Worcestershire garden centre takes gold at top gardening show

IT might have been wet and windy outside, but a Worcestershire garden centre brought some warm love to the UK’s first major horticultural event of 2014.

Cooks Garden Centre of Stourport on Severn was awarded a gold medal for its exhibit at RHS Malvern Spring Festival, producing the largest ever display in the event’s 28 year history centred around a stunning collection of hydrangeas.

“We’ve introduced three new varieties this year,” explained garden centre owner Paul Cook. “In particular, one is a lovely soft, warm pink plant called Love. So you could say we’ve brought love to Malvern.”

The opening day of the four day event certainly needed it too, as rain lashed the open spaces of the Three Counties Showground.

However with much experience of coping with the fickle spring weather, joint organisers the Royal Horticultural Society and the Three Counties Agricultural Society now have much of the show under cover.

Centre piece is the Malvern Floral Marquee, where Cook’s Garden Centre took a week to build a massive 10 metre square stand and pack it with plants.

“We’ve been exhibiting every year since the first show way back in 1986,” Mr Cook added. “So we thought we’d make a special effort this year and it’s really paid off.”

As well as gold for Cooks, RHS judges awarded gold medals to two other long time Worcestershire exhibitors, Grange Farm Nursery of Guarlford, near Malvern and Owens Bros (of Worcester) based at Bevere.

Grange Farm, which is run by Carol and Rollin Nicholls, called their display ‘The Artist’s Garden’ after being inspired by a visit to Monet’s garden in France last year, while Owens Bros, which has never been out of the medals during the history of the show, scored again with an immaculate display of conifers.

Best in show in the Floral Marquee, which contained entries from 80 of the top nurseries in the UK, was Drointon Nurseries of Ripon, North Yorkshire with a display of primulas and the judges gave the “most creative exhibit” award to Crescent Plants of Marden, near Leominster, which again featured primulas.

Ken Nottage, TCAS chief executive, said the event had been “refreshed” this year to give it a new vitality after a survey revealed the average age of visitors was 57.

“We have sharpened up the content and introduced more of a food element, including demonstrations by celebrity chef James Martin,” he added.

“The show will go up another level next year, without, of course, diluting the horticultural element which remains at its heart..”

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