Bloomin' lovely gardens!

Release Date: 25-Jul-2011
Residents from Conway Crescent in Batley Carr have taken the top prize in Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing’s (KNH) annual gardening competition.
Rita King with the judges at Conway Crescent

Rita King with the judges at Conway Crescent

Heather Hargreaves, winner of the best garden (house or bungalow) category, south Kirklees

Heather Hargreaves, winner of the best garden (house or bungalow) category, south Kirklees

The gardeners, led by Rita King and her family, were also awarded the top prize in the best use of communal space category for north Kirklees.

From the front, Conway Crescent looks just like a normal three-storey block of flats. But going through the back door into the communal courtyard behind the flats, you enter a little oasis, with flower, fruit and vegetable beds, a lawn, patio, seating areas, children’s play equipment and individual planters for each of the residents.

The garden is at the heart of the Conway Crescent community and has been recognised every year since the competition began in 2007. Its continuing evolution continues to wow the judges, who include tenants’ representatives and a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. But what impresses most is not the range of features in the garden but the community spirit that it embodies.

A diverse range of tenants live at Conway Crescent – singles, couples, families, young, old, white and Asian.

This diversity shines in the details of the garden. Everyone helps develop and maintain the garden with each person’s identity clearly marked in the areas they work. The children design and paint the pots and the adults take responsibility for maintaining the borders, grass and building the furniture, most of which has been built from scratch from recycled materials.

Each block has its own seating area and there are communal toys, including a large trampoline and inflatable swimming pool for all the children to enjoy. Dogs are welcome, but their owners were sensitive to the culture of their neighbours and only allowed them out at certain times. Children – without being told – clear away the mess!

Head judge and gardening expert Graham Porter said: “This fabulous community garden serves a flat complex and has evolved over the last five years into the best community space in Kirklees, with facilities to satisfy every resident, from young children to older adults. Rita King has been the force behind this garden and, with help from other residents, gathering discarded building materials for garden features, she has produced an example for other similar complexes to follow.”

According to Rita, “We’re thrilled to have won not just our category, but the overall prize in the competition. Everyone works hard on the garden so it’s wonderful to get recognition for our efforts.”

The gardening club received £100 in gardening vouchers.

Cllr David Sheard, cabinet member for housing, said: “Although I’m not a gardener myself, I can appreciate all the effort that all those who entered the competition have put into their gardens, and I’d like to congratulate all those who took. Their gardens bring pleasure to their neighbours and help make sure their estates are attractive places to live.”

Paul Buckley, KNH’s Director of Operations, said: “Many of our tenants work very hard in their gardens and their efforts deserve to be recognised. This competition is our chance to thank them for their work and to encourage others to start taking pride in their gardens.”

KNH Excel Manager Helen O’Sullivan, said: “This is the fifth year we’ve run the competition and we’ve been overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the entries. We’d like to thank everyone who entered and hope that even more people will take part next year and help make their estates blossom!”

The other winners:
• Best individual garden (house or bungalow) - Bill & Jackie Baxter, Church Road, Batley; Heather Hargreaves, Turnshaw Road, Kirkburton
• Best use of small space – Kathleen & Michael Bates, Town Street, Earlesheaton, Dewsbury; Krystyna Hasnick, Springwood, Huddersfield
• Best fruit or vegetable garden – Doreen Fawcett, Withens Road, Fieldhead; Catherine Thompson & Michael Foley, Longfield Avenue, Dalton, Huddersfield
• Best communal garden – Gladys Schofield, Pottery Street
• Best retirement grange garden - Sycamore Grange, Golcar
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