Providing a sanctuary to escape the hurly-burly

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What a green-fingered lot you are!

Each year we’re inundated with entries for our Bloomin’ Marvellous gardening contest and this year was certainly no exception.

From large plots to tiny spaces imaginatively landscaped and filled with flowers and vegetables, people were keen to show off their horticultural pride and joys.

It was difficult for our gardening guru Brian Kidd to pick a winner, but we think you’ll agree that the Leigh Park garden of Peter and Shirley Nicklen featured on pages 8 and 9 is worthy of the title and a prize of £100 of gardening vouchers from Garsons in Titchfield.

It’s a riot of colour with circular beds, water features and even a chiminea to keep people warm in the evening.

But everyone in Brian’s top 10 – and he visited all the gardens in one busy but enjoyable day – deserves great praise for their efforts.

We thank everybody who entered for their enthusiasm and the way they have lovingly tended their gardens.

What Bloomin’ Marvellous underlines is how important our gardens are to we Brits.

In an increasingly hectic world, they are our sanctuary where we can escape the hurly-burly, slow down and literally smell the roses.

What a valuable role they perform, allowing us to de-stress and connect with nature while also creating some beautiful surroundings.

Gardens are also increasingly being regarded as an extension of the house, an outside room where we can relax and express our personalities.

Of course many of the back gardens in the contest are hidden gems, so Bloomin’ Marvellous enables others to peek in and see what inspiring horticultural havens fellow gardeners have managed to create.

But others, from front gardens to hanging baskets and pots on balconies, are highly visible to passers-by.

They do so much to soften what can be a harsh urban landscape of brick and concrete.

The hard work of those who create them is much appreciated.

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