They have the same first name, live in the same part of Hull and a love of gardening in common, and both now have a clutch of awards for their passions, but one nearly missed the opportunity.
Dennis Appleby, 66, has been able to devote a lot more time in his first full year of retirement in his triangular–shaped garden at home in Uxbridge Grove but can boast probably one of the biggest hanging baskets anywhere. His one-metre diameter construction in the front garden was specially made by a welder friend, but was one of 17 hanging baskets to adorn the property this summer. However, with a surplus of plants, for the second year running he donated two for use at the entrance to Oldfleet Primary School, and made a further 20 to practically give away to neighbours.
He says: “I could have started a business doing this, putting the baskets out on a clothes rail outside. I love gardening and have 11 water features, as well as bizarre artefacts to put containers on. Despite all this, I didn’t think until last year that I could enter Park Area in Bloom because I didn’t have any lawn. People passed the house and urged me to put in for it, so I rang EMS and they sent me the paperwork. I don’t know what happened this year as I left it late to enter. I was then frustrated that I missed the judges when they visited because I’d popped out briefly, they came early and didn’t see the garden at its best, with all the water features on.
Ironically, the former construction site engineer did not grow up with a garden and it was only when he moved into his first matrimonial home on Greatfield that he started developing the greenfingers. “I remember seeing this yellow flower in the corner of the garden and I nurtured it to grow. I later found out it was a mustard seed! I landscaped the garden, had a pond, and really enjoyed it. “ When they moved after 32 years, he tackled the overgrown garden straight away.
This year, Dennis picked up the Park Area and the city’s Containers and Hanging Baskets Award and also took the Innovation and Design prize for the second year. “My ambition now is to win the city’s hanging baskets award twice running as no one’s achieved that yet.”
Dennis Shaw from Arthur Lucan Close has a long history of winning in the Hull in Bloom competition and he again pulled off victory for the OAP Garden. He has also received an extra award in 2011 from his housing association. Longhurst and Havelock Homes have made him a Shining Star. Hull neighbourhood officer Gill Brown nominated him and says: “Shining Stars recognise a resident’s contribution to the community or for an achievement. Dennis has worked very hard on his garden, has over the years helped with gardening on the development, and this award was to say thank you for his positive contributions. I was thrilled to present Dennis with £25 and a certificate.”
These recipients were among many rewarded by Park Area in Bloom organisers, EMS Yorkshire, a local charity that runs environmental and neighbourhood management projects in the Hull area at a ceremony at the Freedom Centre on Preston Road.
John Parkes from Springdale Close again won both the Park Area and Hull in Bloom front garden award, whilst pupils and staff at Gillshill Primary School also picked up area and city titles in the school category, with Marfleet close behind.
EMS Chief Executive Jan Boyd says: “We’ve become very proud of our devout gardeners but I’m particularly thrilled for the schools, doing so well. We’re the best–supported In Bloom area in the city but I’d love to see more people and businesses becoming involved in the 2012 contest and make it an even better year.”
“We hope in the near future to work with residents, community groups, Hull City Council and businesses to develop green and open spaces city-wide. What’s ideal is we have a number of gardening experts in the Park area we can contact for ideas and designs.”