Best Gardens Competition selects 2011 winners

Tami Valcourt’s back yard took first place in both the Outdoor Living and Perennial Award category of the Morinville Best Gardens Competition Aug. 17. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

By Stephen Dafoe

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Morinville – The fourth annual Best Gardens Competition wrapped up Wednesday morning with judges viewing the handiwork of six local gardeners competing in four separate categories. As has been the case in previous years, there was no shortage of horticultural creativity in the front and back yards of Morinville homes despite a growing season that has seemed like more rain than sun.

For Melonie Dziwenka, who organized the annual event for the Town of Morinville, there was a sense that competitor’s gardens were more than just arranging some pleasing plants. “People have made little worlds for themselves that they can kind of escape to or share with friends and neighbours,” she said, adding she is often surprised by what she sees when she gets to the backyard, either threough the elaborate nature of what residents have done or the simple touches that pull it all together. “Putting a planter on top of a fire pit – I just thought that was creative.”

Dziwenka said she felt the efforts of local gardeners speaks to Morinville’s community spirit. “It shows that people take a lot of pride in their residence,” she said, explaining the development of outdoor space creates a kind of personal oasis on their properties. “What I see there is people creating another space for themselves and inspiring their neighbours.”

For first year judge Valerie Loseth, who championed the development of Morinville’s Centennial community Garden this year, the garden competitors showed considerable creativity. “I love people who think outside the box, and use abnormal things in normal ways,” she said, adding the use of ladders as plant stands and stone as permanent landscaping gives the garden year round appeal. “Come October those flowers are gone – what’s it going to look like? But if you have hardscape, evergreen trees and all that sort of stuff; your garden still looks great the whole year. That’s one of the areas of the judging that I really paid attention to. Is this going to survive through, spring, fall [and] winter – what’s it going to look like? Sure it looks great now, but when I look out January 3rd, what am I going to see?” Loseth said the use of hardscapes and statues can keep a garden interesting through all seasons.

But while the judges may have felt all of the gardens viewed had merit and beauty, the final victors were determined by a tally of points, each category and garden weighed by a possible score of 100 from each of the three judges.
In the curb appeal category, Abe and Bjorg Carlson took first place with a total score of 249. Stuart and Nadine Trenchard, who took top spot last year, were a close second at 246 points.

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The Outdoor Living Award was presented to the Tami Valcourt for her near perfect score of 296 out of 300. Valcourt’s outdoor living area consisted of multiple seating areas surrounded by an extremely well-maintained lawn and a mixture of perennials and outdoor art. Donna Becker took second place in the outdoor living category with 229 points. Valcourt and Becker also took first and second place, respectively, for their perennial gardens.

Becker, the lone competitor in the unique container garden category, took first and only place for her multiple creative container gardens.

In addition to the bragging rights of being a Best Garden for 2011, the victors will receive gift certificates to continue to populate and improve their gardens.

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