The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded my garden the blue ribbon in the 2015 Garden and Greening Contest!! I was selected from over 250 entries this year in three states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. This contest invites backyard gardeners, community gardeners, and anyone passionate about greening our public spaces to enter. I am grateful to my friend, Pat, who persuaded me to submit an application. A few years ago Pat, along with her Women's Club, received an award for a local community flower garden they maintain. She visits my garden often, and one day last spring, she arrived with literature from the Horticultural Society, assuring me my garden was worthy -- I guess only the gardener sees the warts. I submitted the application online by the deadline in June. Of course, I hoped for some recognition, but never dreamed of attaining the blue ribbon.
I filled out a simple form having determined which category I should enter: Combination Garden- Any size garden with both vegetables and flowers where both have significant impact. I wrote a brief narrative and submitted some photographs. This is what I wrote:
My gardens are ten years in the making and continue to evolve. Born and raised in England, I am trying to create an English cottage garden in the Poconos, facing such challenges as rocky ground, numerous deer and a short growing season. I designed five distinct areas: a pond surrounded by cottage garden borders, a shade-garden retreat, a container garden, a Woodland Walk, and a kitchen garden with a unique potting shed. I grow a wide variety of perennials, annuals, shrubs and vegetables. My many native plants attract pollinators in this certified wildlife habitat and pollinator friendly garden. I practice sustainable gardening: making compost and collecting rainwater in five water barrels. I am a Penn State master gardener volunteer who retired to indulge my gardening passion.
The judge (and his sister) arrived in the middle of August. My garden was passed peak, but when we learned the judging date, H.H. and I tidied the beds, added new mulch, refreshed the containers with new plants, cleaned up the fish pond and did whatever else was necessary to make the gardens sparkle inspite of the heat and lack of blooms.
It was a long wait until I heard from the Society a few days ago. I received a beautiful letter and a certificate. The letter says they will honor my accomplishments at a reception hosted at PHS in Philadelphia in December. I may bring one guest to the reception. Of course, my guest must be the wonderful Undergardener, H.H., who does so much of the grunt work. One tiny disappointment: the PHS sometimes holds the reception at the Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg, but not this year. I don't know if this is because our governor is not living there in his attempt to save taxpayers' money.
Photographs of the winning gardens will be shown at the reception. (The photographs in this posting are some of my favorites taken spring through fall this year. They are in no particular order.) In addition to a certificate they will present me with two tickets to the 2016 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show to be held next March.
At a meeting of my master gardener group last night, I shared this information in the hope of encouraging some of them to enter in future. Individual gardeners may enter in-ground gardens or gardens grown exclusively in containers. Community gardeners may enter vegetable and flower gardens, garden blocks and public-space plantings and parks. I hope some of my blogger friends in the three state area will consider entering this contest, too.
It was a wonderful year in my garden, and my blue ribbon award is the icing on the cake!
Happy Gardening, dear friends,
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