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:
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
At the windswept bamboo
In the Japanese garden
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
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!
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.
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.