Amlwch Gardeners Runners Up in National Competition
by Lindsay Swan
The Amlwch Community Gardening Club is one of the runners up in the Gardening Against The Odds Awards, a national programme organised by The Conservation Foundation and The Sunday Telegraph.
A celebrity judging panel picked the club from a strong field of entries from all over the UK for the achievement of volunteers from Age Well who transformed the rubble-strewn yard of the Memorial Hall, in Amlwch on Anglesey into a community garden, despite their age and health problems.
The Gardening Against The Odds awards, in their second year, are dedicated to Sunday Telegraph writer Elspeth Thompson, who died in March 2010, and are named after her final online diary.
A champion of the unsung gardening heroes to be found all over the country, Elspeth saw beauty in the unexpected and her weekly columns inspired a huge following.
Individual gardeners and community groups who garden despite physical difficulties or in the face of mental or psychological problems, such as depression and grief and those who have transformed inhospitable corners into green havens were all encouraged to enter.
Relatives, friends, neighbours and passers-by were also urged to nominate those who deserve recognition but may hesitate to put themselves forward.
Joining the celebrity judging panel this year were The Duchess of Northumberland, creator of the world famous Alnwick Garden and author and Sunday Telegraph columnist Francine Raymond.
The other judges are botanist David Bellamy, Elspeth Thompson, Sunday Telegraph editor, Anne Cuthbertson, garden writer and designer Bunny Guinness, actress Susan Hampshire, Guerrilla Gardening's Richard Reynolds, Green & Black's founder Craig Sams, Conservation Foundation director David Shreeve, Elspeth's husband Frank Wilson and Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum.
Over the past two years, the garden has been a source of support to members suffering
the loss of loved ones, and a tribute to those who have died, including the first grandchild of organisers Barry and Janet Tetlow, who was
All have discovered the joy of gardening and planted seeds of solace and comfort, though Janet is hoping for some younger gardeners to help shoulder ongoing plans.
From the concrete, bricks and waist-high weeds, rose gardens have bloomed, a fern-edged pond has become home to local wildlife, productive vegetable plots have produced lunches or been bartered with other groups in the area, and members have overcome the debilitating features of ageing.
Individual gardeners have battled the symptoms of cancer to produce beautiful woodwork, and the depression and memory loss following a heart attack to weed dig, mow and plant, resulting not only in a venue for young and old, but in a new community spirit among all those who use the Memorial Hall.
The Amlwch gardeners really do garden against the odds and what they have achieved is inspirational,says Conservation Foundation Director David Shreeve.
Says Sunday Telegraph Life editor Anne Cuthbertson. "The entries we received last year were so inspiring; they were stories that made your heart sing.
The awards have been the most fitting tribute to our dear and much-missed colleague Elspeth Thompson. They continue Elspeth's championing of ordinary gardeners who create something beautiful and honest under challenging circumstances."
The winning gardeners, two runners up and seven Highly Commended gardeners will be honoured at a celebration to be held in the Great Conservatory of Syon House in London next March.
The Gardening against the Odds Awards are supported by the Tanner Trust.Photo by Brian Law, Leics, UK
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