DARLINGTON’S finest gardeners have been recognised for their efforts at an awards ceremony.

The Darlington in Bloom awards celebrated the work of horticulturalists from across the borough, regardless of the size or location of their garden.

Among the categories of awards were rural or town garden and backyards, pubs, allotments and community plots.

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The Richardson Rosebowl for best overall garden went to Malcolm Short, of Middleton St George – the fourth time he has won the title.

Mr Short’s garden, which he tends with his wife, Anne, was said by the judges to have particularly fulfilled the ‘in bloom’ part of the competition.

They added: “The garden continues to show high standards of horticulture and imagination.”

Mr Short said: “Through the summer I can do up to six hours a day in the garden if I’m not doing other things. At this time of the year it’s about three hours – we are forever clearing up, rearranging things and planning for next year.

“It was a mess when we moved in. I’ve been doing it for 44 years.”

The awards are run by a team of volunteers, working in conjunction with Darlington Borough Council’s StreetScene team, with the awards ceremony hosted by Brian Graham, the council’s head of environmental services.

Mr Graham told the ceremony that cuts in the council’s budget for floral displays meant it was more important than ever that people cared for their gardens and helped to improve the town’s open spaces.

Judge Allannah Robinson said the good summer weather had helped to create some beautiful gardens.

She said: “There was a very good standard. The numbers are up this year and hopefully we can continue next year – there were some very interesting gardens and I would like to see them change and grow, as well as welcoming new entrants.”

Pictures of each of the gardens will be featured in a free display at the Cornmill Centre, which will start on Monday, October 7, for one week.

The full list of winners

Darlington town garden winner – Darlington Borough Council Shield – Mr J Cory

Darlington town garden runner-up – Mr K Graham

Darlington backyard winner – Darlington Borough Council Shield – Ms E Howitt

Darlington tenant – Darlington Borough Council Tenants Shield – Mrs C Henderson

Darlington tenant runner-up – Mrs I Dybal

Darlington tenant tub/basket – Mr T Chantry

Darlington newcomer – Smyth Cup – Mr J Brice

Middleton St George town garden winner – Mayor’s Charity Cup – Mr M Walker

Middleton St George town garden runner-up – Mr & Mrs K Porter

Middleton St George rural garden winner – Nancy Hutchinson Cup – Mr M Short

Merrybent/Heighington/Coniscliffe winner – Dorothy Dent Cup – Mr D Thompson

Sadberge – Cuthbertson Cup – Mrs S Headon

Pub winner – Mr J Gordon, the Tawny Owl

Community winner – Darlington Soroptimists – Skerne Studios, Mr I Dougall

Community runner-up – Rockliffe Court, Ms J Hulme

Darlington Making a Difference in the Community – Terry Robinson Cup – Mr T Chantry

Allotment best plot – Crystal Rose Bowl – Hummersknott, Mr P Harrison

Allotment runner-up – Smithfield, Ms E Downs

Best overall – Richardson Rose Bowl – Mr M Short