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    Gardening Against the Odds: The regional winners are announced

    Maureen Morelle, Emsworth, Hampshire. Former opera singer Maureen Morelle opened her garden for the first time for the National Gardens Scheme this year at the age of 78. Despite overcoming cancer and suffering from arthritis, she has created a lovely Mediterranean-style garden planted with shrubs, ornamental trees and climbers. Luscious borders surround timber sleepers and gravel, while sculpture and planted Cretan pots bring extra year-round interest. The judges were charmed by this small piece of the Mediterranean in the heart of Hampshire.

    Jeremy Scott, Uckfield, East Sussex. Despite becoming blind nine years ago and facing other health problems, 39-year-old Jeremy Scott remains cheerfully positive. Gardening has brought him new friends, and belonging to horticultural societies and groups keeps him busy. Had he not lost his sight and been unable to work, Jeremy believes he would never have discovered his green fingers. Now he grows all kinds of organic fruit and vegetables to share with friends and family, and his garden blooms with colourful and fragrant plants. Nominator Alyson Chorley described him as “inspirational” and the judges agreed.


    Joint winners

    Elisabeth Standen, Bedminster, Bristol. Elisabeth Standen’s garden has been built to suit her needs. Born with physical and sensory impairments, she is blind, so getting around is difficult; everything must have its place – tools and plants. Her long terrace brims with vegetables and flowers and she loves to share and swap produce and plants with friends. The judges applauded her as a shining example of someone who gardens against the odds – and wins.

    Mentoring Plus, Bath. More than vegetables flourish in the garden of Bath charity Mentoring Plus. The judges were impressed with the lively group of young gardeners who love growing their own fruit and vegetables to take home and share with their families. As well as giving them a break from the difficulties they may be experiencing in their lives, gardening brings them together as a team working in the open air, solving problems, being patient and doing something useful which brings delicious and healthy results.


    Niki Preston (also runner-up)


    Fred Vintner was an art teacher until he became ill, and his creative eye is reflected throughout his glorious Suffolk garden. A once-overgrown patch is now a garden full of surprises. The herb parterre has replaced paving slabs, a cottage garden blooms, and walks and entrances offer different vistas, persuading Fred, a keen traveller before ME (myalgic encephalopathy) and kidney failure narrowed his horizons, that he is on a journey still. Its beauty and Fred’s skill certainly caught the judges’ eyes.


    Georgina Graydon’s garden is a little oasis in inner-city Bradford. Surrounded by concreted-over front gardens and litter-strewn streets, her vivid flowers bring a cheerful splash of colour. Her back garden is a peaceful place for wildlife, and plants brighten the unadopted road behind her row of houses, encouraging others to follow suit.

    Georgina is a gardening champion, helping to run the BD3 Garden Club, and a member of her local allotment association. The judges were impressed by her efforts to inspire others to garden against urban odds.


    If proof were needed that gardening can transform places for the better, Belfast’s Footprints Women’s Centre is it. Members have transformed a once antisocial hotspot in this area of multiple deprivations into a thriving kitchen garden which supplies the centre’s catering service, and homes in the community, with fresh fruit and vegetables. Better nutrition and increased physical activity are among the benefits, along with reduced isolation, improved mental well-being, connection with nature, fun, and friendship.


    Sajeda Kadir (overall winner)


    His love of gardening means 90-year-old Raymond Jones is able to ignore constant backache and the other pains which have curtailed his independence. On fine days he can be found tending his delightful Llangollen garden, or pricking out seeds in his greenhouse if it’s wet. It isn’t a pocket-handkerchief garden either. There’s an orchard, a wild area, lawn, flower beds, window boxes, baskets, flowering pots and two large vegetable plots. Proof of gardening’s enduring power to make life better, which the judges applauded.

    The judges:
    Botanist/president of the Conservation Foundation, David Bellamy; David Shreeve, director of the Conservation Foundation; Anne Cuthbertson, Life’s editor; Frank Wilson, Elspeth Thompson’s husband; the Duchess of Northumberland; Richard Reynolds, guerrilla gardener; Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum; Bunny Guinness and Francine Raymond, Life writers; Tim Richardson, director of the Chelsea Fringe; actress Susan Hampshire; Craig Sams, founder of Green & Black’s Organic; Annie Maw, a former award winner.

    Original article found here



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