Competition looking for gardening excellence


by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Local gardeners have until July 28 to register for Morinville’s Annual Best Garden Competition. Judges will once again be looking to reward gardeners for the design and maintenance of their gardens and will be entering competitor’s yards Jul. 30. As in previous years, the hometown pride initiative is first and foremost about cultivating community pride along with cultivating an excellent garden.

“There’s so many gardeners in the area. It’s an opportunity for people to just demonstrate their gardening skills and share their love and passion for gardening with the community,” said Allen Jacobson, Morinville’s Community Development Coordinator/Event and Volunteer Specialist. “It’s a big celebration of community and of gardening and beautification of the town.”

Communities in Bloom tie in

Jacobsen sees this year’s contest as a special one because Morinville re-entered Communities in Bloom in a non-competitive category. Judges are set to come through Town June 28, the same day nominations for the Best Gardens contest close, to judge the community as a whole. “We’re going to tour them around the town and show them what businesses have done, what community groups have done, what the Town has done – especially how we’re working in concert,” Jacobson said. “It’s perfect timing.”

Jacobson is hoping to show judges from outside the community the serenity those inside the community have created independently and collectively. A highlight in viewing previous garden nominees has been that sense of serenity gardeners have created in their own back yards or the visually striking displays many gardeners created in their front yards. Those elements will earn points again this year both in the Communities in Bloom judging, but particularly for those nominated for the local contest.

Four categories to enter

Once again this year gardeners can be nominated for one of four categories: curb appeal, perennial gardens, outdoor living area and most unique container garden.

The curb appeal competition rewards the gardener’s ability to wow passers-by. Judges will be looking for first impressions, overall effect, use of space and materials and any special features and focal points the front garden might have. Additionally, points will be awarded for selection of plant materials, with textural contrast and plant combinations playing a role.

The perennial garden competition is open to gardeners with five or more species of perennials and those whose perennials make up at least three quarters of their garden. Judges will be considering a number of factors, including first impressions, visual impact, rhythm and flow and the use of colour. Additionally, judges will be considering the succession of bloom, as well as the health and vigour of the individual plants.

With the outdoor living area competition there is more to it than having elegant patio furniture on a nice deck. This part of the competition rewards the gardener / landscaper for their ability to maximize outdoor enjoyment through Alberta’s ever-changing weather patterns. The area must have plants, although these may be growing in containers. Some of the elements judges will be looking for include visual impact, balance, proportion, location and quality of workmanship.

Weird, wild and wonderful will once again be the aim of the unique container challenge, an element of the competition open to business owners as well as homeowners. The goal is to create a one of a kind container arrangement. Judges will be looking for several elements, including intrigue, visual impact, proportion, placement and integration into the garden.

Prizes will once again be gift certificates winners can use to add to or maintain their gardens.

Jacobson said the four categories offer four ways to reward residents and their efforts to beautify their own property. He is encouraging local gardeners to nominate themselves or their neighbours for the contest. “If you think that your neighbours put a lot of effort into it and has enhanced the neighbourhood; that’s a really positive thing,” he said. “A lot of times we go through life not really acknowledging what people do, and that’s an acknowledgement of not just what they do for themselves but for the rest of as well. Sometimes it’s an inspiration for you to go ahead and beautify your own neighbourhood.”

To nominate a local garden for Morinville’s 7th Annual Best Gardens contest contact Allen Jacobson before 4:30 p.m. July 28 at 780-939-7832 or by e-mail at

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