THE owners of the best gardens, allotments and floral displays have been awarded for their green-fingered efforts.

Judges of the Beautiful Durham competition looked at dozens of entries to this year’s event, which us aimed at encouraging impressive floral displays and environmental achievements.

The overall winner was Valerie Crago, from Sherburn Village, while the best group horticultural project was Gilesgate Primary School, in Durham, which looks after its own allotment.

Other winners included Finchale Abbey Village, in Brasside, Shincliffe, High Shincliffe and Sherburn Village.

The competition is run by Durham County Council, which also coordinates Durham’s entry to Britain in Bloom, in which the city recently won gold and was named as the best small city in the country.

Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of direct services, said: “The Beautiful Durham competition is a fantastic way for green fingered Durham residents to showcase their skills. Well done to everyone who took part.”

Beautiful Durham is free to enter and open to residents, schools and organisations in Durham city and the surrounding villages.

The council also offers funding for volunteer community groups working on horticultural projects.

Grants of up to £500 are available to community projects for things like looking after and improving woodlands, local parks and allotments.

Among those to get funding last year was West Rainton and Leamside Partnership who used funding to replant the church footpath area with bulbs.

Mr Sherratt added: “The reason this scheme is so popular is the level of buy-in from community groups who clearly care about their local areas and want to improve them.

“Even small initiatives such as small-scale planting schemes can make a big difference to communities, so I would urge anyone to apply, no matter what size the project is.”

Applications must be made by Friday, December 10 and can be submitted by emailing