Our green fingered customers look forward to the annual garden competition, but because of Coronavirus, this year we had to do things differently to keep the competition going.

Amanda Taylor, personal secretary at Magna, organised the Magna garden competition and was one of the judges. She said: ‘We launched the competition before the Coronavirus outbreak, and when lockdown came it seemed like we would have to cancel. But we know how important gardens are and how much extra time our customers would be spending in them, so we knew we needed to continue the competition somehow.’

For many people, gardening is an important part of their wellbeing. The RHS recently commissioned a survey that revealed 7 out of 10 people consider that having a garden has helped mental health during lockdown with everyday activities such as weeding, mowing and watering cited as having a positive impact.

So, fully embracing technology, we held the competition virtually and to our surprise and delight, we received the most entries we have ever had for our garden competition!

We asked entrants to show us around their gardens using whatever video calling platforms they were comfortable with. With over 60 entries across six categories, our judges were virtually walked around our customers gardens.

Amanda added: “It was such a pleasure to be shown around so many of our customers’ beautiful gardens. Their passion for gardening really came through as they explained what we were looking at in each one.’

After much Zooming, WhatsApping, Facetiming and deliberation, our judges came to their decisions for the best patios and containers, sustainable, small and large gardens, children’s category and the tallest sunflower.

Patios and containers:

1 Paul Pearson, Minehead

2 Fred Dale, Alcombe

3 Mandy Smith, Kilve

Sustainable/wildlife:

1 David & Hannah Marsh, Maiden Newton

2 Helen Chant, Beaminster

3 Richard Middleton, Bradpole

Small garden:

1 Dutch de Vries, Stogursey

Joint 2 Teresa Edwards, Weymouth

Joint 2 Peter Hayward, Bridport

Joint 3 Gillian Hurley, Minehead

Joint 3 Maggie Benford, Bradpole

Large garden:

1 Sadie Lenton, Chickerell

2 Tamara Partridge-Bough, Sherborne

3 Amanda Seacombe, Alcombe

Childrens:

1 Morgan White, Yeovil

Joint 2 Jayden Ely, Porlock

Joint 2 Louie Ely, Porlock

Joint 3 Lily Rose Brimble, Dorchester

Joint 3 Emmy-rae Hopwood, Williton

Tallest sunflower:

Reggie & Bertie Pile, Burton Bradstock

Special Prize:

Fruit & Veg garden - Rosemary Cieciora, Beaminster

Well done to the lucky winners and thanks to all our entrants for their hard work.

Neil Bliss, resident and community engagement officer, said: ‘I’m so pleased our customers embraced technology to enable us to continue with this competition. Myself and my fellow judges found it a great way of looking around your amazing gardens whilst remaining safe and following government guidelines. This has shown us that there are lots of ways we can improve what we do by making the most of the technology we have available to us all.’