A gardener from Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire has been recognised nationally for her green-fingered efforts during lockdown and has won a prestigious competition.     

Jane Clark collected the prize for Best Eco-friendly Garden in the B&Q Gardener of the Year awards due to her commitment to providing a sanctuary for all kinds of wildlife in her home in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire and won £1,000 from B&Q after beating off thousands of entries.  

While the country starts to lift lockdown restrictions, many of the nation come out of it with a newfound passion for gardening.  

Around 80 percent of Brits have become more interested in tending to their window boxes, patios, balconies, and green spaces in the last year, and thanks to B&Q’s Gardener of the Year competition, many have been able to show off their newfound skills.  

B&Q has been joined by comedian Jim Moir on a mission to showcase the ‘real’ gardens of the UK, with the winner of the competition taking home £10,000.  

Ealing Times: Clark's eco-friendly garden was rewarded with prestigious B&Q national recognitionClark's eco-friendly garden was rewarded with prestigious B&Q national recognition

Clark, 61, said: “I grow everything - you name it, I'm growing it!  

“I like to grow stuff that the bees and the insects can access. I just noticed when I moved here, there were not any butterflies, very little insect life, the pond had been filled in. 

“I get everything, including deer. I have noticed since I have been developing the garden, more and more wildlife is coming in.  

“I really don't have a slug problem either because I have lovely frogs jumping around. I just try and be as friendly to the wildlife as possible, even though they eat everything that I plant!” 

Clark, who has recently retired from British Airways as cabin crew, was influenced to start gardening by her late father, James. From her travels, Clark was able to collect seeds from all over the world to add to her wildlife paradise, and the extra time provided by lockdown put her green fingers to the test. 

“When I went abroad, I used to go to gardens all over,” Clark added. 

“I think I just find that gardens are a bit of a sanctuary for me away from the hubbub and business. I cannot help it - I sow seeds and I cannot stop!  

“I just love it and find I'm always a bit amazed that you can get a flower out of it. It is very rewarding and it feeds me.  

“I've got stuff that I've bought in the USA, and I have flowers that I'd got the seeds from LA and they're still growing.  

“That was the great thing about flying because you could shop for seeds and add it to the garden from all over!  

Ealing Times: Evergreen Clark, 61, collected seeds from all over the world as part of her British Airways travels to add to her wildlife paradiseEvergreen Clark, 61, collected seeds from all over the world as part of her British Airways travels to add to her wildlife paradise

“In Japan, they're really into their gardens and all the blossom that comes out in the temples – it's beautiful. When the blossom's out, it is stunningly beautiful and I found that so inspiring for my garden.” 

Gardening has certainly been a refuge for many people who have struggled with the lockdown in the past year, and the competition comes as a relief to gardening enthusiasts who have missed out on the likes of the Chelsea Flower Show.  

Joining Moir on the judges panel were award-winning garden designers, Matt Childs and Humaira Ikram, and B&Q Outdoor Category Director Steve Guy.  

Guy said: “At B&Q, our mission is to cater for each of our customers individually by providing them with a great range of quality plants, enabling them to create amazing outside spaces. In launching the B&Q Gardener of the year competition, we sought to celebrate gardens of all shapes and sizes which is seen with all of our winners.” 

Brits have taken inspiration for their gardens from many different places. 37% turned to gardening centres like B&Q for advice, while 27% asked their parents and 26% checking social media platforms as more young people tried their hand at gardening.  

B&Q threw the rule book out the window when it came to what makes a garden ‘best in show’ – as proven by Clark’s wildlife haven.