Garden of the Year Competition

Earlier in the year – much earlier in fact our local newspaper, The Press and Journal, advertised a Garden of the Year competition.  There were lots of lovely prizes on offer, with the best one being free tickets to Chelsea.  How could I not enter?

The competition was split into various distribution areas with Aberdeen city being the group I was in.

Time went on, and on, and on. I heard nothing after completing an online entry form back in the spring. I began to think it hadn’t gone through properly. I didn’t mind really as I had my mind on my open day and I never thought I would be in with a chance of winning anyway.

Then, just a few weeks ago I got an email with the full entry requirements.  They were not straightforward, but I decided to give it a go.

The photographs of the garden were easy to do, especially since the garden was looking at its best. We were allowed to enter up to 6 photos. Here are the ones I put in:

We put up a pagoda just in case. .. .

Garden open day in aid of charity

next day


Summer border

aerial view

Aerial view


Romantic border with bench


Japanese garden

Then we had to write 200 words why our garden was special. I found that quite difficult.  I could easily have written 2000 words, but every time I started I didn’t get very far before I hit the 200 word limit. My favourite idea was to take the reader on a ramble through the garden describing what we saw, smelled and heard on our way. I didn’t get past the patio before the words were used up!

I was beginning to think this was hopeless when I remembered Cathy’s  poems (from Rambling in the Garden).  You can convey so much more in a few words that you can with pros so I put my poet’s hat on and started writing.  It came relatively easily as I had so much I loved about my garden.  I ended up writing  three similar poems and then combining the best bits of all of them.

I did cheat a little bit.  The winning gardens from each area are going to be judged in person, by  Beechgrove Garden’s Jim McColl. Now despite living just down the road from the Beechgrove Garden I have never been a fan, much preferring Monty Don and Gardener’s World. (SSHHH please don’t tell). However I have a friend who despite living in England is an avid watcher of Beechgrove Garden. She was able to tell me Jim’s loves and hates when it comes to gardening. Strangely enough they were very similar to my own. Maybe I should start watching him again.

So here is the poem. Please don’t read it too carefully – I would never have entered it in a poetry competition!

Why my Garden is Special

Scents of honeysuckle and roses,

Waiting round every corner.

Sweet peas demanding to be picked

And brought inside to savour.

Rosemary, mint next to oregano

And lemon balm you can’t help but crush

On your morning ramble.


Lush green grass with neat, sharp edges

Setting the stage for the seasonal displays.

Bold herbaceous plants vie for attention

while shy little ones hide in the corners

But valued just as much.


The damp shady places full of ferns and hostas

And little wood anemones poking through damp soil in spring.

The dry borders under the mature trees

Where nothing should grow,

But it does.


A place to sit

And look

At the windswept bamboo

In the Japanese garden

And listen

To the birds chattering on the feeders,

Or singing on the fence to catch their mates.


The constant change from day to day

And year to year

The first snowdrop of spring

To the last berries of winter.

The heavy dew outlining the spider’s webs

And the winter frosts lacing the seedheads

Left standing

As winter food.


And finally the snow

Hiding and protecting all the secrets beneath

Until it all begins again.


Finally, and this was the hardest part, we had to provide a plan of our garden.  Again, inspired by Cathy’s maps, I have been trying to do this for several years now. I already had the outline printed off from Google maps, but had never got any further.  There was nothing for it this time. If I wanted to enter I had to complete it. It did take some time, but I was pleased with the result.  I would have liked to have used Photoshop, or similar, to colour in the different areas, but I would still be working on it now if I had tried that. Instead I just borrowed some colouring pencils and tried not to go over the lines!

Plan of my garden

Plan of my garden

They haven’t announced the prizewinners yet, but they have already published some garden photos.  What I hadn’t anticipated was that they would publish our writings about our garden too, which meant, yes, my little poem.

Newspaper cutting

Newspaper cutting

So now we have to wait. I know there are more deserving gardens in Aberdeen, I have been round some of them.   I also think it likely that they are keeping the best for last and the ones published already were the ‘also rans’.   However it  sounds as if there are lots of prizes going for runners up  . . . . .

With special thanks to Cathy for your poetry and map inspiration.



28 thoughts on “Garden of the Year Competition

    • Thanks Christina – it will be very interesting to see which gardens they choose for winners. They have small balcony gardens up against big castle walled gardens. I have no idea how they will decide between such different gardens.

    • Thanks Lynda. It is the home section in the paper tomorrow. They might announce some winners then or they could just put in more photos I suppose and make us wait – and buy more newspapers!

    • That would actually be a real long shot Gillian as there are some amazing gardens in the distribution area of the paper. I will be very happy to be a runner up in the Aberdeen city area and hopefully get a garden voucher.

    • Thanks Pauline. I have as many flowers crammed in as I can Pauline and hope they compliment each other. However if I was judging this competition I would be looking for more garden design. We enjoy the space our lawn gives and wouldn’t want any more areas to look after either. I might put up a few arches one day though! I’m hoping for a garden voucher as the competition is being run together with a garden centre.

  1. You deserve to win as much as any other lovely garden in Aberdeen. It is so hard writing just 200 words and you did really well with your poem. I felt like it, your poem, took me through your garden through the different seasons. Fingers crossed and a Good luck x

  2. I admire the words you used to describe your pleasure derived from being in your garden. Taking time to notice these details makes the garden more special. Good luck in the competition Annette.

    • Thank you very much. We just found out that the overall winner won’t be announced until September and they are going to keep showing photos they have received up until then.

  3. Looks like a winner to me. In our village horticultural show we have a garden of the year. The judging is done by “professional gardeners” who visit the garden. Afterwards we are able to see their comments. One year one of them said, Nice garden but needs more seats! Actually we have 5 three seater benches, a circular tree seat and two steamer chairs all in just less than an acre. I think they must have had thier eyes shut. Anyway, hope you have a better judge and good luck

    • Thanks for your kind comment Steve. I think they must have got your garden confused with another one. I hope you have better luck next time. I have just followed your blog to read more about your garden.

    • Thanks Julie. I do like competitions. The area winners should hear soon as they get a visit from Jim McColl of The Beechgrove Garden. I wouldn’t expect to go any further as there are some fantastic gardens once you get out of Aberdeen. There are some pretty good ones in Aberdeen too – it just depends whether they bothered to enter.

    • Well it is always good to try things – it encouraged me to write a poem and who knows where that will lead! I also finally got the map of the garden done so I could put in on my blog!

  4. Annette – I am loving your poem and the beautiful pictures and the plan – well done!! Looking forward to hearing how the competition goes – I think your garden is great entry.

  5. Annette, I loved your garden and the poem! Don’t you think that the “professional gardeners” are always looking for something “way out there”? I like the cottage, romantic gardens, that are well tended and thought through and maintained by the gardener, who actually lives there! Just like yours! Oh, if I had to write a poem it would be a no go for me! Your garden design is great too! Well done! You won in my book!

    • Thank you so much. You might surprise yourself with writing a poem, especially these poems that don’t need to rhyme or even scan. The words just come and you write them down!!!

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