Scothern Best Garden Competition: Encouraging Community Pride

For over 15 years, Scothern’s Best Garden Competition has been integrated into the community as an annual fixture dedicated to improving the appearance of the village and connecting residents.

Jane Johnson, Vice Chairman of Scothern Parish Council, explains how the competition was introduced: “The Council for the Protection of Rural England ran a national Best Village Competition which we took part in, so our Best Garden Competition came about as a result of that as the Parish Council at the time felt it would help the appearance of the village and encourage residents to take pride in their gardens.”

The CPRE competition no longer runs, but Scothern Parish Council felt they wanted to continue with their Best Garden Competition to encourage imagination and cleanliness whilst creating a nice village atmosphere.

The winners are announced and the prizes are presented at Scothern Recreation Centre’s annual Flower and Produce Show which is held in September.

The competition is open to everybody, and you don’t have to do anything to enter. “You can opt out if you wish” Jane explains, “but we will advertise what the categories are around April/May time which always includes a small garden category and a medium/large garden category, with the final category changing each year. This year it is ‘attractive garden that’s favourable to wildlife’.”

Jane continues, “Our judges, who are all volunteers, will go around the village on three occasions during May, June and July. Judges don’t enter anyone’s property, unless invited to do so, so it is just a case of what can be seen from the paths. The judges will go around and make their decisions based on their visits, and we will inform people if they are likely to get a prize so they attend the Flower and Produce Show.”

The competition has regular contributors who ensure their gardens are looking incredible all year round, but the Parish Council are particularly interested in encouraging new people to join in and take pride in their gardens. “The judges base it on the appearance, tidiness, health of the plants and also the environmental impact. As the judges visit three times, it’s about maintaining that appearance throughout the period. Judges aren’t necessarily looking for someone who has the greenest lawn, because we care about how you can maintain your garden in an environmentally friendly way.”

There are First, Second and Third prizes for the small garden and medium/large categories, and a single winner for the special category. Prizes are made possible through sponsorships from local businesses which include Scothern Nurseries Plant Centre, Mark Harris Commercials, Ashwell Joinery and Scothern Parish Council. The Council are always open to other sponsorships and welcome those interested in supporting the competition to get in touch.

Events like the Scothern Best Garden Competition are powerful tools for building communities and creating positive attitudes within the village. We tend to rush from place to place without noticing what is around us, so this competition encourages residents to slow down and appreciate the beauty that is all around and how lucky we are to live here. It also connects residents to each other by encouraging social interactions which are vital, especially for those who are retired, live alone or are out of work, so taking walks around the village to admire the beautiful gardens on offer is a great chance to socialise and form friendships and connections. If you would like to be involved in next year’s competition, keep an eye on Scothern Parish Council’s Facebook page and website at the beginning of the year.