Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing (STAR Housing) teamed up with Derwen College for our annual gardening competition and we have crowned our latest winners. The competition, which encourages residents to get outdoors and connect with their local community, was notable this year for the innovative use of pots and planters, community spaces and impressive lawns.
The Derwen College is a further education college for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Staff from the Garden Centre came to lend their expertise in judging the STAR Garden Centre with a vast knowledge of plants.
The 1st place winners of the competition are Roy Bradley for the Best Communal Garden, Eleanor Rayers for Best Wildlife Friendly, Sylvena Wellings for Best Container, and Lillian Mary for Best Garden. As first prize winners, each received £50 vouchers, a certificate, and a beautiful rose plant donated by the renowned David Austin Roses.
Derwen College’s Commercial Development Manager, Pete Evans, praised the community for their hard work and efforts in creating beautiful and imaginative outdoor spaces. " “It was a pleasure to work with the team from STAR Housing judging these wonderful gardens where so much love, care, time and enthusiasm was evident”.
Roy Bradley's well-kept communal garden won first place for the Best Communal Garden. His impeccable lawn and thoughtful planting around felled trees made the space a great space for all residents. "A lovely surprise to win," said Roy, “I wasn’t expecting it. I just do it because I enjoy it”.
The judges were especially impressed by the Best Wildlife Friendly winner, Eleanor Rayers, who won the competition for her vibrant garden and its aspects that promote a wildlife-friendly environment. Eleanor used innovative techniques such as creating a toad home with a black tarpaulin and managing to grow an avocado plant from seed. Eleanor poured her love and passion into creating an outdoor sanctuary. "After a bad week, I was called and told I had won. I was over the moon," said Eleanor, delighted by her 1st place prize.
Meanwhile, Best Container winner Sylvena Wellings was recognised for her stunning array of pots, which featured colourful plants and unique varieties. As a passionate gardener, Sylvena expressed her excitement at receiving the award and said that she found gardening therapeutic. "So surprised to win," exclaimed Sylvena.
Finally, the Best Garden winner, Lillian Mary, stood out among tough competition for her dedication and creativity. Her garden, an oasis according to Judge Pete Evans, boasts lovely lawns and abundant wildlife, making it a favourite among judges. Mary expressed her surprise at winning for the second year in a row, having dedicated herself to cultivating her garden and turning it into a place of tranquillity and beauty.
Tony Deakin the Chair of STAR Housing’s board said "We were delighted with the response to this year's gardening competition, with lots of people entering and showing off their amazing outdoor spaces, even those who didn't win really impressed the judges with their innovative use of their gardens and community spaces. We hope this competition has inspired even more people to get out into their gardens and connect with their community."
Overall, the winners of this year’s competition proved how many amazing gardeners there are here in Shropshire, and they will no doubt inspire future entrants to pursue their love of gardening.