garden marking the centenary of the RAF will feature four elliptical pathways to represent the blades of Spitfires and Hurricanes. (pictured above) Designed by Martyn Wilson, Memories of Service, will feature topiary balls to evoke the radar of RAF Fylingdales and the former RAF Defford at Pershow. A sculpture made from turbine blades will form a centrepiece surrounded by hedges evoking linear vapor trails.

Jonathan Bishop is designing From Over the Fence with wooden sculptures of a stag and two deer by James Doran-Webb taking centre stage in this garden backing onto woodland. They are part of a scene that shows wildlife wandering into a garden via a broken fence. After the show the animals, made from driftwood, will be trotted along to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The Garden in The Egg designed by Jonas Egger, is the world’s first garden inside a 3.5m metal egg. (pictured above) A symbol of life, the garden design is inspired by Faberge eggs and opens to music, light, fog and water effects and then closes again. Every time the egg opens, the visitor will be able to feel the inspiration of the moment a new life is born. The design shows the contrast between a closed rustic egg and a bright and colourful garden. This is a spectacle all the way from Russia, as part of RHS Malvern’s pioneering exchange programme, with performance at its heart.

The Bovis Homes Family Garden is designed by Dan Ryan and is based on a new home in a Cotswolds housing development. A modern garden, with sandstone paving, Cotswold stone walling, built-in seating and Pleached Hornbeams, the garden has a kinetic Corten steel magnolia leaf sculpture to add movement along with a specially chosen selection of grasses.

RHS Malvern Spring Festival takes place from Thursday 10 May until Sunday 13 May. Tickets are now on sale. Free entry for children under the age of 16 is available throughout the festival. For more information on ticket prices, please call 0844 811 0050 (calls cost 7p per minute plus network extras) or visit