It is so heartening to see the level of enthusiasm towards improving the community as shown by this year’s Park Area in Bloom competition. From the east of the city, this gardening challenge has boasted three city winners and more entries into the local heat than anywhere else in Hull.

Take the winner of the best front garden competition. John Parks clearly shows a passion for his hobby and he was encouraged to enter Park Area in Bloom a few years ago, spurred on by his late mum Gwen, who saw him win the local competition for the last three years but not be crowned city champion in 2010. The retired joiner has invested tremendous effort into planting displays and hanging baskets, and has even managed to harvest a crop of grapes in his back garden on Springdale Close. It was the sign that tickled me above his front door….”The weeds were winning until I started gardening”!

I started my involvement with the Bloom competition in 2004 as part the work with the Preston Road Neighbourhood Development Company. We had a handful of entries. We then started running Park Area heats with the Council. Now the campaign is organised by EMS Yorkshire, a social enterprise running neighbourhood management, with the support of Gateway, Hull City Council’s neighbourhood regeneration programme.

Admittedly, many of the entrants are retired but there is hope in the younger generation with keen input from Estcourt, Marfleet and Gillshill Schools. At EMS, we did recognise that some people would not wish to put themselves through the daunting process of Hull in Bloom, so we devised the Doorstep Challenge. It was a simple competition to challenge people to improve their front gardens, with the incentive of a free hanging basket to start them off, and a carrot of £100 in Morrisons vouchers for the winner.

Here, we came across great enthusiasm, and a younger breed of entrant, including pupils from Southcoates School. The winner, Diane Dabdoub, was keen on maintaining her rather large garden in Pembroke Grove until some roses, an heirloom from her grandmother, were removed by accident in a garden tidy-up project. She lost heart and only started making the effort again when the Council sent warning letters about the state of her garden. She won the EMS Yorkshire Doorstep Challenge competition in 2010, and now basks in the positive feedback from passersby for the big improvements she had enjoyed making.

We celebrate the Park Area’s achievements in 2010 with a ceremony this coming week, due to be attended by more than 90 people, in an area not renowned for its affluence, but is now gaining an increasing reputation for green-fingered enthusiasm.

Jan Boyd, Chief Executive of EMS Yorkshire, a charity and social enterprise which runs neighbourhood management and community safety initiatives in the Park Area of Hull. Tel: 01482 709810


Keen gardener John Parks has his late mum to thank for encouraging him to enter a gardening competition which has seen him win a Hull in Bloom title for the first time.

A retired joiner, Mr Parks (67) of Springdale Close, Preston Road Estate, picked up the title of Best Front Garden in the city-wide competition after three consecutive years of winning the award in the Park Area in Bloom challenge. The judges said: “As soon as you enter the Close, you know which garden has entered Hull in Bloom as the front garden is full of colour, with a very patriotic St George’s flag floral display.”Mr Parks was encouraged by his mum Gwen, who died last year at the age of 84.

He says: “I’ve been doing the garden for about seven years and my mum urged me to enter the Preston Road competition as she thought I’d win. One of the community wardens also encouraged me so I did and have won it for three years running. I was shocked to win the Hull title this year. My mum would have been so proud. We liked to have our breakfast and dinner in the garden, which is full of hanging baskets and a mix of everything from roses to gladioli. The St George’s flag display was full of begonias.”

Green-fingered Margaret Cundill of Westerdale Grove received the city award for Best Basket/Container. The judges said: “A wonderful sight greets you as you walk into the garden, with a variety of baskets full of colour.”

Meanwhile, Denis Shaw from Arthur Lucan Court picked up the title of Best Senior Citizen’s Garden, with the following endorsement from the judges: “Again Denis has produced eye-catching, well-maintained displays. His enthusiasm is shown in the care of the garden.”

Ken Cromack from St John’s Grove, a previous winner who launched the competition in East Hull earlier this year, was given two highly commended accolades, one for Best Full Garden and the other for Contribution to Wildlife.
The competition in the Park Area was run by the environmental charity EMS Yorkshire in conjunction with Gateway, Hull City Council’s neighbourhood regeneration programme. The winners from Park Area progressed to the city competition, and they received their awards at a ceremony at Hull Guildhall. A separate awards evening, for winners of the Park Area in Bloom competition, will take place at the Freedom Centre, Preston Road, on Wednesday 13 October. Jan Boyd, Chief Executive of EMS Yorkshire, says: “There’s a great spirit among residents in Park Area to take part and it’s so good to see that we had the most entries in the city competition once again. We’ll look forward to celebrating all of our entrants at the awards night in October.”