Clovenfords’ amateur gardeners put on their blooming best to impress top judges

L-r, Robin Brashier, Dr Sandy Hillman, husband John Hillman and Jim McColl (from The Beechgrove Garden) all shelter from the heavy rain. Three judges were taken around gardens in Clovenfords in their Local Garden Competition.
L-r, Robin Brashier, Dr Sandy Hillman, husband John Hillman and Jim McColl (from The Beechgrove Garden) all shelter from the heavy rain. Three judges were taken around gardens in Clovenfords in their Local Garden Competition.

A HIDDEN gem in the amateur gardening world.

That was the assessment of Clovenfords from no less an authority than Jim McColl, stalwart of the Beechgrove Garden and chief judge of the village’s first gardens competition which was held in unseasonably wet weather on Thursday.

Clovenfords Garden Competition, 1st prize, Murray.

Clovenfords Garden Competition, 1st prize, Murray.

The continuous rain did not, however, dampen the spirits of the illustrious arbiters, who cast their eye over 15 entries before collating their results at a prize-giving barbecue in Caddonfoot Village Hall.

“What a fantastic event,” enthused Clovenfords resident and Scottish Borders Council representative Gavin Logan.

One of about 55 villagers at the barbecue, Mr Logan added: “This competition was a great initiative by Clovenfords and District Community Council, hugely assisted by the efforts of Professor Michael Wilson. I am sure everyone in the village will look forward to it becoming an annual event.”

When the scorecards were tallied up, the winner of the best garden was announced as Jim Murray of Craigmyle Gardens at the former Peel Hospital site.

“His beautiful Japanese-style garden, inspired by his travels around the world, was a very popular and deserved winner,” said community council chair Michelle Ballantyne.

Steven and Linda Ormiston took second prize with their garden at Leyden Park, while Robin and Anne Brashier of Craigmyle Park came third.

In the category of most productive garden, Clare and Stewart Martin, also of Craigmyle Park, secured first prize, with Alistair and June Martin of Whytbank Row runners up and Ian Stage, another Craigmyle Park resident, in third place. There was an “honourable mention” for the spectacular garden restoration created by David and Tracey Mason at Fairnilee House which was clearly, believed the judges, in a class of its own in terms of size, scope and design. There was also a consensus that Norman Taylor had the best lawn.

Mr McColl was assisted in his deliberations by Professor John Hillman, a retired past director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute, and his wife Dr Sandy Hillman.

The prestigious trio had answered the call of the aforementioned Dr Wilson, a resident of Craigmyle Park, who was formerly chief executive of Horticultural Research International, the UK’s government’s main testing and development arm for market gardening, fruit and related crops.

And while the event had been organised for local interest and fun, the scoring, based on Royal Horticultural Society rules, was nothing if not rigorous,

At the barbecue, Mrs Ballantyne presented mementos to each of the judges and thanked competition sponsors Cube GB and Ballantynes of Walkerburn who provided the prize money and crystal vase trophies.

Anyone wishing to visit the winning gardens can do so between noon and 5pm this Sunday.

A list of all participating gardens and directions and how to find them is available from Smith’s Stores in Clovenfords for a £1 donation to community funds.