Cheshire Life 2012 Garden of the Year in association with Bents Garden and Home

PUBLISHED: 14:50 22 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:25 20 February 2013

Pupils at St Winifred’s Primary School, Heaton Mersey, Stockport, who have won the Cheshire Life School Garden of the Year title.

Pupils at St Winifred’s Primary School, Heaton Mersey, Stockport, who have won the Cheshire Life School Garden of the Year title.

Schools and amateur gardeners from all over the county entered our Garden of the Year 2012 competition. Now we reveal the winners

Cheshire Life and Bents would like to thank all schools and domestic gardeners who submitted entries. We were very impressed by the gardens and the stories behind the finished result. We will be in touch with some entrants to feature their garden in the magazine next year.

St Winifreds School were once famous for topping the charts way back in 1980 with their hit single Theres No-one Quite Like Grandma.
But now another generation of pupils at the Heaton Mersey school are singing for joy. The reason? They have been declared winners of Cheshire Lifes School Garden of the Year 2012 competition.

Their success in the competition, run in conjunction with Bents Garden and Home, means the school has won a 1,000 gift voucher, courtesy of Bents, to spend at their impressive retail store at Glazebury, near Warrington.

Head teacher Mrs Pat Smith, was thrilled by news of St Winifreds success.
She told Cheshire Life: This is fantastic because so much hard work has gone on to create a garden. In the none too distant past, our school areas were a sea of grey concrete. Our pupils, their parents, families and other members of the local community have worked together to try to change that.

Mrs Smith submitted an impressive detailed account to the judges explaining how many childen are involved in a hands on way on a regular basis, and responsible for particular areas of the garden.

This allotment has also taught our children so much about healthy eating and rotational planting as well as gardening techniques, plant growth and development. Science and art lessons benefit, together with maths, as vegetables are weighed, bagged and priced.

St Winifreds school gardens recently earned Royal Horticultural Society Awards. The children even planted a Jubilee Hedge to mark the Queens diamond anniversary. They are very keen recyclers and there are school compost monitors.

Matthew Bent, managing director of Bents, explained why this garden impressed him among all the other school entries. The whole school has got involved. Their work on the allotment means they are doing so many different things. Everybody has a planting rota so that is brilliant. It is great that they are all working together and also learning about vegetables and nutrition.

Equally impressive, but in a very different style was the garden at the home of Sue and Dave Colegate in Mollington, near Chester. The couple were delighted to be told they had won the adult Garden of the Year title. They too will win a 1,000 voucher to spend at Bents.

The couple bought their home, Beechwood, in 2001 when it was a dilapidated bungalow with a leaking wooden roof.

Sue explained: The garden, two thirds of an acre was completely walled, that being the deciding factor. Originally the kitchen garden of Mollington Hall which was demolished in 1936, the garden though neglected had a number of mature trees including beech, cherry, larch and a beautiful gingko biloba. It was months later that we discovered the large boggy area at the bottom of the garden was in fact a natural pond that had been there for hundreds of years. Despite all this we could see the potential straight away and we knew all the hard work ahead would be worth it.

The judges certainly agreed that their work was worth it. Matthew Bent said: This has clearly been a labour of love and this couple have shown some determination. There are so many features in the different areas of the garden to keep you really interested as you walk around. There is some history behind the garden, which is fascinating.

Some time after beginning their hard work Sue and Dave made an interesting find. Sue said: Near the house there was a circular bed with large old conifers past their best. We tackled this next, removing dead shrubs. Then we discovered what we thought was just a circle of bricks 15 ft in diameter. But it was a gasometer which served the old hall. This had been filled in with soil but the old taps were still there. We spent a week removing soil to expose the circular brick wall until we had dug down about three feet. We then created a sunken eating area which we at a later stage put sides and a roof on so it is perfect for barbecues and parties.

Matthew Bent commented: The discovery of the gasometer has created a really interesting feature which has become a multi-purpose space and they are letting others enjoy it with them. Clearly a lot of hard work and impressive work has gone on here. They deserve congratulations for their achievement.

Cheshire Lifes photographer will visit both winning gardens next spring when they are in full bloom so we can show readers what St. Winifreds pupils and the Colegates have achieved.

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