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With its beautiful begonias, attractive lawn and elegant shrubs, it’s no wonder Mike and Val Longman’s garden has been crowned the winner of this year’s Bloomin’ Marvellous competition.

The News gardening guru Brian Kidd was blown away by the couple’s horticultural haven, in Ardington Rise, Waterlooville.

GLORIOUS Mike Longman in his garden in Waterlooville

GLORIOUS Mike Longman in his garden in Waterlooville

It means they’ve won £100 in vouchers to spend at Garsons garden centre in Titchfield.

Speaking of their win, Mike, 69, said: ‘I just can’t believe it.

‘It’s fantastic winning out of all those entries – it’s lovely.

‘I’m really, really pleased – I know my family will be.

Mike agreed it was the culmination of all the hard work he and his wife had put in this year.

He’s been planting begonias every year since his mother-in-law Nellie Whitburn died seven years ago because she loved them.

‘My mother-in-law was a big fan of begonias, that’s why we grow them each year,’ he said. ‘We love them. They are wonderful and superb flowers.

‘They don’t take an awful lot of effort. Once they’ve had enough the heads just fall off. They give you so much pleasure and so do their colours.’

The couple intend to spend some of their winnings on a new garden vacuum cleaner and pansies before the winter.

‘My old garden vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost,’ Mike explains. ‘We get a lot of leaves in the garden so it would be appropriate to spend some of the vouchers on a new one – that’s probably what I should do.’

Brian judged 10 gardens in one day to see which one was the best.

Though the decision he had to make was a tough one, he thought Mike and Val’s garden was the one that stood out the most. ‘I was very impressed by the lovely raised seating area,’ he said.

‘Combined with a beautiful lawn, Mike has made very good use of shrubs and in particular there is a superb background. One of the outstanding features is his pergola, which is adorned with wonderful baskets of bergonias.

‘Honestly, you can’t beat begonias.’

‘This garden is an ideal outdoor room. I thought it was excellent.’

THANKS FOR ENTERING

JUDGE Brian Kidd praised gardeners for making their gardens look wonderful.

He says people shouldn’t be disheartened about losing and urged them to give it another go next year.

Talking about all the gardens he saw, Brian said: ‘They were exceptional.

‘When you compare this year with last, it’s amazing how things have carried on moving.

‘The gardens I have seen have been looked after by truly dedicated gardeners.

‘When I am judging I just don’t think to myself, “Oh, yes”, I think people have been working on these for months.

‘It’s hard work and dedication. I would like to say on behalf of us all, thank-you for entering and try again next year.’

SECOND PLACE

Coming in a close second was Colin Tait, 71, and his wife Chris, 68, of Longmynd Drive, Fareham. The couple pick up £50 of gardening vouchers from Garsons.

One of the stand-out features is a brick summer house, which has a time capsule underneath filled with bills for how much it cost to build.

Virtually everything in the garden was built by Colin.

He makes sure the top layer is covered with horse manure each year to ensure the soil retains its vital nutrients.

They let the public visit to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Fareham in Bloom and so far this year they’ve raised more than £1,000.

‘Gardening is our passion,’ Colin said. ‘We call the summer house our garden room and we can even sit out there in the winter and when there’s snow about because it’s got a heater.

‘Gardening is something you have to do every day.’

Brian Kidd said: ‘It’s one of the most comfortable gardens I have visited this year.’

THIRD PLACE

TWENTY years ago Linda Bailey and her family’s garden was overgrown and in need of some tender, loving care.

Over the years they’ve transformed it into a place that’s full of colour and life – and all their efforts have paid off after they scooped third place in Bloomin’ Marvellous.

The garden in Hollybank Lane, Emsworth, is divided up into segments and there’s a pond where koi carp swim.

Linda’s grandson Tyler, five, likes to play outside and make mud pies.

‘I like fiddling about in the garden,’ Linda said. ‘It’s something I enjoy doing whenever I get a spare five minutes. When we first moved in 20 years ago it was overgrown. We have transformed it.’

Brian said: ‘This was a lovely, informal garden.

‘It’s an excellent use of space. It’s a suntrap in some areas but delightfully shaded in others using beautiful trees. A seating area with pergola is well furnished with a lovely arrangement of shrubs and herbaceous plants.’

BEST OF THE REST...

· Wendy Croad, Sullivan Way, Purbrook: ‘A very good use of trees and shrubs. While a lot of people would say they are too big for this garden, they have been pruned beautifully.’

· Peter Nicklen, Holybourne Road, Leigh Park: ‘A beautifully clean garden with an immaculate lawn with three large round flower beds. The first and best bed had a brilliant display of begonia and semperflorens.’

· Jackie Heffield, Tarius Close, Gosport: ‘Jackie has an attractive front garden with a great combination of herbaceous plants and phlox. There was a brilliant agapanthus which contrasted beautifully against a yellow rudbeckia.’

· Pam Hobbs, Pennine Walk, Fareham: ‘Pam has a colourful front garden, with a beautiful selection of shrubs and herbaceous plants.’

· June Nolan, Ludlow Road, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth: ‘An established garden with a selection of shrubs and herbaceous plants. There were neatly spaced cordylines which added a continental touch.’

· Pat Bentley, Catisfield Road, Milton, Portsmouth: ‘A lovely garden in the centre of Milton. The planting has been well arranged and the garden looks a peaceful and content place.’

· Richard and Sally Craddock, The Haven, Milton, Portsmouth: ‘The overall impression of this garden is stunning, and it’s enjoyed by everyone who walks by.’

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