Fantastic 'Countrytastic', and Malvern Gardening Show preview

hot hazy sunshine as families descend on the Malvern Showground for an enjoyable hands-on countryside day out at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern
Watching the happy faces of so many young children enjoying the activities at 'Countrytastic' on the Malvern Showground was a real treat; seeing families participating in all that was available on such a hot and sunny day. Seeds to sow; craft activities to try; understanding the farming year (with the NFU); food to make, taste and enjoy with the Slow Food UK; poultry pens and dozens of farm animals that children were encouraged to pet and even cuddle. Aimed mainly at the under tens, it was good to learn about the West Midlands Care Farming movement, which offers opportunities to young people aged 8-19 (included youth) who have found traditional classroom education a struggle.

learning to sow seeds (and label them!)
Indeed, so committed are they to education and learning that TCAS (Three Counties Agricultural Society) produce a 'Discovery Zone' newsletter outlining all the cross-curricular educational resources available to teachers, including regular professional development days - this year at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show (May) and Three Counties Show (June) plus their ongoing year-round projects such as school gardens.

it's a building site right now - but come May 12th, this space (and many similar) will have been transformed into one of the 'Mentoring Scholarship' Show Gardens
The Malvern Spring Gardening Show (12th-15th May) attracts visitors passionate about gardening from far further afield than the 'three counties'. A short walk across the Showground from 'Countrytastic' and I was chatting to designers slaving under a blistering sun to build their show gardens. Amazing what three short weeks will bring forth: from building site to gardens that delight and inspire. Few as yet had plants 'installed', and this seems to be the year of garden structures; intriguing. The Show itself has many new features for 2011 including the 'Garden in Harmony Theatre' and 'Landscaping Live'. Then within the 50-acre showground, you will also find over 100 nurseries displaying and selling plant in the 'Floral Marquee' (many more plant stalls outdoors), the 'Eco Home & Garden Area' (green living), shopping - 700 stands, and the Bradstone-sponsored 'Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship'. See the would-be scholars' atom-themed show gardens, and watch the live judging. I hope to be blogging live from the Show, WiFi signal permitting.

And now to a goodbye. Brian O'Donnell is leaving Dobies at the end of this week. It was Brian who asked me to set up this blog to augment the monthly e-newsletter; he has been a constant encouragement and support. As he moves on to pastures new, we wish him all the very best in his new job, and in his Devon garden.

Finally, thankyou to all the many readers who have read the 'serious' post last week about the potential threat to allotments and wildlife; signing petitions does help, and it's good to have the opportunity to 'have one's say.'

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