Bloomin’ marvellous gardens take prizes

Winners Merial Sprake and Nick Pattenden, from Alexander Grove, Fareham.
Winners Merial Sprake and Nick Pattenden, from Alexander Grove, Fareham.
Scott Jeffree. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

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Beautiful begonias, colourful geraniums and neat lawns were just some of the highlights in Nick Pattenden and Meriel Sprake’s garden.

The pair’s horticultural haven has seen them named winners of this year’s Bloomin’ Marvellous competition.

Judge Brian Kidd had a hard job picking the winner with all entries of a high standard this year.

But Nick and Meriel, from Alexander Grove, in Fareham, just came out on top with their range of flowers, shrubs and vegetables.

Meriel, 49, says: ‘We are really, really chuffed.

‘It was a total surprise too.

‘Nick spends so much time out in the garden and he works really hard to keep it looking nice.

‘He’s out there every day – he’s very dedicated.

‘It is just fantastic that we won.’

As well as flowers, Nick and Meriel like to grow vegetables and fruit including cucumbers and melons.

And they love the bright dahlias and begonias too.

Nick, 56, adds: ‘We grow all our flowers from seeds and very rarely buy them fully grown.

‘Although that makes it harder, I do prefer it.

‘It is lovely to just sit in the garden and enjoy it all.

‘We have such a range of flowers from geraniums to fuchsias as well as foliage and daffodils in the spring.’

The winning couple will be presented with a £100 voucher for Titchfield-based garden centre Garsons.

Brian judged the gardens all on the same day and was impressed with this year’s entries.

He says: ‘It was very hard to pick a winner.

‘It was a very close competition this year.

‘For a lot of the top 10 gardens, their entry pictures did not do them justice. They were lovely in person.

‘It just shows how good the pictures need to be when you first enter.’

Brian was impressed with runners-up Peter and Shirley Nicklen.

Last year’s winners had made changes to their garden and Brian enjoyed what he saw.

Peter, from Holybourne Road, in Leigh Park, said he was pleased with second place and a £50 voucher for Garsons.

‘I lot of money is spent on the garden so I am pleased with coming second,’ the 72-year-old said.

‘It makes it worthwhile. We do get a lot of comments on our garden.’

Peter spends a lot of time on his garden, as does third-placed Ron Martindale.

The 88-year-old, from Armstrong Close, has been tending to his garden for 20 years.

He says: ‘I am really happy about coming third.

‘I just love my garden so winning is a bonus.

‘Getting out to the garden in the morning is something I look forward to doing.’