Teamwork wins blooming prizes

Girl power has delivered blooming rewards as four lively residents of Danemark Court in Winchester city centre have beaten their rivals to the prize of Best Sheltered Scheme in the City Council's annual garden competition.

Beth McVicker, Lillian Joyce, Evelyn Sylvester and Millie Fraser divide up the gardening between them. One pair will handle the front garden and the other pair tackles the back, keeping the tubs, planters and beds in tip top condition, while Evelyn also takes responsibility for the watering,

The ladies have only been making a concerted effort over the last season to enhance their communal areas, with most of the plants paid for out of their own pockets. Like many of the residents at the scheme, they also have their own patio gardens, which they enjoy keeping in trim.

The team has been enthusiastically supported by their Scheme Manager Brenda Chandler, who has organized a new shed, paving and grassed area and with their garden voucher winnings the ladies already have plans to create a new shade-loving garden with hostas and ferns.

Bernie Sheppard of Mitford Road, Alresford, scooped the top prize in the Best Front Garden competition - for the fourth year running. Bernie's small but beautifully formed front garden is not only immaculate but is a plantsman's delight and again teamwork pays off as he shares the chores with his wife Helen.

They keep their display on top form by deadheading and feeding their tubs, planters and borders in the early morning and evening. This tiny plot boasts a bubble fountain and cottage garden plants like rudbeckia, phlox, campanulas, lavender, geraniums and roses, as well as baskets full of petunias, clematis clothing the boundary fences and clipped forsythia and berberis standing guard at the front gate.

The Best Hanging Basket Award, and runner up in the Best Front Garden category, went to Joan Sherfield of Long Priors, West Meon, who had produced an incredible display of over 40 hanging baskets.

Joan's stunning fuchsia baskets, particularly a double lilac and candy pink confection called Holly's Beauty, caught the judge's eye. Joan feeds her baskets with tomato feed and carefully over-winters all her fuchsias. Always improving her garden, this year Joan has introduced new paving, a rose bower and a hanging basket display post, created by a family member.

Run by the council's Housing Landlord Services, residents from across the Winchester district have been competing in this year's competition, which was judged by BBC TV's Gardener's World contributor Sandy Worth of Watermeadow Nursery in Cheriton.

Sandy also gave a special Judges Prize to Ron Ruddle of Claylands in Bishops Waltham who, despite operations to have both his hips replaced over the last two years, has produced stunning displays of fuchsias both as standards and in hanging baskets. Ron also maintains all the flower borders under his neighbours' front windows, which are packed with bright bi-colour petunias, and Sandy wanted to acknowledge his community spirit and hard work.

For further information contact Glynis Cole, the City Council's Tenant Participation Manager, on 01962 848 204.