Village apple pressing days inspired the creation of the Silver Gilt award-winning show garden, The Longcroft Press, at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2022.

The Longcroft Press was designed and executed by garden designer and horticulturalist grower, Laura Ashton-Phillips (also known as The Botanic Blonde) and featured Malvern Garden Buildings’ Reverse Apex Shed.

Inspired by village apple pressing days held at her family’s orchard, the picturesque garden aimed to encapsulate the neighbourly spirit and charm of the Forest of Dean as well as the very best produce that the area has to offer.

Laura’s garden design incorporated mature fruit trees in front of a pressing shed – our Reverse Apex Shed – which housed an antique apple press and scratter. Sponsored by Ecohab Wildflowers, the planting was a celebration of native wildflowers and rewilding in garden spaces – Laura explained how new blooms would emerge every day and so the garden would change on a daily basis.

We stopped by The Longcroft Press at Malvern Spring Festival and spoke to The Botanic Blonde herself!

Tell us about your inspiration for the garden

“The design is based on my family’s orchard in The Forest of Dean. We have loads of old buildings in the orchard that we use for storing our apple pressing equipment. My design is intended to capture a little bit of that old orchard. It’s very nostalgic, and I have been getting comments from many of the visitors saying how calm it makes them feel and how looks like it has always been there, which is really nice. I have had lots of lovely feedback about the old bike from our orchard that I included in the design too.”

The Hide Garden
The Hide Garden

How does our Reverse Apex Shed tie into your vision for the garden?

“The building is amazing – it looks like it has been there for a long time. It’s really rustic and painted black like the farm buildings and sheds at the family orchard, so it just fits perfectly.

“I love the cedar shingles as well, and they’re just going to get better and better over the years as they mellow down. The building is suitably rustic, but I think it looks absolutely stunning!

“It’s really in keeping with the actual style of the garden. I have been really chuffed with it.

“I like that the building has dual use – you have the open area, or you can store a load of stuff. For instance, I’ve got tools in there, a couple of chairs if I need to retreat, so it’s a really useful space.”

“I designed an aged, natural orchard garden and the building is supposed to look aged and as if it has always been there. Obviously hard to do with a brand-new building, but the team at Malvern Garden Buildings listened to all my ideas and together we came up with a great apple pressing shed that fits beautifully in my wildflower orchard garden.”

What upcoming projects can we expect to see from you?

“As a result of this show, I have been asked to do a couple of habitat restorations in meadows with UK wildflowers which is really exciting! I have also been asked to design another show garden next year for a charity that has approached me which is amazing. This is the start of an exciting adventure!”

Laura is currently studying with the RHS alongside establishing her own horticulture business as ‘The Botanic Blonde’. Stay up to date with her latest projects on Instagram and on her website.

You can also read more about the other designers that integrated a Malvern Garden Building into their gardens at RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2022, including Jo Whiley’s Vitamin G Garden and The Hide Garden, designed by Emily Crowley-Wroe.

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