Belfast Telegraph

Rural oasis in the heart of suburbia

Day two: the winning gardens in Belfast Telegraph's magnificent £4,000 competition

By Linda Stewart

They're the cream of the crop - the beautifully put together gardens that came out on top in our £4,000 Bloomin' Marvellous competition

Today we are announcing the winners of the Small Urban Garden category after our judges painstakingly examined hundreds of photos before visiting the most outstanding.

Our winner is Helen Trainor, whose suburban garden in Eglinton is packed with 'rooms' filling every corner, featuring everything from a rose-draped balcony to a pond with a bridge.

Our judges, BBC presenter Cherrie McIlwaine and Greenmount horticulture lecturer David Dowd, were fascinated as they explored the imaginative features, including 'windows' linking one part of the garden to the next.

"Everywhere I go in the house I can see the garden. It's always evolving and always changing," Helen said.

Cherrie described it as a "country garden which has come to town".

"Windows and doors have been designed to allow the garden to spill into the house and a neat wooden bridge arcs over the stoneclad pond full of lilies and happy fish," she said.

"The planting is unashamedly cottage garden with roses and clematis clothing walls and fences and campanula, perovskia, verbena bonariensis, aquilegia, penstemon and astilbe filling the beds and borders beside the pond.

"Neat raised beds are home to crops of salad vegetables and a pretty 'upcycled' summer house provides one of several places to sit and enjoy the view.

"A peep-hole through a hedge and a mirror on an ivy clad wall are some of the imaginative details in this pretty garden. Creating this charming urban garden has obviously been a labour of love and it is the winner in this category."

Runner-up is Shirley McKigney, whose tiny terrace back garden in Ballymena has been brought alive with a wealth of form and colour.

"To help soften the lines Shirley has planted a collection of interesting trees and the bed into which they are planted has been curved and banked to add some variation and height," Cherrie said.

"Elsewhere there are blueberry bushes bursting with new berries, roses, honeysuckle, crocosmia, agapanthus and other herbaceous lovelies.

"This is a lovingly tended garden where the plants are positively pinging with health."

Third place goes to Carol and Brian Mackey, whose plot in Dromore was described as a "happy herbaceous garden in a neat urban space".

"They have made the very most of a relatively small area with garden pathways of hexagonal brick and stone sets for easy maintenance and raised beds which are packed with lovely herbaceous plants, many of which they have grown from seed," Cherrie said. The judges also awarded a 'highly commended' to Elizabeth MacKay's "charming" apartment garden in Belfast, saying: "Herbaceous perennials and bright summer bedding make happy companions in this engaging and welcoming space".

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