OK, well I have committed myself now. I am off to the Malvern Show at the beginning of May and will be meeting other garden bloggers there too. I'm one of those people who combines a passionate interest in gardening with not much experience of showgoing. I'm certainly not a hardened showgoer. I went to Hampton Court once and to Tatton Park a couple of years ago and that is it. I enjoyed both but somehow I haven't made the jump to going back for another visit to either place or to putting visiting shows onto my calendar. I wonder if there are particular shows which appeal to particular people? If so, maybe Malvern is the one for me.
I have always liked the idea of Malvern. I love the Malvern hills which must be part of the attraction and the fact that it is not a huge show like Chelsea makes it seem easier to dip into. I also like the idea of an early show. I am a spring person, galvanised out of my winter torpor by the lengthening days and the increasing warmth. I love spring bulbs and blossom and the whole sense of the garden warming and waking and thrusting into life. I am slowly learning to love autumn too but my natural inclination for much of my gardening life has been to burst into life in early March, pacing my garden looking for growth and sowing many of my seeds much too early because I just can't wait. By the middle of August I used to be well and truly over that first flush of excitement. Year after year the scrappy notebooks which I call my gardening diaries (but are really just notes of what I planted) start off all energy and detail in the spring and tail off tiredly to nothing in August. I have learnt at long last how to get over that hump and to love the autumn but my heart still really belongs to spring.
Malvern is billed as a spring show and, right at the beginning of May, still firmly has its feet in spring so perhaps it is the show for me. I am not a great fan of show gardens though. I will certainly look at them all and will wander about and doubtless I will find ideas and inspiration but what I'm really going for is the chance to visit the displays by nurseries and plant breeders. All my favourite places to buy plants are small nurseries run by people who really love what they are doing and really know their plants inside out in a way that a dabbler like me will never achieve. It is just fantastic to have them all together under one roof and to be able, if they seem to want to and its not too frantically busy, to talk to growers. I don't have the easiest gardening conditions here. We are quite high and the soil is thin and stony but we grow vast quantities of flowers, fruit and vegetables through a combination of feeding the soil for veg and growing what likes us for everything else. I have never found a real grower who was anything other than entirely honest about the kind of conditions his plants like. I've even been sent away from a nursery empty handed by someone who was quite sure his thalictrums would not like my hillside. I love that. Just the way it should be.
I'm also hugely looking forward to meeting other bloggers. I have been blogging for three years now and have met a few of my fellow bloggers but this will be the first time I will know for sure that I can have a three hour gardening conversation and not bore someone witless. Actually that might be a bit optimistic. I would slide under the table if trapped into listening to someone tell me how to keep the perfect lawn and I am quite sure that I could send someone to sleep myself with my fascination for growing things which I think are both useful and beautiful, which so frequently seems to mean apples. I'm really looking forward to seeing people who I met through blogging but now regard as friends like Zoe and Karen and also to meeting people who feel like friends already but who I have never seen in the flesh. I'm hoping that, as well as good gardens, there will be good food, good wine, good conversation and no karaoke.