The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has led to Britain identifying a new wave of gardening enthusiasts who have used their green spaces as a form of self-care and escapism.  

After over 1,500 entries; the B&Q Gardener of the Year competition has revealed its winners, with Tim Shelley, a community garden project leader from Hereford and his team, landing the B&Q Community Garden of the Year award and with it £2,500 B&Q gift card in prize money. 

Shelley, 52, and his team of volunteers have been recognised for helping to assemble a community garden that has brought Ross-on-Wye together. 

The competition, which launched in April this year was created to democratise gardening and celebrate outdoor spaces which have been created by the community, for the community. The criteria was to showcase a community garden that aims to improve the life and wellbeing of those in the surrounding area.

"It is shared by people within our local community, for our local community," said Shelley. 

"It involves everyone, we are here to support people who may need a little bit of help, and we are hoping that horticulture can be therapeutic. 

"We want it to be a space where friendships can be nurtured, and people can try and make new connections. 

"Particularly in today's society, people are isolated, so if we can help people and encourage them to reach out, meet people, do something, give something back, connect with nature and the wider world, I think it will be really good for our wellbeing and mindfulness." 

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The competition judges were made up of GBBO judge and gardening enthusiast Dame Prue Leith, B&Q Outdoor Category Director Steve Guy, and award-winning garden designers Matt Childs and Humaira Ikram.

Shelley added: "The response was a little slow at first, I think it was a bit of a new thing to most people, but I think over the last few years, and particularly during Covid-19, we have reached a lot more people. 

"Word is getting out, so for example, in the first year we had 30 children visit us through schools, but this year we are expecting 700. 

"So it is gradually growing, and then in the last five years, it has grown a lot."

Prue Leith, judge of B&Q Gardener of the Year said: "It was lovely to see all the beautiful gardens that entered for this year's competition. No matter the size or shape, there were some incredible spaces submitted that made it exceptionally hard to pick between. As you know, I'm a tough judge to impress."

Steve Guy, B&Q Outdoor Category Director said: "This is our second year of B&Q Gardener of the Year, and we again couldn't believe the quality of entries coming through. Each entry demonstrated the British passion for gardening!"