Garden of the Year: Garden awards plant seeds of joy

AFTER months of searching, pruning and mowing, The Hunts Post can now announce the winners of our first Garden of the Year competition. Launched way back in the spring, the competition sponsored by Admiral Windows and Conservatories was looking for the b

AFTER months of searching, pruning and mowing, The Hunts Post can now announce the winners of our first Garden of the Year competition.

Launched way back in the spring, the competition sponsored by Admiral Windows and Conservatories was looking for the best gardens in Huntingdonshire.

And now we think we've found three of them including the most colourful, the best kept and best designed who all receive a trophy and £250.

It was in St Ives where the judges - Andy Veale, editor of The Hunts Post; Steve Thorogood, managing director of Admiral Windows and Conservatories; and Will Honeybone of gardeners Earthscape Ltd - found the winner of the most colourful garden award, John and Trinidad Jarrett, of Burleigh Road.

Tucked away in Eaton Socon, just off the Great North Road, is the winner of the best kept garden. Richard and Sue de Fraine had entered the best design category, but judges were so impressed with the one acre plot, they awarded the de Fraines a prize.

The best designed garden in the opinion of the judges was dreamed up by Michael Fisher, from Broughton. His garden, although smaller than many in the competition, was well-thought out, interesting, pretty and, above all, a place where people can sit out and enjoy all the garden has to offer.

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And as for the overall winner, find out who scooped the top prize and an additional £500 on the opposite page.

Will Honeybone shares gives his expert opinion on why these garden were winners:

BEST KEPT: You approach the garden over a large gravel driveway, through an archway draped in climbers and suddenly the impressive garden opens up before you.

Large immaculate lawns are interspersed with sweeping borders.

Every gardener knows that lawns, to look at their best, require plenty of maintenance, not just regular cutting, but scarifying, aeration and top dressing all go towards a perfect lawn, and this lawn was an example of that. The edging had been lovingly shaped with timber to create sweeping borders and to provide a professional finish.

With such a garden, maintenance of the borders can be a daunting task but all were weed free and dug over. The planting looked fresh and cared for.

Of particular note were the box hedging lined borders containing a profusion of lavender plants and hardy perennials for seasonal interest, young birch trees with colourful perennials, a large central border with a tropical feel to it containing large grasses and an excellent Phormium.

BEST DESIGN: This was the most contemporary garden entered into the competition.

The front garden consists of box hedging in lovely topiary balls which lead you to the front door.

You enter the rear garden from the side of the house and it feels as if you have walked into a contemporary outdoor room, with an attractive beige courtyard area with seating backed by a rendered wall and box hedging containing a variety of perennials to soften the wall.

The overall design in the garden is brought together by a pathway connecting you to a variety of areas which are beautifully detailed.

You move out to the garden and find a pathway leading you through the entire garden and as you walk around, there is a an attractive gravelled area with box hedging forming a curvilinear design. Up some steps a small path leads round to a pond and on to a carved seat nestled in a quiet area of the garden

Lush planting flows throughout the garden, a mixture of perennials for colour and variety, which are held together with evergreen planting such as box and large hebes.

Overall, every part of the garden has been thought through with pathways leading you by numerous areas of interest.

COLOUFUL DISPLAY: Amazing display of colourful geraniums in a variety of pots give the garden instant colour from spring to late summer.

The geraniums have also been grown for hanging baskets, one of which welcomes you as you enter the garden.

A thoughtfully positioned archway covered with a beautiful clematis providing both scent and colour as you pass underneath.

A standard rose bush provides a profusion of pink flowers, whilst surrounded by a wonderful mixed border.

The garden was given an extra dimension with two levels, with borders masking the change in height.

THE OVERALL winner of The Hunts Post Garden of the Year competition actually designed his garden before his house.

Created from a meadow 10 years ago, everything in Michael Fisher's garden at his Broughton home is designed to complement the surrounding countryside.

"It's like being in the middle of the country when you are sat in my garden," said Mr Fisher, who began drawing up plans for the garden after attending a garden design course.

"I've always liked gardening and wanted to design the garden even before the house. The garden is very important to me.

"It is where I like to go to sit and relax and enjoy my surroundings. "

Contained in a space of just 50ft by 50ft, the garden has various seating areas which provide people with different views and are situated to catch the best weather conditions.

The planting has also been carefully chosen. Each tree and plant has been added to the garden to compliment the surrounding fields.

Mr Fisher said the silver birch trees were planted to add height, shrubs such as Viburnum Opulus are used in the hedgerows to add an autumnal feel with their changing leaf colour and bright red berries.

In addition, a meandering gravel path leads past the goldfish pond to the bottom of the garden where a woodland area can be found surrounded by ferns, ivy and foxgloves.

"My aim was to create a garden that would blend into its natural surroundings, creating a tranquil space, and I believe I've achieved this," added Mr Fisher.

To enable others to enjoy his garden, once every two years Mr Fisher opens it to the public to raise money for Broughton Church.

"Everyone is always very complimentary about the garden and it makes all my hard work seem well worth."

Mr Fisher, who entered the best design category of The Hunts Post Garden of the Year competition, has been awarded £750 after winning the title of overall winner.

When asked what he was going to spend his winnings on, Mr Fisher, said: "I haven't got a clue. I never thought I would win as the other gardens were of such a high standard.

"I will probably buy a few trees and plants and then I'm not sure what I will do with the rest.