Stansted in Bloom: Winners celebrate blooming marvellous success
This year's Stansted in Bloom competition attracted record entries as villagers used the extra time at home during the pandemic to get their gardens and other outdoor spaces looking blooming marvellous.
Almost 50 households competed in the colourful categories, with judges creating sub-categories and introducing "highly commended" awards to acknowledge the efforts and sights they saw during a full day of judging.
And all entrants were invited to an outdoor ceremony at Crafton Green to hear who had won and to collect their trophies.
Cllr Paul Davies, who will be joining the judging team next year, said: "It's wonderful to see so many members of our community get involved in this competition and share the pride they have in their open spaces with others.
"The Stansted in Bloom committee have done an incredible job this year, utilising social media to create a buzz, and are now harnessing the new interest from all corners of the village to make Stansted in Bloom much more visible in the community, not just for next year but through other flower-filled initiatives."
Pictures of the winning gardens and open spaces, as well as images of some of Stansted's prettiest open spaces, will be submitted for virtual judging in the regional Anglia in Bloom contest.
Stansted in Bloom is sponsored by Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers and estate agent Intercounty. Judges this year included Sally Lewis, of garden centre Folies of Stansted, and Lower Street florist Paris Legore.
Winners received £20 gardening vouchers, a shield to display for the year and framed certificates.
The winners, runners-up and highly commended:
Winner – Mike Prince (Elms Farm)
Mike was one of the first people to take on an allotment at Elms Farm, in January 2019, and said winning was a nice surprise because, as he said, there were quite a few good plots on the Church Road site.
Modest Mike added: "This year the strawberries and raspberries have been particularly good but the slugs seem to have had a great year!"
And Mike's top tip? Little and often. "A lot of people put in a few weekends of initial hard graft and then leave the plot for a while and nature takes over – keep on top of it with a few hours each week."
Runner-up – Eric and Barbara Fidell (Pennington Lane)
Highly Commended – Madge Chambers (Elms Farm)
Winner – Jillian Park, Bentfield Gardens
Jillian has lived in Bentfield Gardens for 21 years and Stansted for 29 years. She was particularly pleased with her giant sunflowers in the front garden and the small rockery/fairy/alpine garden in the back, which is home to a lonesome frog in the tiny water feature!
She said: "My only advice is to do little and often to keep weeds under control and plant wildlife-friendly plants as much as possible as birds and bugs bring a garden to life."
Runner-up – Christine Daley, Recreation Ground
Winner – Gloria and John Overy, Burton End
"We honestly weren't expecting to win," said Gloria and John, who have lived in Burton End since 2002.
Due to Covid restrictions and garden centres being closed for a good while during lockdowns, the Overys managed to grow from cuttings and seed, including bedding plants and vegetables, and are especially pleased with their hostas and margaritas, which have all come from one plant.
They said there was nothing like getting out there little and often as much as possible to keep on top of dead-heading and weeding rather than facing it all in one go. Also, cutting the grass one level above what they have normally done in the past has resulted in a healthier lawn.
They said: "Top tip would be get out there when it's dark with a torch and capture all those slugs and snails that you never knew existed during the day! This is a better method than slug pellets and still leaves plenty for the hedgehogs to munch on."
Runner-up – Patricia Larby, Bentfield Green
Highly Commended – Jamie and Gale Hogg, Bentfield Green
Winner – Burcu Munyas Ghadially, Walson Way
Runner-up – Keiran Oliver, Bayford Way
TUBS & HANGING BASKETS
Winner – Terry and Beryl Potter, Chapel Hill
Terry and Beryl have lived in Chapel Hill for 13 years and are most proud of the hostas, ferns and acers that fill the tubs and borders in their garden – and, to quote the Elvis Costello song, it's been a good year for the roses!
Top tip from Terry is simple: feed, feed and feed your baskets. They'll reward you if you do.
Runner-up – Lois Prior, Stoney Common
Highly Commended – Christine Daley, Recreation Ground
Winner – Mountfitchet House Care Home, Coltsfield
Runner-up – Human Roots Community, Elms Farm
Highly Commended – Five Residents, Burton End Barns