Gardeners defeat the weather

BUDDING horticulturists who took part in this year s Buntingford in Bloom were described as brave after contending with a drought and a hose-pipe ban. Twenty residents took part in the competition during one of the hottest July s on record, but persever

BUDDING horticulturists who took part in this year's Buntingford in Bloom were described as "brave" after contending with a drought and a hose-pipe ban.

Twenty residents took part in the competition during one of the hottest July's on record, but perseverance paid off and they succeeded in turning their gardens into havens.

Chief judge Andrew Coote said: "I thought they were brave to enter in a year like this. But in spite of the drought, the overall standard was better than last year as long as you ignored the grass.

"There were more flowers which were better than I had ever seen and they were absolutely magnificent in some gardens.

"Because the entrants were using watering cans, it was obvious they had taken more care of their flowers."

Maurice Spencer, of Monks Walk, said he was "delighted" to win best front garden and to be crowned joint winner of best special feature.

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Last year was his first attempt and he was commended for his front garden.

"When I bought the house five-and-a-half-years ago the garden was in pretty good condition so I only had to do minor adjustments to bring it up to date. So a lot of the credit should go to the previous owner."

Fuchsias are the main focus of Mr Spencer's feature.

He said: "Because I have a small garden I can't grow my first love, which are dahlias and chrysanthemums, so I had to grow something else and fuchsias fitted the bill.

"It's lovely to be a joint winner for this category."

Jane Smith, of the High Street, entered the competition for the first time and won best patio.

She retired from teaching at Layston School in Buntingford last year and now has more time to take up her love of gardening.

One of the judges described the patio as a "haven of tranquillity".

"The patio has a lovely feel because it's quite enclosed and full of colour," Mrs Smith said.

During the hot weather Mrs Smith said she had to persevere with the watering can because her garden is south facing.

"It got a beating from the sunshine and as a result I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to take part," she said.

Rosemary Parker, of Monks Walk, who won best hanging basket, has taken part in the competition for the past six years.

She took up gardening about 10 years ago after retiring.

"I will take part next year, but I hope we won't have another hose-pipe ban because it's been hard carrying the cans in the hot weather and you have to water twice a day," she said.

Sidney Buck, of Dixon Place, was the joint winner of best special feature.

He has won the category for the past two years and said: "Everyone speaks about my feature when they walk past because it's so colourful. I have always loved gardening. The soil is in my blood because I have worked on a farm all my life and used to do showing with flowers and vegetables when I had a big garden. I also grew my own vegetables."

Val Morgan, of Peasmead, was the winner of best back garden.

She said: "It takes a long time to learn so I'm really happy to have won this category. I have taken part for the past three years and this is the first time I have won.

"I have done a lot more to my garden this year. I have opened the back up so we can look out onto the fields. It's more of a cottage garden because there's lots of colour and different shrubs."

The aim of the annual event is to make the town a pleasant place in which to live and work, as well as supporting business and encouraging activities which help to develop a living community.

Town manager Mark Dell said: "The bar is being raised year by year.