Picture of the week: Gate opens up path to secret garden
It's a secret garden that breathes and blooms in a small corner of Belfast.
Instead of walking out to the busy road, this is a spot that makes you want to stop and ponder.
It's also shows the floral beauty that can be achieved in the most restricted of gardens – if you have patience and the devotion to tend.
This abundant pathway lies on North Parade, off the Ormeau Road, and is just one of the stunning photographs that the Belfast Telegraph has received as part of our Blooming Marvellous gardening competition.
The competition – worth a £4,000 cash prize – closed yesterday.
Our judges will draw up their shortlists next week and the final judging and garden visits will take place later this month.
Judging of the small urban and small country garden categories will take place on July 18 and judging of the urban and large country garden categories on July 21.
Flowers and blooms are important to us for a variety of reasons; for the colours, shapes, fragrances and to remind us about the passing of time.
As the American political activist Emma Goldman put it, "I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
There is more than a hint of secret garden in this photograph. The owner tells us that it was the plan to create a small, pebbled area surrounded by plants.
Over the years, holly, hawthorne, rowan tree, lilac, camellia, herbs, climbing roses and lots of pots have established and grown alongside one another to provide a living blanket between their home and the outside.
But it's not just the blooms that thrive in this garden; it attracts baby robins, starlings, blue tits and great tits to visit, bringing their own life and colour with them. Gardening and the love of all things horticultural is something that arguably either you grew up with – as a love passed down from parent, or grandparent – or comes to you at a mature age, when the excitement of watching things grow beats watching the box.
Either way, it really is Blooming Marvellous.