The Collectors Garden – A blend of Victorian and Millennial Gardening

RHS Malvern Spring Festival, 10-13 May, 2018 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning garden designer, Olivia Kirk, is creating The Collectors Garden, her first Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival, which celebrates the re-development of The Royal Porcelain Works (RPW) in Worcester. 
Olivia, who runs a design practice in Herefordshire, has 3 RHS Chelsea Medals including Gold and has designed many private and public space gardens around the UK. The Collectors Garden at RHS Malvern, which runs from 10-13 May 2018, will take visitors on a journey through time, using a series of planted ‘exhibition spaces’.  
The innovative garden design provides an inspiring mix of history and modernity, by linking the Victorian heritage of the RPW site with its exciting new re-developed 21st Century role as a centre for the performing arts and modern craftsmanship which will open to the public at the end of June.
Olivia’s planting scheme for The Collectors Garden celebrates the modern cultivars of plants and shrubs collected by Victorian plant hunters such as Nandina domestica introduced by William Kerr in 1804 and Magnolia stellata brought from Japan by Robert Fortune in 1840s.   These are complemented with new introductions from modern plant collectors, including species from Crug Farm Plants.
Featured in the Show Garden’s exhibition spaces are five stone plinths.  Three of the plinths display glass bell jars, containing historic Royal Worcester pieces, which are painted with horticultural designs. The planting surrounding the plinths includes some of the plants and foliage featured on the Royal Worcester pieces.
Two further plinths display bespoke Terrariums, which have been designed by Olivia, based on an original Wardian Case design.  The Terrariums have been made in a collaboration with the London Terrarium Company, and despite their Victorian design influence, these contemporary Terrariums bring gardening right up-to-date, illustrating how young millennial gardeners known as “generation rent,” can still engage with nature, even in a restricted urban environment.
All of the plants from The Collectors Garden will be relocated to a garden also designed by Olivia, within the central courtyard of the new RPW.  The garden will link the existing Museum of Royal Worcester with the adjacent RPW and its newly renovated Henry Sandon Hall.
Commenting, Olivia said, “I am extremely excited about creating a Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival this year, as this is my local show and it has always been close to my heart, with its majestic backdrop of the Malvern Hills.  The Festival’s theme this year highlights Malvern’s fascinating links with the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, and this fitted perfectly with my idea for a garden that celebrates the Victorian heritage of the new Royal Porcelain Works development in Worcester.   What I have really enjoyed is creating a design which, like the redevelopment of the RPW, marries the best of its Victorian heritage with the design innovations of contemporary living.”  
The Collectors Garden is sponsored by Royal Porcelain Works Limited.  Chairman, Colin Kinnear OBE said, “We are delighted to be working with Olivia Kirk on this exciting Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival, which will help raise awareness of the major new RPW development in Worcester.  What’s more, visitors to RHS Malvern will be able to enjoy the beautiful planting from The Collectors Garden for many years to come, when the garden is relocated to the RPW, which officially opens to the public at the end of June 2018.”
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