GARDENERS across the Portsmouth region are being urged to show off the fruits of their green-fingered labour, as an annual gardening competition returns.
Today, The News launches its Bloomin’ Marvellous competition, to find the best gardens and well-tended spaces across the area – and we want to see your efforts.
While last year’s hot and dry summer caused problems for a number of gardeners, many were still able to make their green spaces flourish, tending to them with an award-winning delicacy and care.
Last year’s competition was won by 62-year-old carer Ray Hunt, who meticulously crafted a garden designed by his mother before she died.
The quirky, colourful space shone during a September inspection – earning him the coveted first-place voucher for £100 to spend at the Garsons garden centre, in Titchfield.
Among the plants Mr Hunt’s garden boasted were two palm trees and a chocolate cosmos – a cocoa-scented dahlia with Mexican origins.
But despite being described as ‘very well-kept’ by judge Callum Hartley, the garden’s story and Ray’s emotional connection with it was every bit as touching as the garden was pleasant.
‘I was actually born in this house and the garden was designed by my late mother, paid for by my dad and planted by me. It’s a real family affair,' he said.
‘Finding out I won the competition came as good news.’
The competition will be judged by a collaborated team from The News and Garsons in Titchfield, which is sponsoring the event.
The second-place prize of a £50 Garsons voucher was secured by Langdale Nursing Home, in Gosport, which encourages its patients to enjoy the therapeutic qualities of the great outdoors.
Earning third place was Copnor resident Geoff Craig, with a stunning, floral patio display.
Ray says he hasn’t actually spent all of his prize money yet – but has purchased a few shrubs to keep his garden in a good condition.
With the current rainy weather and strong winds, Ray has a few tips to hand for people taking part in this year’s competition.
He said: ‘My approach was simply to keep on top of it all, as much as I could. I tend to go for plants that I know will survive the British summer – it’s important that your garden lasts to the end of the competition.
‘Tying things up will stop the plants from being damaged in the wind as well.
‘But I think the main thing is to not worry about it too much – just go on as normal and do what you can to make your garden a nice place to be.
‘It's a competition but just enjoy being outside.’
Our Bloomin' Marvellous prize givers
Award-winning Garsons of Titchfield is the number one choice for gardeners across Hampshire, with all you need for a first-class garden.
Discover a wide selection of quality plants, with a lifetime guarantee on hardy varieties, plus garden care and outdoor living ranges to suit every outdoor space.
The Bloomin’ Marvellous competition will be judge by The News and Garsons, and the closing date for entry is Wednesday, July 31.
Send in several pictures of your garden to firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to David George, The News, 1000 Lakeside, Western Road, Northarbour, Portsmouth, PO6 3EN.
Include your full name, daytime telephone number and address with the photographs or e-mails you send to us. Unfortunately we’re not able to return posted prints.