VE Day 75th anniversary show garden to be designed by fourth generation veteran

A garden designer who is one of four generations in his family to serve in the RAF will be exhibiting a commemorative show garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Martyn Wilson is an award-winning garden designer based in Worcester, and due to his military connections is the perfect fit to create a VE Day show garden at the Festival held at Three Counties Showground in Malvern which falls on the anniversary weekend in May.

Martyn, whose grandfather was involved in D-Day and the battle for Normandy, said: “I’ve heard so many first hand tales of the war from my family and I am extremely honoured to be able to bring a VE Day commemorative garden to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.”

It is not Martyn’s first military-themed garden, his installation Memories of Service: RAF100 Centenary Garden, is already a permanent fixture at the Showground after first being unveiled in 2018.

Martyn himself was stationed at RAF Bruggen in Germany and frequently visited the Netherlands and towns such as Arnhem and Nijmegen the location of the infamous Operation Market Garden and the allied airborne invasion and the VE Day garden has been inspired by these visits.

During the harsh winter of 1944-1945 a large part of the German-occupied Netherlands suffered from severe shortages of food and fuel. During the famine, known in the Netherlands as the ‘Honger Winter or the ‘Hunger Winter’ Tulip bulbs were commonly eaten including by the famous actress Audrey Hepburn.

Most bulbs such as hyacinths and daffodils are toxic to humans, but tulip bulbs are edible if they are carefully prepared and the VE Day garden designed in an English and Dutch style will feature bulbs including Tulip Liberation.

Martyn is collaborating with the Netherlands Embassy in London, Royal Delft, Dutch growers and NATO forces stationed in nearby Gloucester to create this special garden.

“Excitingly visitors to the show will be able to walk through the garden to celebrate peace and reconciliation and reflect upon the bravery and sacrifice of so many in World War Two” said Martyn.

The show garden will be part of wider VE Day celebrations where there will be plenty of Union Jacks flying, vintage music and singing, military vehicles and dancing.

Diana Walton, Head of Shows at Three Counties Showground, said: “There is no one better to create a special commemorative VE Day show garden than Martyn.

“With his connection to the military and his tremendous gardening ability I have no doubt this show garden will do the occasion justice and be an extremely popular attraction through the weekend.”

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.

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