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Small Gardens

1) Diane Gibson, Paddock

IT HAS been a tough year for Diane Gibson, but her flower packed Paddock garden has helped her through.

I lost my mum earlier this year and it broke my heart, said Diane.

We had to brick up the gap between her garden and mine. At first I didnt want to bother with the garden, but once I got stuck in, all the old happy feelings kicked in and now it has got more flowers than ever.

The garden has helped me through whats been a difficult time.

Id run out of floor space, when I stumbled on some planters that stack so now Im going upwards as well. They stack up to seven feet high so Ive got lots of them all stuffed with Busy Lizzies, antirrhinums, marigolds, mesembryanthemums, lobelia, geraniums, pansies, petunias, in fact everything thats colourful.

Ive used railway sleepers, scaffolding poles, pallets, anything I could get my hands on to build new planters.

Every wall is crammed with containers and hanging baskets spilling out colour from nemesia, mimulus, phlox, giant fuchsias, salvias and helichrysum.

And the whole garden, which sits behind a tiny terraced house, packs a powerful punch in terms of fragrance thanks to towering sweet peas, freesia, French lavender and heady dianthus.

The garden buzzes with vitality and with bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

I saved a lot of seed last year and have been able to grow all kinds of things, said Diane.

Ive got some fruit and veg, mainly tomatoes, strawberries and radishes though I dont like radishes so I give those away.

She gives away a lot more than just plants and veg. Diane encourages and supports all her neighbours who want to get their gardens looking good and theres certainly no missing this flower filled corner of Paddock.

We have had quite a few comings and goings with new neighbours in the street, but weve planted up a few pots for them and hope they will get interested and join in.

Diane works at the post office in Paddock where she dishes out gardening advice with a flower in her hair and a sunny smile. Her son Jack, 18, has just started an apprenticeship and her daughter Laura, 21, is working as a dental nurse.

For Diane, what has kept her spirits up through tough times has been the garden which shines with her warm personality.

2) Mr and Mrs Stephen Knapton, Longwood

ONE of the new gems discovered in this years competition was a stunning hidden garden created by truck driver Stephen Knapton and his wife, Anne.

The couple moved into their Grade 2 listed weavers cottage four years ago. It stands on the roadside in Longwood and initially it is difficult even to see a garden.

Pass through a narrow alleyway and a door opens on to a secluded plot which has been beautifully designed and planted with a mix of cottage garden favourites and more architectural specimens to give height and structure.

Stephen is really into recycling and is always coming home with something to use as a container in the garden, said Anne, who works for Batleys Cash and Carry.

A tin trunk stands in a corner filling the seating area with the scent of lavender and set into a wall, an old stone sink provides a perfect holder for a froth of cream-edged hostas.

The old outside toilet has been converted to a tool store and is about to get a green roof with sedums top of the likely plant list. And the naturalistic pool is awash with water lilies and wild life.

In this idyllic setting with far-reaching views across the Colne Valley, the couple have created a delightful garden brimming with striking plants including ligularia, oriental poppies, echinops ritro, giant knapweed, alliums, hemerocallis, deep blue Veronicas and the soft silver foliage of stachys lanata.

3) Philip Hirst, Waterloo

FOR Philip Hirst and his wife, Anne their waterside garden at Waterloo is a real haven.

Weve lived here for about nine years and we enjoy the garden so much that we find it more and more difficult to leave it, even to go on holiday, said Anne.

When we came here, Philip had to clear some conifers and shrubs to let more light in, said Anne.

Id never really grown anything until we came here, said Philip. Now I grow everything.

Philip, an electrician, has packed the garden with a diverse range of plants including many classic English garden herbaceous plants.

Two types of sambucus, or elderberry, one with fine cut golden leaves, the other with striking purple foliage, provide highlights alongside a variegated maple and the towering spikes of hollyhocks and ligularia.

The vivid blue of Veronica spicata and the bright blooms of dahlias, geums contrast with the more delicate flowers of astrantia, Eupatorium maculatum and the pretty violet blue of the harebell.

A vigorous clematis tangutica with nodding yellow bell shaped flowers and fluffy lime-coloured seed heads is one of a number of climbers which take the flower power up the walls of this well-tended garden.

Philip grows tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other summer vegetables in his greenhouse as well as bringing on his own dahlia plants and many herbaceous perennials.

He makes his own compost, uses water from rain butts and does all he can to encourage wildlife. And it works.

We have foxes, hedgehogs, all kinds of birds and the ducks come into the garden from the beck which runs along the bottom, he said.

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Medium sized gardens

1) Andy Beattie, Kirkheaton

ANDY Beatties beautiful Kirkheaton garden continues to wow with its confident use of colour and meticulous attention to detail.

Admire the latest extension to this already complex and layered garden and Andy admits, hes been redesigning again.

These glass panels came from a supermarket trolley bay which was being refitted, he said.

We spend so much time out here in summer that we decided to extend our seating area and this shatter-proof glass was ideal to provide some cover and to reflect the garden.

And there is much to see. Not surprisingly, Andy, his wife, Doreen and their family, spend many hours in the garden and have hosted a garden party for a local social club this summer.

This highly creative former Post Office worker has turned a long, narrow plot into a seemingly endless series of views which make it easy to linger.

Ponds and carefully placed sitting areas maximise the sounds, sights and smells in the garden. There are hot borders and containers packed with dahlias, poppies, cosmos and alstromeria.

Bamboo and tall, variegated grasses provide movement and sound and Andys favourite lilies fill the air with dizzyingly powerful perfume.

Feathery pink and white astilbes, flag irises, Japanese anemones and hostas with their plumes of mauve flowers add height and elegance around the pool area. And a giant gunera adds drama.

The sound of running water provides a soothing backdrop to pools where water lilies thrive and damsel flies sparkle.

2) Mark Winterbottom, Dalton

YOU dont have to chose between an elegant garden and a place which is ideal for a father and son kick-about.

Mark Winterbottom, who works as a quality manager in Bradford, manages to combine both in the beautiful family garden at Waterloo.

He and his wife, Sarah can enjoy the stylish planting while their son, Matthew, 11, who is doing well with cricket team Almondbury Wesleyans is still able to get in some practice.

It used to be football but now we play more cricket. Matthews a bowler and hes doing really well, said Mark.

We move the stumps every so many balls so that the grass doesnt get too worn.

If you hit the back wall its a six. If you hit the greenhouse, youre out, says Mark, who has taken the precaution of redoing its windows with toughened glass.

In the nine years that the family have lived in the house, which is on a steeply sloping site backing on to woodland, Mark has replanted much of the garden.

He has created a strong structural feel underplanted with hostas, ferns, his favourite grasses and sedges and with alliums making spectacular seed head exclamation marks in the borders.

In spring, the garden comes alive with swathes of crocus, snowdrops, wood anemones, daffodils and fritillaries. And at this time of year, tomatoes, peppers, beetroot, radish and other salad crops are growing well.

Marks passion for gardening is shared by his dad, Rodney who lives nearby and is always happy to swap cuttings and lend advice.

The woodland setting and the gardens planters, feeders and water features encourage birds, insects, bats, squirrels and a fox to visit.

3) Andrew Lindley, Paddock

A JOB change means Andrew Lindley gets to spend more time at home in Paddock but less time in his garden.

Im working from home as a credit controller and though I get to see the garden more, I dont have as much time to work in it as I did when I was managing a pub, he said.

Andrew shares his period home and its garden with Paul Taylor, a talented costume and dress designer and maker.

Together, their creative talents have turned a steep, sloping garden with stunning town views, into a soft, flowing river of foliage and flower.

Terracing creates structure and careful planting has created a tranquil atmosphere. Andrew has used ferns and grasses to add movement and water to encourage bird and insect life.

Though there are drifts of planting in soft pastel shades, there are also colour hot spots which add drama and energy.

The bright red of crocosmia Lucifer and the cerise of lychnis coronaria provide blasts of colour while evening primrose, lilies and thyme all add to the fragrance in this tranquil garden.

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Large gardens

1) Mrs & Mrs Bruce Heath, Almondbury

Click here to read out story on our overall winners

2) Mrs Victoria Berryman, Slaithwaite

VICTORIA Berryman gardens in an idyllic spot set deep in a wooded valley near Slaithwaite.

The home that she and her husband, John, have lived in for more than 30 years, is on the site of the Colne Valleys first water powered mill.

Parts of their listed home date back to the 16th century and the garden that Victoria has created feels as if it too has been there for centuries.

Mrs Berryman retired last year from her career as a landscape architect and is enjoying spending more time in the garden which is a skilled and intuitive extension to the surrounding countryside.

The setting is certainly remarkable but so too is what this knowledgeable plantswoman has done to bring house and landscape seamlessly together.

Bounded by the river, the gardens mature trees have been used as a host for an exuberant rambling rose, Belvedere and as a backdrop for drifts of herbaceous perennials in a soft colour palette.

The planting is diverse with specimen delphiniums vying for attention with a stunning purple clematis, delicate violas and a stand of candelabra primulas.

There is a hazel tunnel which dances with light and a yew hedge through which the spectacular red tropaeolum speciosum bursts into flower living up to its flame thrower name.

An extensive vegetable garden includes an asparagus bed, soft fruit and everything from potatoes and beans to mange tout, courgettes, onions, corn on the cob and chickory.

This is a garden on which to feast the eyes and to acknowledge a gardener with real depth of understanding of the environment in which she works.

3) Mr and Mrs Dean Northrop, Holmfirth
WHEN Dean and Karen Northop took on their garden in Holmfirth, they were up for a challenge.

And gardening at over 750 feet in the Pennine hills on a steep, windy hillside is certainly that.

But together, Dean who is an industrial pipe fitter and Karen, a childminder, have created a real family garden.

The couple have a daughter, Rachael, 17, and a son, Gareth, 20, who is in the army. Karens mum is a keen gardener and has passed on her green-fingered skills.

The garden has stunning views across to Holme Moss on one side and the wind farm on Ogden Moor on the other. It is not an easy place in which to garden but this couple seem to have their environment tamed.

Raised beds are bursting with vegetables including parsnips, swede, onions, carrots, peas, runner beans, sprouts and salad crops. There are also healthy looking crops of strawberries, apples and pears.

When we came here the grass was three feet high. The property had been empty for about 12 months before we moved in, said Karen.

Dean builds all the structures including the tree house, the decked areas, the pergolas and the picnic table. Im left with the planting!

Ninety percent of what we have in the garden we have grown from seeds.

Here are the prizes that this years winners received:

Overall winners Mr and Mrs Bruce Heath were presented with the cut-glass Examiner Garden of the year trophy which they get to keep for a year.

The Heaths also received £500 from the Examiner. They, along with the winners of the other two categories, received £100 to spend at Armitages garden centres.

The gardeners who took second place in the three categories, each received Armitages vouchers worth £75 and those placed third each won vouchers worth £50.

Each of the nine winners also gets, a book, the RHS Plants for Places 2011 courtesy of the competitions long time sponsors, Waterstones.