By Joan Aarvold, Show Judge
It has been my pleasure and privilege to award prizes for this year’s unusual, COVID-19 constrained show. All the entries show a horticultural passion which gladdens the heart! During these difficult times, allotments have been immensely therapeutic and perfect places to improve our mental and physical selves. Here's my brief synopsis of all the submissions entered under the different categories.
Class 1 - Allotmenteering in lockdown
This class was very well supported. The lockdown offered different challenges and opportunities and so many gardeners seized them all. There are clearly some very good photographers out there too! Choosing one winner was hard; therefore we have two winners and a runner up in this class.
Joint first prize - plot 85a/b. An account of a new plotter’s experiences with pictures to support the hard labour and subsequent rewards over several months. (£10 voucher)
Joint first prize - plot 20a. A water-colour artist at work with beautiful photos of six different flowers. Allotments aren’t just places to grow things! (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 124. A lovely sitting area next to herb bed, with gorgeous colourful, flowers bordering newly laid paving. (£5 voucher)
Special mention - plot 25a. A beautiful, evocative photo of sun setting over the allotments. Captures so much of what is on offer!
Class 2 - Strangest shaped produce
First prize - plot 25a. A very red walking carrot. (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 26a/27b. A six-legged carrot. (£5 voucher)
Class 4 - Childrens' drawing of a favourite fruit or vegetable
First prize - plot 26a/27b. A plump pear drawing - good enough to eat! (£10 voucher)
Class 5 - Garden in a cup or plant pot
First prize - plot 124. A rather magnificent house leek in an old metal teapot. (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 28. An autumn crocus display in a plant pot (£5 voucher)
Class 6 - Best vegetable display
Lots of entries here, all displaying excellent produce. Squashes are definitely the most photographed vegetable this year.
First prize - plot 26a/27b. Ten different veggies displayed in a very professional, artistic way. (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 29b. Two beautiful sweet corn cobs - Waitrose eat your heart out! (£5 voucher)
Special mentions - plot 112/113 for a very apt rainbow display (NHS and care symbol) and the West Jesmond Primary School plots for an excellent range of vegetables and flowers.
Class 7 - Best fruit display
Great to see so many entries displaying marvelous fruity produce.
First prize - West Jesmond Primary School plots. 15 perfectly matching cherry red tomatoes sitting in the sunshine. (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 84a. An abundance of very plump redcurrants (£5 voucher)
Special mentions - plot 84b for a photo of over 20 jars of jams and chutneys, and plot 22a/b for a photo showing ten little raspberries sitting on a wall... great fun!
Class 8 - Best flower display
Again a popular category. Lovely to have such wonderful floral colours and varieties. Sweet peas have been excellent this year!
First prize - plot 112/113. Masses of splendid, mixed sweet peas. (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 97. Beautiful photo of three fabulous, pink dahlias in situ (£5 voucher)
Class 9 - Wildlife on the allotments
A popular category, with hedgehogs (or maybe it’s the same one?!) appearing in several entries.
First prize - plot 85a/b. A wonderful photo of white-tailed bumble bee feeding on a Verbena flower. (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 25a. A cute video of hedgehog eating cat food. (£5 voucher)
Special mention - plot 20a. A pigeon on Bob’s hat. Not sure who is more surprised! He could have a future here, drawing the pesky creatures away from all brassicas...
Class 10 - Most unusual produce
Some very exotic looking entries here. Great to know that folk can grow vegetables we normally associate with ‘abroad’, right here in the north east.
First prize - plot 16b. A very shiny, handsome black pepper (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 97. Some very healthy looking asparagus peas (£5 voucher)
Class 11 - Best 'How to' Guide
First prize - plot 112/113. When space is at a premium; use your bath for seedlings! (£10 voucher)
Runner up - plot 84a. A budding gardener here, clearly! The baby’s giggling is totally infectious and uplifting as well. (£5 voucher)
I have also chosen the two entries, from plots with and without a greenhouse, for two additional prizes.
Plot 20a for eight photos taken over seven months. Great dedication to getting on with the jobs and producing excellent results. Wins a wooden planter with perspex cover, kindly built and donated by Colin.
Plot 59a for a video of a very tidy, productive and tranquil plot with a lovely greenhouse. Wins a £10 voucher.
Thank you for all your entries in what has been a strange growing year. I hope you can keep enjoying the allotments in a safe way for as long as the weather holds.