PROUD gardeners have been pruning, watering and weeding ahead of this week’s Oxford in Bloom competition judging.
This week has seen the final days of judging for the floral contest, where gardens, flower boxes, schools and roundabouts have come under scrutiny.
Trish Stevens is one of the panel, having won the contest herself four times during the 1990s.
She said: “We’ve got some really nice entries this year, with some good quality gardens. We haven’t had any bad entries this year.”
The Cowley resident said: “I look for the quality of the plants, if it’s clean and tidy, if there’s any disease on the plants, the arrangement, if it is pleasing to the eye when you walk past it, the colour, the impact it has and so on.
“Some of the flowers were damaged because of the storm on Saturday, so we had to take that into consideration.”
She said there were 59 entries in this year’s competition, adding: “But some gardeners entered more than one category.”
Prizes of £25, £50 and £100 will be awarded to the top three entries in each category, as well as a certificate and trophy.
The 69-year-old said that even the judges themselves do not know who will win, as they do not know the final score tally.
She said: “When we have finished, all the judging sheets go back to the office and they get put into order and then we wait to find out who the winner is at the presentation.
“A computer adds it all up.”
One keen contender is Roy Cox, who has been entering his garden for 15 years, and won gold in 2003 and 2010.
He said: “I have marigolds, fuchsias and petunias. I tried to go for a red, white and blue theme this year. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but this year it’s not bad.”
He said that he felt confident his garden, in Mill Street, would do well, adding: “This year my garden is better than last year, when I won a bronze.
“I’m pleased with it this year, there’s a lot of colour. But who knows what the judges go for.”
The 61-year-old Christchurch College gardener spends an hour every evening on his garden.
His wife Marion said: “He enjoys it, and the garden is beautiful, so I don’t mind it when he spends time out there.”