I have spent the last two days venturing out of my little office into the great wide world of judging for the Newcastle-under-Lyme, Britain in Bloom, residential garden and hanging basket competition which was a very interesting and enjoyable two days.
In my line of work I tend to only visit gardens in which the owner is desperate to achieve horticultural excellence in a redesigned makeover garden which I hope would eventually mature into a garden the owner would make their own mark on over time, but to be given the chance to wander round in most cases a garden which you would aspire to, turned into the two most interesting days of my year so far.
Myself and Marcus Chilton-Jones curator from the Dorothy Clive Garden were given the task to visit and judge 24 gardens in the Newcastle Borough over two days, the awards we were judging for were, overall winner - gardens, overall winner - hanging baskets, most environmentally friendly garden and best newcomer. There will be gold, silver and bronze prizes awarded and also a new award for outstanding achievement. The point system which we were working to which was devised by the Newcastle Borough Council was a very fair and comprehensive system which was a joy to work with.
The most interesting part of the whole experience was to meet and listen to the garden owners who were quite obviously very proud of their gardens with good reason. We were audience to thier life story in some cases and how they become gardeners, we were taken through the trials and tribulations of plant loss due to the harsh winter and to learn of the joy in finding a new plant which they proudly displayed and as always in gardening you come across a new plant or gardening tip yourself, you are forever learning in gardening.
Some times during my 35 years in horticulture the interst does tend to wain but its times like these when you meet and dicuss gardening with people who still hold on to that passion you have lost, inspires and invigorates you to get your hands dirty once more.
I look forward to returning next year if I am invited.