Blooming Marvellous competition: First two winners in Belfast Telegraph's £4,000 competition revealed
It's here at last! For months we've been searching for Northern Ireland's finest gardens as part of our Blooming Marvellous competition.
Our judges have trawled through hundreds of photos as more than 60 people sent in entries in a bid to win a share of the £4,000 prize fund.
Today we announce the worthy victors of two of the four categories – Large Urban and Small Country.
Winner of the former is Victor and Roz Henry's glorious garden on the outskirts of Newtownards.
Tropical ginger lilies and banana plants jostle with cottage-style roses and verbascum, delivering vivid bursts of colour.
Our judges – Rowallane head gardener Averil Milligan and garden designer Trevor Edwards – were impressed.
Averil said: "There was an exotic feel even before entering this garden as colourful plants bordered the gravel and spilled out of pots. The gate immediately took your eye up to a pergola above and wooden shelving on a wall giving vertical elements immediately in a clever way.
"Beyond the luscious lawn a decking area awaited with a pond behind. The eye is drawn around the site by a soft blue palette of wooden structures, glass or plants.
"A gate leads onto a path of crunchy gravel leading to a summerhouse. The unusual planting complemented the whole garden, softening edges and creating a sense of surprise throughout."
Trevor added: "Roz and Victor Henry's garden was a charming, intimate experience filled with many choice shrubs and plants framed within a number of well-structured compartments.
"The detail can be typified by their use of every space without appearing crammed. I enjoyed the use of the slim hanging pot plant theatres on the walls. The design of the garden provides featured seating to enjoy the garden at all time of the day."
The winner had healthy competition from the other finalists, including runner-up Denis Boal with his oasis of calm behind a Victorian townhouse in Bangor.
The former orchard still harboured some mature fruit trees, and featured a series of entrancing walkways, an impressive vegetable patch and a small colony of hens.
Averil said: "This was a lovely mix of garden compartments with formality in some parts, others less so. Formal circular pond, miniature bridges enclosed with gravel is the first eye-catcher.
"A fallen tree left for wildlife value and surrounded by wildflower encapsulated one area beside an old pear tree contrasts in another area. Refreshing to see well tended vegetables in rows at one side of a path, other in formal lawn. Pergolas and hedging used to maximum use for privacy."
The bronze award went to the gorgeously scented Moorish inspired courtyard garden at Rugosa Villa in Portstewart designed by James Logan.
Averil commented: "Vistas and seating to relax, all surrounded by roses and clematis. A clever use of space with a water rill cooling you, giving sound by trickling and giving length to the eye. Private areas to sit following the course of the sun through the day.
"A garden loved by its owners and enjoyed daily. Clever lighting opens it up again for the evening. This garden punched a lot in and was very cleverly laid out to maximum use of space, but still giving time to relax and enjoy."
The winners of the final two categories will be revealed tomorrow.