Kent Life Garden of the Year competition finalists

PUBLISHED: 11:32 14 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013

Bexon Manor

Bexon Manor

Our second Kent Life Garden of the Year competition has again unearthed some wonderful entries. After much deliberation, our judging panel selected the finalists for Kent's Best Amateur Garden and Best Primary School Garden

Words and pictures by Leigh Clapp

Bexon Manor, Bredgar

"Our two-acre garden is made up of different enclosed areas, including an iris garden, a terrace garden with hydrangeas and herbaceous beds. My most special area is the kitchen garden, with nine yew-edged squares filled with vegetables, flowers and herbs, as we created it from an empty space and it has also been my biggest challenge. The sheer pleasure and joy of the garden makes all the hard work worthwhile."

Owners: Kathy and Robert Reeves

3, Chainhurst Cottages, Marden

"The tenth-of-an-acre garden that surrounds our cottage is what has been referred to as a modern cottage garden. I have been influenced by many visits to nearby Sissinghurst Castle, which I love. I have burgundy, silver and subtle shades of lilac, pink and blue planting and have used both green and purple beech hedging to create separate areas. I love growing vegetables and I mix flowers both for cutting and to add colour. Although the garden is fairly small I feel it is packed with interest."

Owner: Heather Scott

Mere House, Mereworth

"At Mere House we have essentially a spring and autumn garden, though we enjoy the lawns and roses in the summer. It extends to about six acres, encircled by trees, except for an open aspect to the south across a small lake. This important feature was made by widening and canalising 300 yards of a stream when the house was built in 1780."

Owners: Tessa and Andrew Wells

Riverside, Maidstone

"Being by the river has its challenges, we have reclaimed some of the riverbank and flooding is a peril. I decided to make up different areas of the garden with shrubs and I was inspired by some lovely gardens on the River Wey to plant hydrangeas on the riverbank. At the time I didnt think about deadheading hence I must be one of the few gardeners who uses a rowing boat! We love our garden. Its a fun place boating, pedaloing and where else could you sit and watch the beautiful swans floating past or have geese and ducks visit you for a Sunday lunchtime stroll?"

Owners: Jenny Adams and Terry Riley

Tanglewood, Pembury

"For the last six years we have worked to make the garden what it is today, although there always seems to be some work in progress! I knew when I started the garden that I wanted different areas and not to see the garden all at once. I am a passionate plantswoman and have more than 1,500 varieties of plants in my garden and I also grow vegetables and fruit. I like to go to specialist nurseries and when I see something new that I like, find room to fit it. Many of the plants have special associations from where I bought them or people that gave them to me."

Owner: Julia Jarman


Canterbury Primary School

"The garden is a hard-surfaced courtyard area consisting of six raised beds, which had previously been used as part of an art project but had been left untended. It was the mission of the Green Scheme environmental after-school club to create sustainable gardens using as many recycled products as possible.

"The children worked really hard clearing, preparing, theming each bed, researching suitable plants and planting. The Caterpillar and Peter Rabbit beds have vegetables, the Butterfly garden boasts an array of colour and perfume to attract butterflies and bees, the Scarecrow Patch is host to a selection of fruits, plants in the Sensory garden were chosen to encourage the children to explore with their five senses and an original rose bush is the feature of the Rose Garden.

"An area of Astro turf is used for stories and activities and a family of blue tits in the bird house has created much excitement."

Janet Tong

Pickhurst Infant School, West Wickham

"A gardening club runs twice a week at lunchtime and we have different gardening areas around the grounds. These include an allotment area, raised beds for produce, our chickens, an outdoor reading area, a recycled garden, two polytunnels, a greenhouse, a wildlife area and our Forest School site adjacent to a meadow area.

"We have wormeries where the children recycle their food waste, plus water butts and composting bins. We run internal competitions such as funky flowerpot and scarecrows.

"We aim to be self-funding as much as possible by selling eggs, fruit, vegetables and hanging baskets. We decided to share our experience of the benefits of outdoor learning with other schools through courses we started this year."

Allison Millis

Wellesley House School, Broadstairs

"An idyllic wildlife garden with a pond, planted by the children with donated plants, has transformed an unused space and is used to help the study of Biology; in particular, seeds, germination, plant studies and natural habitats.

"A new project is the veg box started by maths teacher Max Jones where children can grow produce in small beds with an aim for the children to become actively responsible for the patch. The vegetable garden is situated not far from the main school buildings, close to the school orchard and beehives; a lovely place to spend the afternoon and creates a real feel of the home veg patch.

"The cookery club will be delighted to work with the freshest vegetables and we are keen that the young gardeners themselves will be able to savour the crunch of a freshly dug carrot."

Michelle Humphrys

Winners will be revealed next month.

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