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Over 100 guests gathered at the Quay Arts Centre on Friday for this year’s Wight in Bloom awards, celebrating Island horticultural excellence.

Wight In Bloom’s Patron, celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh MBE VMH DL, presided over the ceremony, which took place in the Anthony Minghella Theatre.

Supported and managed for the past 4 years by Visit Isle of Wight (VIOW) together with event sponsor Red Funnel Ferries, Wight in Bloom is open to all Island residents and organisations with the aim to make the Island a brighter, greener place to live and visit.

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114 gardens were all visited by a panel of volunteer judges during July, scoring the entries for their design, range of plants, colour, presentation, maintenance and creativity. This year a new judging element was introduced ‘How Green Is Your Garden’ – gardens were awarded bonus points for recycling, wildlife friendly habitats and water saving ideas. Given the dry conditions that gardeners had to cope with this summer, water saving was a top priority.

There were some outstanding individual, professional and community entrants, one worthy of mention being Community Kids who had to cope with their gardens being vandalised at Sandown Railway Station, however they persevered and came away as winners of their category. 11-year-old Lucas Richards sold his play house to buy the materials to create his own garden, raised his own plants from seeds, so he well deserved his Highly Commended Award in his category.

The toughest task was deciding the overall winner, who received the Peggy Garman Trophy (Founder of Wight In Bloom). A group of judges visited the best gardens in each category to choose the winner. Sue Cheek was the eventual overall winner for her allotment at Quarry Road in Ryde.

Sue said:

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked, I really can’t believe it. It was really hard work, but at the end of the day, it was worth it.”

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Sue puts her win down to being green:

“I think I used a lot of recycled things, in fact everything on the allotment is recycled and when you looked at it, you couldn’t see everything, you had to walk around the allotment to see everything.”

Sue’s allotment in Ryde. Photo by Suzanne Whitewood

Alan Titchmarsh MBE, VMH DL, said:

“I think the fact that we’ve had 114 people entering this competition, it grows year on year. It’s people that remember that the Isle of Wight’s always been called the Garden Isle and who take that to heart and decide that their gardens will help to bolster that reputation. It’s so important, we all know how good we feel, even if we’re not gardeners, going down a street or a road or a lane and seeing a beautiful garden It adds to the pleasures of life it adds to the quality of life and all of these people here, they’re at the top of the game, they’ve done the most to make this island blossom.

“It makes me feel as though my life has been vindicated, I was passionate about growing things from the age of about eight, decided there and then that I wanted to be a gardener for a living and I have done for an awfully long time now, so to see youngsters coming on is just the best thing in the world and you don’t want to force them too much, it’s gentling them along, make sure they enjoy it. Mainly, to start with, just enjoy being outside, they don’t need to know Latin names and all that kind of complicated thing.”

Winners of Wight in Bloom 2018

Each finalist was awarded a Red Funnel Travel Voucher and a Liz Earle Gift Bag

Category 1 – Best Small Front Garden
Winner- Susan Midgely, Sandown
Runner Up – John Cavanagh, Ryde
Highly Commended Mr and Mrs David Smallman, ShanklinCategory 2 – Best Large Front Garden
Joint Winners – Steve & Carol Denness ,Sandown and  Jo Hardy-Bishop, ShanklinHighly Commended – Mr F.S.Brett, Binstead

Category 3 – Best Commercial Garden
Joint Winners – Haven Hall, Shanklin and Vernon Cottage, Shanklin
Highly Commended – Bembridge Coast Hotel

Category 4 – Best Senior Citizen Complex
WinnerKnights Court, Ventnor
Runner Up –  Mountbatten Hospice, Newport
Highly Commended –The Limes, Bembridge

Category 5 – Young People Initiative
Winner – Wootton Primary School
2nd – Niton Primary School
Highly Commended – Shalfleet Primary School
Highly Commended – Lucas Richards, Nettlestone

Category 6 – Best Community Floral Project
Winner – Community Kids, Sandown Railway Station
Runner Up – Northwood House, Cowes
Highly Commended – Sandown Green Town Volunteers, Pier View Gardens

Category 7 – Best Small Tourist Attraction
Winner – The Walled Garden, Farringford Estate, Freshwater
Runner Up – Rylstone Tea Gardens, Shanklin
Highly Commended – Princess Beatrice Garden, Carisbrooke Castle – English HeritageCategory 8 – Best Large Tourist Attraction Garden
Winner – Mottistone Gardens, National Trust
Runner Up – Robin Hill Country Park
Highly Commended – Ventnor Botantic GardenCategory 9 – Best Creative Use of a Small Space
Winner – Elizabeth Allan, Northwood
Joint Runners Up– Nicola Robinson, Cowes and Graham & Jackie Smith.

Category 10 – Best Water Feature
Winner – Patricia McCree, Binstead
Runner Up – Peter Blow, Newport
Highly Commended – Den Clare, Shanklin

Category 11 – Best Edible Garden
Winner – Sue Cheek, Ryde
Runner Up – Andy and Sue Garner, Seaview
Highly Commended – Pam Toms, Northwood

Overall Winner of The Peggy Jarman Trophy
Sue Cheek, Quarry Road Allotments, Ryde

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