As Storm Ciara and Dennis swept across the UK bringing torrential weather and swamping much of the country with flood water - nurseries and exhibitors in the Floral Marquee at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival have remained resilient and battled through the conditions to make sure they are ready and raring to go come the spring.
There will be 67 exhibitors at the beautiful Floral Marquee at RHS Malvern, and much of the work for their displays is already well underway.
While conditions have made growing difficult and caused damage to a number of nurseries, nursery staff and owners have remained strong, working hard to make sure things stay on track for the 35th anniversary of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, which is seen by many as the official start of spring and attracts more than 100,000 people annually.
Visitors flock to see its inspirational show gardens, get top tips from the experts and enjoy the best food and drink, garden and lifestyle shopping on offer.
At specialist hosta growers, Sienna Hosta, in Woking, Surrey, it was the high winds that caused most of the damage, leaving owners counting the cost, but they say everything is on track for the May festival.
Ollie Walker, the nursery manager, said: “We had a panel of polythene ripped on one of our tunnels which means quite a pricey repair which at this time of the year for a nursery is difficult as we're not bringing in money until the Spring. We also had the doors of our tunnel come off.”
Work was also temporarily brought to a standstill at Tinnisburn Plants, which grows hardy perennials, in Dumfries and Golloway, Scotland, where they were actually landed with a deluge of snow.
Helen Knowles, founder and owner of the nursery said: “I’ve been quite lucky here as we’re on a hill so avoided being flooded and we’re used to storms so everything is well fixed down. I
“It’s the altitude here that causes us problems, we’re only 600ft up but we can still have very different weather to other places locally that are much lower.
“After Storm Ciara we had a good six inches of snow so that meant clearing the tunnels to avoid them collapsing and all of my plants were buried so it brought work to a standstill.”
There was a similar experience for third generation family lily and bulb specialists Harts Nursery in Cheshire who also suffered a big drop in temperatures, but the team battled through and it’s full steam ahead for the spring festival.
Head of Shows at Three Counties Showground, Diana Walton, said: “Around the UK, and the three counties itself, we have seen some truly awful weather conditions.
“But at RHS Malvern we have the very best horticulturalists that the country has to offer and it is amazing how they are able to stand up to these extreme conditions and not let it disrupt their plans.
“The Floral Marquee is always a highlight, and this year will be no different and we look forward to welcoming all of the nurseries and growers from around the country.”
The four-day festival, which runs from May 7 to 10 in association with boutique travel company Great Little Breaks, and for the first year ever will hold special Music at Malvern outdoor concert series featuring performances by national treasure Lesley Garrett, the 54-piece English Symphony Orchestra and a Garden Party with BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley.
Advance tickets for day entry to the festival itself are now on sale, with prices starting at just £20 for RHS and Three Counties members, or £22 for the general public (plus 75p transaction fee). Children under 16 go free. Group tickets are also available.
For further information visit www.rhsmalvern.co.uk or call 0844 811 0050.