Project: First show garden
Andy Bending created his award-winning Salad Deck garden at RHS Malvern 2018
The SGD sent an email in December asking people to get involved in the new Green Living Spaces gardens at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival. I thought it would be an exciting challenge and a great opportunity to express my design ideas. I had recently trained in planting design at the Cotswold Gardening School, where they encouraged us to create show gardens.
Green Living Spaces is an exciting new category for the RHS Malvern show. Food growing is a passion of mine, so I wanted my garden, ‘The Salad Deck’, to be an example of how to grow food in a small space. All the plants used were edible and included an espaliered apple tree, a living wall of salad leaves, herbs and edible flowers. I chose to use Angelica in the garden as it has beautiful, architectural flowerheads. I wanted to get it close up to the wall to make the most of the lovely shadow it cast on the porcelain cladding behind; it was a brave move to use it in a pot, but it worked.
I wanted to include artwork in the garden. The etched seedhead design on the arch was the work of Steph Renshaw, founder of Bristol Print Room. Steph’s eco-friendly etching technique is in keeping with my business ethos. Each panel is an original piece, normally used in a printing press to transfer its image onto paper. Using these plates brought light and interest into the archway.
A last-minute change to the allocation of show garden spaces meant I needed to redesign my 5x3m garden to fit an entirely different space – this was challenging, but ultimately improved the design.
I had some funding from the show organisers, but the garden was mostly self-funded – I did look for a sponsor, but as it was my first show garden, it was difficult to persuade anyone to take the project on. However I had lots of support – Matt Hockin, founder of MTH Creations, volunteered for several days to help construct the deck. I also had a great team of eager friends; we worked together to create the rest of the garden – hard work in all weathers, but good fun.
The show itself was an intense four days, with lots of people engaging and asking questions. People liked the garden and I was honoured to win the People’s Choice Award for the Green Living Spaces category, as well as a Silver-Gilt medal from the judges.
Creating a show garden has been good for business: I’ve had enquiries about new jobs, and I’ve also got work through local clients who saw the garden when it featured on Gardeners’ World.