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Neston garden wins Garden of the Year competition

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 August 2017

A miniature thatched cottage complete with cottage style planting and picket gate

A miniature thatched cottage complete with cottage style planting and picket gate

Linda Viney

The winners of our Garden of the Year competition have a new shed to shelter in when it rains on their glorious garden in Neston
Words and photographs by Linda Viney

Les and Sue by the shed they chose when they won our garden competition Les and Sue by the shed they chose when they won our garden competition

There is a Mediterranean area in the garden Les and Sue Murray have created in Neston, but the weather on my visit was unlike anything you’d hope for on your holidays.

Sitting in their conservatory as the rain lashed down, Sue explained how the couple’s shared passion for the garden helped them to win last year’s Cheshire Life Garden of the Year competition

Sue’s mother was artistic and she has clearly inherited a talent which she puts to good use planning and creating a colourful and well thought-out garden. As a small child Sue spent some of her pocket money on seeds and plants as she was given her own little garden, she even had a small wheelbarrow – and ended up with two as her sister didn’t want hers.

Les was a building surveyor and everywhere he worked he enjoyed looking at the gardens and visiting local parks when he had spare time. His grandfather grew roses and his shed was full of geraniums, or pelargoniums as we know them today.

The tranquil Harebell Lodge The tranquil Harebell Lodge

The first thing to see on our wet tour of the garden was the arrangement of conifers chosen for colour and style, all of which are clipped every week in the growing season to ensure they are kept under control and in shape. A pagoda appears among them and by the path, Les pointed out the ‘folly’ style building, a former air raid shelter camouflaged with ivy and gothic style windows.

And Sue has extended the 1940s theme into the garden building they were presented with by Olympian Garden Buildings of Sandbach when they were selected as the winners of our competition.

‘We couldn’t have been more thrilled,’ Sue said. ‘We wanted somewhere to over-winter tender plants, as well as an excellent potting shed. Olympian Garden Buildings were more than helpful as they put up shelves exactly where we asked.’

Around the building is a bed of palms and so many shades of green.

‘Les loves the many shades of green in a garden which offers tranquillity,’ Sue explained. ‘But I also love colour and therefore find bright colours of begonias in the beds lift the garden up especially on a dull day. I do go a bit mad as there are about 60 trays of these lovely plants.’

The leylandii hedge gives them added privacy and forms a great backdrop to the hanging baskets of bright pink petunias.

Another dimension to this garden is the gentle sound of a stream descending under a small Monet style bridge which runs over stone slabs into a pond complete with marginal plants and waterlilies. Alpines are planted either side to add colour as well as softening the edge. This area was one of the first constructions Les made when he retired seven years ago.

A small thatched ‘Fairy Dell Cottage’ with a box hedge around its garden which is planted in spring with mini tulips and daffodils, and cottage style planting in the summer. A blue picket gate leads up the garden path to the cottage, which was one of the last things master thatcher Barry Milne made before his retirement.

A colourful bed of begonias and a planted urn on a pedestal A colourful bed of begonias and a planted urn on a pedestal

Walking up the side of the water feature, a grass path led past some tree ferns before we discover ‘Harebell Cottage’, aptly named as it is painted in Harebell blue, potted plants are complimented with artificial plants gelling together really well.

Along this border is the magical Fairy Garden with its gipsy caravan, tree houses, Romeo and Juliet, and a fairy on a swing among the delights to be seen.

The garden is certainly their love and they work well together as a team spending every spare minute in the garden. Although time-consuming, they love it and will often work in the garden until dark.

‘We both love nature and encourage wildlife into the garden as much as possible though we drew the line at feeding peanuts for the squirrels as the seeds were dropped and small plants were popping up in the lawn. Dunnocks nest, dragonflies flit and hedgehogs wander, just listening to birdsong – what more could we want?’

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