Belfast Telegraph

Wild about my my garden: Beautiful haven in Killyleagh a 14-year labour of love for Mike and his late wife Ruth

By Linda Stewart

This is the stunning KIllyleagh garden bursting with life that is the latest inspirational entry in our Blooming Marvellous garden competition.

Mike Hartwell, who submitted the entry, created the vibrant garden with his late wife Ruth from nothing 14 years ago.

The garden, entered in the Small Country Garden category of the Belfast Telegraph's competition, is bursting with wildlife thanks to its naturalistic planting.

This May alone a moth survey of the garden counted 53 species, including a huge hummingbird hawk moth.

Mike said: "We strongly believed that a garden was a celebration of your life experience, not just a pretty thing to be looked at – thus it should relate seamlessly to the inside of the house, and the planting should express all that you have learned from nature.

"There are several habitats, a small woodland area, wildlife pond with camomile lawn and 200 self-sown orchids, gravel garden, wildflower meadow, and one side is given over to organic vegetable beds."

Something is always happening, as Mike explained.

"The garden is a work in progress and at any one time it may not be neat – something will be changing," he said.

"Most of the star displays are in May and June, and will be over by July, though a key principle was always year-round colour.

"My current project is a massive removal of grasses that had got the upper hand in two rear beds, and all the paths have become a bit overgrown due to neglect last year during my wife's illness, so later this summer I will be bringing them under control.

"Many visitors, however, like this wild quality, so, as always, it's a balance between what feels right and what's achievable."

The Belfast Telegraph wants to find the gardeners whose passion and skill have resulted in the most inspirational gardens in Northern Ireland.

The closing date isn't until July 4 – which means there is still time to get your entries in.

We are offering an incredible £1,000 worth of gardening products for the winning garden in each of our four categories, so get your camera out. You can enter your garden in Small Urban (which includes balconies and courtyards); Urban Garden; Small Country Garden, and Large Country Garden (over half-an-acre).

All you have to do is photograph a few views of your garden, add your name and contact details and either email or post your photos to us at the Belfast Telegraph. If you want, you can include a brief outline of a few paragraphs describing your garden, but this isn't compulsory.

Then just email your entry to bloomingmarvellous@belfasttelegraph.co.uk or post them to Linda Stewart at Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. The closing date is July 4, 2014. Our judges will scrutinise the entries in July and shortlist three from each category, after which they will visit the finalists' gardens.

And once we choose our winners, they will be interviewed and featured in a special Blooming Marvellous gardening supplement free with the newspaper in August.

Grow for gold... and enter our competition

How to enter our Blooming Marvellous garden competition:

  • Put the finishing touches to your balcony, courtyard or garden this June.
  • Photograph a couple of views of your garden – we need good, sharp images.
  • You can enter your garden in one of four categories: Small Urban (which includes balconies and courtyards); Urban Garden; Small Country Garden, and Large Country Garden (more than half-an-acre).
  • Email your entry to bloomingmarvellous@ belfasttelegraph.co.uk, including your name and contact details, garden photos, what category you are entering and a brief background if you want.
  • Or post your entries to Linda Stewart at Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB.
  • Closing date is July 4, 2014

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