There were some great school gardens at RHS Malvern this year. I love these gardens and the idea that young children can get the chance to not only design their own garden, but to come on site and help to build it as well. Here are some pictures of my favourites:
I love the use of old school props (top left) such as the old wooden desk and the old tennis rackets. The commemorative garden (top left) is simple and effective - it tells a strong story.
The miniature house in this garden (above left) really caught my eye, complete with its' own green roof. The Gloucester garden (above right) made me smile -it has an element of fun and simplicity about it that shows a real inclusion of the children in the process. And my favourite element of all of the school gardens? A rusty old bed mattress used as a support for climbing plants - I might be using that idea at home!
Winner of The People's Choice Award 2014: The Quiet Garden is voted the public's favourite show garden
As the last day of the show drew to a close, the Celebrity Theatre was gearing up to make an announcement: the winner of the People's Choice Show Garden 2014. Throughout the show, visitors have had the opportunity to vote for their favourite show garden.
The connection that people seemed to have with our garden was amazing and we knew that many had voted for us over the last few days...but we didn't know how that compared to the other gardens on site. As the day came to a close, it was Patrick Swan who was on site to receive a quiet tap on the shoulder and a request that the team come into the Celebrity Theatre. Taking a seat at the back, TV Garden Celebrities Carol Klein and James Alexander Sinclair finished their Gardener's Question Time session and introduced the award in true Oscar-nomination style with a sealed envelope in hand...
And the winner is "A Quiet Garden!"
Patrick graciously received the award and said a few words of thanks - to all those who visited our garden and voted for us; to all of those who helped to create and staff the garden (over 22 people in all) and to all who saw the story in the garden - it really is a garden to be quiet in. And so the show draws to a close and breakdown begins...until next time!
The RHS Malvern Show this year had some amazing gardens created by schools. Here's a few pictures of my favourites:
I love the intricate model house (top left) complete with its' very own green roof; the simple story of the Poppy Garden (top middle) and the fun use of old school props such as the wooden desk and tennis rackets (top right). And this Gloucester garden (above)...well, I think its just great fun!
And which feature might I copy in my own garden one day?....a rusty old mattress to form a growing support for climbers (below) - I love all the spirals, it is very effective and illustrates recycling in practice too!
A group of local school children visited the Quiet Garden today and had fun finding out all about the garden, the Quiet Garden Trust and the meaning behind the intricate path in the gravel.
The meditation path is designed to be walked on along the cobbles and the children had great fun concentrating on where their feet were headed. The weather improved and the crowds gathered around the garden; visitors to the show today included celebrity chef Rachel Allen, Philip Roderick (Founder-Director of the Trust) and the former Bishop of Hereford.
When someone is brought to tears as a garden touches their soul you know that you have created something special. The garden seems to be speaking to people in different but powerful ways; One lady told of a time she spent in a Buddhist garden when she was ill - our garden reminded her of that time; the same energy, peace and sense of sanctuary. It brought tears to her eyes. Another lady told of the time she spent exploring labyrinths and how this garden perfectly represented her personal experience and journey. A Muslim lady explained that the keyhole shape at the entrance to the garden (wide to allow two people to enter the paths of the labyrinth) represented eternal life in their spiritual gardens. It speaks to people on different spiritual paths which is amazing.
The garden was awarded a Bronze Medal. The feedback from the judges was felt to be lacking in specific detail this year, which is unusual in my experience. In their opinion, nothing big seemed to be a problem with the garden, so the Bronze was a bit unexpected and we were left feeling slightly perplexed as to the reasons why. However, the public response has been astounding and the opportunity the charity has at the show to engage with new people and to tell their story is amazing.
The garden has received a good amount of media interest. It was featured on BBC Midlands Today with an interview with Ken Nottage (Chief Executive of the Three Counties Showground), photographs were taken by journalists and BBC Gardeners World filmed Joe Swift in the garden - make sure you watch tonight...you just might spot us!
And so it came to the final day of preparations... and what a difference a day of detail makes!
It was great to be back on site with the team and amongst the plants again. Seeing them in situ was wonderful; the planting team have done an excellent job and the colours and textures flow through the garden almost without you noticing. It is calm, restful, and peaceful; a true sanctuary in the hustle and bustle of the showground. The water from the fountain sends out ripples on the surface of the pool and its sound distracts from the noise around. The meditation path beckons and as you follow its route it brings you past the plants again and again; new views are opened up from different perspectives revealing some really lovely planting combinations.
The final layer of Cotswold stone gravel was topped up and it brought a magical fishing touch to the space; the beautiful Stonemarket vintage stone setts suddenly took on a life of their own and as the warm evening shadows of the Betula pendula leaves started to dance on the cream stone pillars the garden seemed to suddenly cry
'Be Still...I am complete.'
And so tomorrow brings some new visitors to our garden in the form of Show Judges. I hope they love the garden as much as we do.
Although all three of us have been involved in this garden, today was actually the first day we had all been together on site.
Our collaboration has been truly remarkable and without it, the garden would not have come together as it has.
Mary-Anne Hall and Jay Ashworth have been looking after the garden over the last few days and Jay joined us again today (with her excellent gingerbread cake; thanks it has kept us going all day!) I wonder what tomorrow will hold...
Labyrinths have been used for centuries as a method for calming and focussing the mind. The concentration required to undertake the journey forces other thoughts to recede, allowing the mind to enter a calmer state as the path is followed. A number of Quiet Gardens around the world use labyrinth patterns in this way, combining them with points of rest where material is purposefully placed to encourage the visitor to pray, meditate or simply read a poem or prose which encourages the mind to be still or to contemplate for a while.
The pattern in our Quiet Garden is slightly unusual in that the path does not reach the true centre of the garden (which is the water fountain in the pond) and two different paths could be used to gain entry. However, it has been likened to a reconciliation labyrinth as Kristina explains:
"Our garden has been likened to a reconciliation labyrinth. Each of the protagonists enters by a separate path and makes their way into the garden, treading carefully along the line of stones and concentrating on the turns in the path. As they go the mind begins to still and become focussed. They meet at the resting stone where they can sit side by side for a while, connect with the garden and each-other and be silent together or talk. They can then choose whether to leave the labyrinth together by the same route, or go their separate ways in peace."
Quiet Gardens often open their gardens on set dates as part of an organised retreat or open day. To find out more about visiting a Quiet Garden visit: www.quietgarden.org
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I am a garden designer based in the Staffordshire Moorlands and love inspiring children and adults alike to explore and enjoy the outdoors!
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