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THE call to tell Bruce and Maureen Heath that they had won top prize in the Examiner of the Year competition interrupted a family tea.

They were flabbergasted, then delighted. We are over the moon, said Bruce, a semi-retired accountant.

The couple received the Examiner Garden of the Year trophy, a s500 cash prize donated by the Examiner, Armitages Garden Centres vouchers worth s100 and a gardening book from Waterstones.

Family comes first for this modest couple, but the glorious garden they have created on a steeply sloping site at Almondbury surely comes a close second.

We are in the garden every day and if it rains, Im in the greenhouse, said Maureen.

The Heaths downsized when they moved from Lindley to their present home 10 years ago.

Their daughter, Deborah and son, Michael had moved on, creating their own lives.

Now all the family, including grandsons George, 14, Hamish, eight, and Monty, six, can enjoy this idyllic garden with the boys already showing interest in being the familys next generation of gardeners.

When we got engaged, we gardened up at Bruces mums, said Maureen. We were saving up to get married.

I used to help my dad in his garden and Bruce helped his grandad.

Gardening is clearly in the genes of this talented couple.

Their spectacular garden is not only beautiful, it is hugely productive.

The third of an acre garden has been transformed by the Heaths who have cleverly used the tree-lined environment to blend their garden with the wider landscape beyond.

They are keen wine-makers and grow vines with great success. But Maureen also picked 10 pounds of cherries at the weekend and there are figs, apples, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries, gooseberries, red currants, rhubarb and virtually every other kind of fruit you could wish for.

In the vegetable garden, the story is the same. It is immaculate, healthy and highly productive.

I do the flowers and Bruce does the vegetables and builds all the structures, said Maureen.

When a crop finishes, something else goes in its place.

That means everything from beans, dwarf, runner and broad, peas, sweet corn, Jerusalem artichokes, horse radish, turnips, swede, leeks, salad crops including beetroot, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs. Theres even gingko biloba. And thats only whats obvious at first glance.

Hens help keep down the slug population and water butts and compost bins prove this gardens environmental credentials.

This healthy regime shines everywhere from the sweeping lavender border which wraps itself around the side of the house to the showstopping garden which lies beyond.

There are spectacular delphiniums, verbascum, showy hostas, white wisteria, roses, penstemons and the heavy fragrance of lilies on the air.

The diverse range of perennials is backed by choice specimen plants and the whole is underplanted with drifts of spring bulbs.

This is a garden for all moods and all seasons and who wouldnt want to escape to Maureens greenhouse on a rainy day where she lovingly tends an alpine bed as Bruce heads for the veg in the neighbouring glasshouse.

A garden to enjoy and in which to linger.

That was certainly the view of William Armitage from competition sponsors Armitages Garden Centres.

You dont just wander around the garden, you explore it. Theres something interesting happening everywhere. Its attractive, productive and very tranquil.

Graham Porter, the Examiners gardening writer and one of the competition judges said:Despite the rigours of two extremely bad winters and the driest spring in living memory, the standard of this years competition has been extremely high.

It has been good to have so many new gardens entered in this years competition and to see in gardens which we have seen before that the process of garden evolution is alive and well as people have developed and progressed their gardens.