Alan Titchmarsh MBE has always said that young gardeners must be encouraged to not only learn gardening skills but to enjoy the outside World more by taking an interest in nature and the countryside. He recalled that the Island has set a benchmark for other counties to copy for its floral displays which can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. This Island has always been known as The Garden Isle.

It was with great pleasure therefore that Alan presented the Peggy Jarman Trophy for this year’s winner of Wight In Bloom to 16 year old Lucas Richards.  Peggy’s son Terry assisted with the presentation.

Lucas from Nettlestone has gardened for a number of years after being encouraged to take up gardening by his Mum. He has entered Wight in Bloom, the annual contest organised by Visit Isle of Wight, for a number of years, in most cases winning a certificate or runner-op award for his efforts but this year he came out tops. He won the Young Peoples Initiative class as well as being the overall winner for his gardening skills which include growing plants from seeds and cuttings. He started gardening in his spare time whilst at school and now as an apprentice with Hovertravel fits this hobby around his work schedule. Following the presentations Lucas was pleased to present Alan with a gift of honey produced by bees kept by his beekeeping brother Gregg.

It was ironic perhaps that awards for all winners this year were made from recycled Hovercraft skirts and Pat from Hovertravel helped present the awards.

Will Myles (VIOW) welcomed Alan, winners and guests to Albert Cottage, East Cowes where following a delicious afternoon tea the awards ceremony took place. He thanked all those who had taken part and thanked the judges.

Numbers of entries across all categories were up and awards of note included: Best Small Front Garden-Sandy Crump, not the first time Sandy has won this award for the very colourful displays around her home.  Best Small Tourist Attraction- Mottistone Manor- a NT garden full of colour and interest.

Best Large Tourist Attraction- Robin Hill Country Park. Best Commercial Garden- St. Maur Hotel, Ventnor, (Alan commented that visitors to hotels and pubs etc are more inclined to visit if outside areas are attractive and inviting), Pride of Place Floral Project- Sandown Green Town Volunteers (especially enhancing the footpaths), Best Edible Garden- Glen Martin-Whitwell and Best Care Giving Complex- Sarah Starsmore Red Barn, Rookley. Sarah won the Patron’s Award in 2022 and agrees with Alan that complete rewilding is not advisable.

Alan. as Patron of Wight In Bloom presented The Patrons Award to The Farringford Estate saying there is a remarkable garden there, enhanced with quotes from Lord Tennyson whose home it once was.

Wight in Bloom will return for 2024- Look out for entry details in February.

Best Small Front Garden-Winner – Sandy Crump, Newport -Runner-up – Andria Richards, Nettlestone

Best Large Front Garden-Winner – Colin and Hilary Baily, Newchurch-Runner-up – Loren Thorn, Binstead

Best Small Tourist Attraction Garden-Winner – Mottistone Gardens–Runner-up – Farringford Estate-Highly Commended – Godshill Model Village

Best Large Tourist Attraction Garden-Winner – Robin Hill Country Park-Runner-up – Osborne House

Best Commercial Garden-Winner – St Maur Hotel, Ventnor-Runner-up – Haven Hall, Shanklin

Pride of Place Floral Project-Winner – Sandown Green Town Volunteers, planted beds on Cliff Path, Sandown-Runner-up – Bembridge Parish Council, War Memorial Garden

Best Young People Initiative -Winner – Lucas Richards, Nettlestone-Runner-up – St Georges School, Newport

Best Edible Garden-Winner – Glenn Martin, Whitwell-Runner-up – Nicola Fradgley, Niton

Best Container Garden-Winner – Mrs Nicky Robinson, Cowes-Runner-up – Mr & Mrs Smallman, Shankli

Best Care Giving Complex Garden-Winner – Sarah Starsmore, Rookley-Runner-up – St Mary’s Hospital New Ambulance Station Rest and Wellbeing Garden, Newport