Lanark’s Strictly Come Gardening 2019 winners

Sweet success...for John Prior who won the large garden category. As well as the award, John also enjoys the fruits of his labour ' a weekly jar of honey!
Sweet success...for John Prior who won the large garden category. As well as the award, John also enjoys the fruits of his labour ' a weekly jar of honey!

Clydesdale was once renowned for the orchards and glass tomato houses which peppered its landscape.

It aptly earned the Clyde Valley the nickname of the fruit bowl of Scotland.

First time entrants...David and Janet Tait were delighted with their win.

First time entrants...David and Janet Tait were delighted with their win.

And while it has been many years since those heady days, orchards are now being brought back to life and many growers are once again tilling the land.

With such fertile ground, it is little wonder the area is also a gardener’s paradise.

The Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council tapped into that market when it launched a gardening competition in 1985.

After many successful years, the contest ended in 1997 but public demand saw it being resurrected from 2004 to 2006.

Third time lucky...for Drew Towse who changed his colour palate in 2019.

Third time lucky...for Drew Towse who changed his colour palate in 2019.

After another hiatus, members resumed the competition once again in 2017 and it has been hotly-contested ever since.

This year, judges from Lanark Gardening Club and Lanark in Bloom faced tough decisions after visiting the 11 gardens competing for awards.

Cary Jones, judge and member of the gardening club, said: “The standard was very good, very different and very varied.

“The three judges looked at various different factors including the structure of each garden, enthusiasm and the wow factor, which we got in a few places this year.”

Liz Gray from Lanark Gardening Club and Ernest Romer from Lanark in Bloom completed the judging panel for the competition.

The 2019 Strictly Come Gardening contest had three categories – large, small to medium and courtyard or container garden.

And, after much deliberation, the winners and runners-up have now been revealed!

John Prior secured the large garden award.

He has been tending his plants at Friarsfield Road for 40 years and his flower beds on the corner plot provide a stunning spectacle for all who pass.

As well as a myriad of amazing plants, John’s garden is full of surprises including a water feature and a peacock.

It also boasts a roof top beehive, with more than 40,000 bees to help pollinate the plants and supply honey – beautifully flavoured by nectar from the adjacent lime tree.

John said: “It’s my daughter’s hive but I get to keep the honey and I eat a jar every week!”

A sweet success then for this dedicated gardener.

The small to medium garden award was presented to David and Janet Tait.

Tucked round the back of their Honeyman Crescent home, the couple have created a spectacular outdoor space.

In the enclosed oasis, strawberries, blueberries and peas thrive in tubs among a wide variety of plants and magnificent hanging baskets.

The first-time entrants were thrilled to win.

Janet said: “Gardening is our hobby.

“We buy all our plants locally and we get compost from Clydeside Trading. We are delighted to have won.”

Drew Towse, of Westport, tends another hidden gem which won the courtyard and container garden award.

Containers of all sizes are filled with flowers including lilies, daisies and begonias, in a colour scheme which Drew changes every year.

He said: “I was really surprised to win this year as this is the third year, but maybe it’s because it is so different from the blue and yellow of last year.”

The community council is delighted local gardeners are getting their hands dirty and entering the competition.

Secretary Eleanor McLean said: “Strictly Come Gardening has been running now for a couple of years in its new format and has been a great success.

“The community council would like to congratulate the winners and thank the judges for their time.

“We want to encourage people to enter next year and get some recognition for their hard work.

“It’s also a great way of exposing some of the hidden gems around town.”

The runners up were: large garden – Armour and Margaret Kenyon, St Mungos; small to medium garden – Jacqueline Pryde, Melvinhall Road; courtyard or container garden – Mr and Mrs Sliman, Gushet Place.

The winners and runners-up will receive their awards at the first meeting of Lanark Gardening Club in September.

Founded in 1975, the club is open to anyone with an interest in gardening.

From September to April, members meet on the third Thursday of the month, with an informal format where keen gardeners can learn from one another.

Clydesdale remains a grower’s paradise, tilled by people who love it – it’s clear our fertile land is still in very safe hands.