14th May, 2015
The green-fingered exhibitors behind the gardens – who range from a gardening writer to students and a hotel kitchen gardener – have come up with inspirational designs for small spaces, which will be unveiled to the public when the show opens on May 27.
One garden is the brainchild of head kitchen gardener Ollie Hutson from celebrated hotel The PIG, at Hunstrete, near Bath, where homegrown crops play a vital part in the restaurant’s focus on using fresh, local and foraged produce.
Ollie said: “Our garden will be planted with a selection of plants currently found growing in our kitchen garden. These will include edible flowers, vegetables and herbs. We will also be showcasing some of our potted herbs and vegetables, which we use to decorate our conservatory restaurant.
“We market ourselves as a restaurant with rooms, sourcing most of our fruit and vegetables from our extensive and carefully restored kitchen garden. Most other ingredients are sourced within a 25-mile radius of the hotel.”
Somerset-based market gardener and award-winning writer Charles Dowding will be inviting visitors to set down their shovels and learn the secrets of “no-dig” plots at his pop-up garden.
Charles will be working with fellow no-dig gardener Stephanie Hafferty to demonstrate the technique, in which a layer of compost is simply spread on top of undisturbed soil, grass and weeds to allow sowing and planting to begin straight away.
He said: “When creating my pop-up garden there will be no need to dig or rotavate first, so although it will be a temporary show garden, it could stay there and grow great veg for many years! In late May there are still few vegetables to harvest; it’s a ‘hungry gap’ between the stored produce and final harvests of winter crops, and the first pickings from spring sowings. The plants you will see have been raised under cover, a few with extra warmth.”
Meanwhile two students from Bridgwater College will be putting their skills into practice as they aim to inspire other young people to grab their spades and start growing their own.
Fionn Rossiter and Sid Morris, both 19 and studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture, have designed a plot inspired by the historic Walled Gardens of Cannington where they study – as well as Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden in Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
The pair’s pop-up plot will feature vegetables, annual flowers and herbaceous plants grown on from cuttings at the college’s Cannington Centre and they said: “Our inspiration has come from the Walled Gardens of Cannington and our love of growing plants to eat. We want to inspire young people, like ourselves, to grow their own food but also to appreciate the beauty of a rustic, ‘old-fashioned’ kitchen garden. We are showcasing the heritage of vegetable growing that we believe needs to be passed on to our generation.”
The pop-up gardens, the fourth one of which will be designed by Somerset landscaper Julian Shave, will be among the attractions at the show’s Horticulture Village.
The area will host the new-look Horticultural Display marquee with 10 nursery exhibitors, as well as the Instant Garden Challenge, in which two teams a day will create a 3mx3m garden from scratch.
Meanwhile an exciting new project called Thriving Trolleys has begun, working in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society and Waitrose. The theme is Health and Happiness and the RHS has provided schools with seeds so they can create a “Thriving Trolley” display at the showground with the plants they have grown.
One of the permanent formal gardens will be the home of Coates English Willow and the Willows & Wetland Centre.
Alan Lyons, Show Manager, said: “We are delighted to be working with this well-known family, who have been working the withies of the Somerset Levels since 1819.
“All aspects of willow work will be included in this new feature, including basket making, stripping the willow, charcoal making and interactive experiences for children as part of the show’s Family Trail.
“We listened to what our visitors had to say after the show in 2014 and they were disappointed that the Floral Marquee wasn’t there; it was clearly part of people’s day at the show as well as being a meeting point for others.
“We are bringing it back and it will be an important part of the Horticulture Village. We are working with nurseries and will be introducing pop-up gardens as well as having our Instant Garden Challenge involving students from colleges across the West Country. There will also be lots of activities for adults and children.”
The Horticulture Village is supported by Jacksons Fencing, Smith Williamson and Adrian Guise.
2015 also marks 50 years since The Showground became the permanent home for the Royal Bath and West Show.
Highlights include the British Cheese Awards, British Cider Championships, Ladies’ Day featuring Farm Woman of the Year and the National South Devon Show.
Advance saver ticket prices from April 8, 2015-May 26, 2015 are £19 for an adult including two children admitted free, £5 for additional child.
Gate prices are £22 adult, £7 child and £49 family and new for 2015 £20 Concessions with proof of ID for disabled/carers, students and senior citizens