Derry gardener, John Colhoun, was blooming with success after winning the Clanmil In Bloom title.
Mr Colhoun, who lives at Somme Park near Altnagelvin, scooped the prize – awarded by Clanmil Housing Group – for his and the rest of his six-strong gardening team’s work on the housing scheme’s garden.
The annual Clanmil in Bloom competition highlights the hard work that goes into making the gardens at Clanmil housing schemes look pristine.
It recognises people who take a keen interest in keeping the green spaces around their homes looking the very best they can and gives green-fingered tenants a chance to showcase their handiwork.
Mr Colhoun, a tenant at Somme Park, was presented with his award by Paul Fiddaman, Chair of Clanmil Housing, at a special celebration at The Clayton Hotel in Belfast.
John is one of a team of six keen gardeners who tend the Somme Park site. He described accepting the award on their behalf as “a great privilege.”
He said: “We love watching Monty Don on Gardener’s World and the Chelsea Flower Show to get tips and ideas – like planting strips of wildflowers instead of having all grass. Our fuchsia is doing very well this year.”
As well as growing flowers at Somme Park, the gardeners have also created raised beds where they grow vegetables and have created pathways to make them wheelchair accessible for other tenants.
John added: “We have peas, potatoes, gooseberries, red currants, courgettes and peppers.”
“We even had a vine growing, but the wee birds and robins ate all the grapes.”
John, who used to be a beekeeper, has always had an interest in gardening. He described how important getting out into the garden was to him during the lockdown.
He continued: “I find gardening very therapeutic, and it is a social thing too. The lockdown was a real hard time, and it was important to get to know your neighbours and check in with them to see if they were OK.
“At Somme Park everyone looks out for each other, and we all have a bit of craic now in the common room.”
Claire Darby, Senior Engagement Officer said, “People who live in Clanmil homes love spending time in their gardens and many people across our schemes have spent a lot of time during lockdown in their outside spaces.
“The Clanmil in Bloom awards event allows us to celebrate all their achievements and to recognise the great work they have done towards creating that special outdoor place.”
Clare McCarty, Group Chief Executive at Clanmil, added: “Credit is due to all the participants, the judges and to Greentown Environmental – our grounds maintenance contractors – who helped sponsor the competition.
“The pride and passion that Clanmil people have for their homes and neighbourhoods is clear to see.
“Congratulations to everyone who took part, and especially to all the winners.”