An exceptional garden displaying a very high standard of horticulture and a range of wildlife-friendly features has earned a Kidsgrove couple the sought after title of best residential garden in Newcastle-under-Lyme for the second year running.
Maureen Wilson and Graham Green are the winners of the ultimate accolade in Newcastle in Bloom once again after impressing judges with their “excellent” garden which has “something of interest around every corner.”
Maureen and Graham – who were the joint winners of the hotly contested category in 2021 – joined other green-fingered residents and Mayor Gillian Burnett at the New Vic Theatre on Saturday, 1 October to find out the results of the Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s popular summer gardening competitions which play a major part in the borough’s annual Heart of England in Bloom campaign.
The talented pair also received a “special feature award” for an “amazing, educational and inspirational” space at the lower end of their garden combining a wildlife watching hide with photographic facilities. The hide features laboratory microscopes, dissection tools and a video camera which switches a rainforest on and off. The award was presented by Sandra Simpson in memory of her father, Alfred Birch, a previous competitor whose garden was renowned for its many unusual features.
Previous overall winners – Graham and Vera Tagg from Porthill – were praised for their colourful, traditional-style garden which is described as a “feast for the eyes” but it was their “amazing and superbly grown” hanging baskets, in “peak condition”, that stole the show this year.
In the allotments category, Gail Benbow and David Cooper won the overall title thanks to their “excellent, well stocked plot” at Basford allotments showing a great balance of vegetables, fruit and flowers. The judges were also impressed by Gail and David’s well maintained plot, their excellent greenhouse, lovely pond feature and nice hanging baskets.
“Best vegetable plot” – donated by The Acre Allotment Association in memory of former tenant Granville Rushton – went to Trevor, Jane and Anna Elson. The great reorganisation of a previously neglected plot at The Acre in Silverdale, in a short amount of time, was hailed as a great achievement in itself but it was the excellent range of quality vegetables which really caught the judges’ attention.
Not only Newcastle-under-Lyme win the coveted small city category in Heart of England in Bloom this year, it scooped a twentieth consecutive gold award as well as a discretionary award for an upgraded Grosvenor Gardens in Newcastle town centre which features new, Mediterranean-style planting and bright tiling to all five adjoining subways celebrating 30 years of success in Britain in Bloom.
Cllr Jill Waring, Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “It was great to invite all the competition entrants to our awards ceremony at the New Vic Theatre. It’s one of the main highlights in the Bloom calendar; we all look forward to it as it’s a great way to thank everyone for their excellent efforts and round off the year.
“I would like to thank all those who took the time and effort to enter the Council’s
competitions. You’re all a credit to Newcastle-under-Lyme and it’s your efforts that help to keep the borough at the top of ‘bloom’ game across the region. I’m pleased that we were able to return to our normal competition format this summer following the Coronavirus pandemic. Our experienced judges were really excited to be back on the road again to re- engage with everyone and see their amazing projects.
“It’s lovely to celebrate the achievements of our talented winners following a brilliant
summer which saw us win the small city category in Heart of England in Bloom, a 20 th consecutive gold award and a special award for an improved Grosvenor Gardens. Special thanks also go to our sponsor, Black Star Ceramics in Baldwins Gate, as we couldn’t have done this without their support.”
High praise was heaped on Apedale Heritage Centre – the community gardens winner – for the “extraordinary, “inspirational” and “productive” site which is regarded as a “wonderful experience”. Volunteers showcase a range of skills in the garden, from making bird tables out of recycled materials to willow weaving and arts and crafts.
The “delightful” Old Hall in Madeley – described as a pleasure to visit – has won the
licensed premises/businesses category. The layout of the 15th century garden is typically English and it has a true sense of serenity and calmness within its many garden rooms. It was acknowledged that new projects will add to the site’s appeal.
Meanwhile, in the schools category, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Academy, in
Kidsgrove, received top marks for their continued enthusiasm and vision in developing their garden, “a space to be proud of”, despite the wide ranging works that are taking place involving the new school building.