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TWO county women have gained top gardener status after their gardens won first prizes in Hereford in Bloom's best gardens competition sponsored by Radway Bridge Garden Centre each winning a £100 voucher.

Mrs Christina Saville of Morland Avenue, Hereford took the best city garden award and the prize for the best country garden went to Mrs Jane Priestman of Stretton Court Farm, Stretton Grandison.

Mrs Saville started creating her garden when she retired eight years ago from her role as a residential home manager using cottage garden style planting as her theme. But it combines much more than pretty flowers and shrubs with a gold fish pond at its centre, a row of brick archways, lots of herbs, a veg patch and even a chicken house at the bottom of the garden. Ferns and tree stumps as wooden sculptures are a novel design feature.

Mrs Priestman, a former head mistress of a girls school and her husband Don, who worked in 46 different countries in his career as an energy consultant, moved into their former farmhouse 15 years ago. Mrs Priestman devoted the early years to creating her vision of a perfect garden in a one acre empty space. She plants only perennials which gives her all year round colour in the formal garden in front of the house. A well stocked vegetable garden is an added bonus. As a Trustee of Headway, the Credenhill based charity supporting people with head and brain injuries, she makes good use of her delightful garden to stage outdoor music concerts to raise funds for the charity.

Kevin Knipe, chairman of Hereford in Bloom, said: "The judges had a difficult task choosing the winners but with the support of Radway Bridge Garden Centre we want to encourage yet more families to create colourful gardens to improve the environment."