Council Leader bowled over by blooms!

George Beckett, leader of Winchester City Council, was ‘bowled over by the begonias’ when he judged the council’s annual tenant gardening competition.

Cllr Beckett travelled round the district last week, meeting green fingered residents in Alresford, Bishop’s Waltham and Winchester.

Awarding first prize for the Best Front Garden to Berni Sheppard, Cllr Beckett said: “It was the neatness and attention to detail that struck me. There is obvious close care and attention, and the garden is completely pest free.

“I was absolutely bowled over by the begonias in the front,” he added

He named the other winners as Ron Ruddle, from Bishop’s Waltham, for his hanging baskets, and the residents of Victoria House, Winchester, for the Best Supported Housing Garden.

Over the years Berni Sheppard and his wife Helen, of Mitford Road, Alresford, have won the coveted title of Best Front Garden at least three times and have been runners up twice.

Mr Sheppard, 73, a retired MOD dog handler, said: “We’ve lived here since 1960 and have been doing the garden for many years – it started as just a hobby.”

It is very much a joint effort, with Mr Sheppard doing the heavy work and his wife, a curtain maker, in charge of dead-heading and sweeping.

Ron Ruddle, 76, from Claylands Road, Bishops Waltham, won the prize for Best Hanging Baskets for the third year running.

He took around 300 cuttings from last year’s baskets to create this year’s prize winners.

Cllr Beckett said:  “I was impressed by the variety, the health of the plants and the colour match. They are free from pests and all in all are a splendid example of hanging baskets!”

First prize in the supported housing category went to Victoria House, Victoria Road, Winchester.  All 25 flats overlook the enclosed garden and the residents enjoy the peace and tranquillity it provides.

Cllr Beckett said:  “There is a huge variety of planting and a wonderful visual effect with all-year-round colour.”

Tenant Rosetta Fuller, 80, organises the fundraising for the garden and summer fair last weekend raised £308, which will be used for new plants for the main beds.

Mags Relph, a Care Assistant at Victoria House, praised Miss Fuller’s fundraising efforts and added: “The garden is used for the tenants – they can have drinks out there and at the fair we encouraged them to go outside for cream teas. They love it!”