Warwickshire garden finalist in BBC Gardeners’ World Garden of The Year 2023

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Warwickshire charity worker and mum of two, Dionne Sambrook has been named as one of eight finalists for BBC Gardeners’ World Garden of the Year 2023.

The finalists with gardens in locations across the UK, had professional photoshoots in the summer, prior to being judged by a panel of gardening experts including Alan Titchmarsh, Arit Anderson and renowned Chelsea garden designer Anne-Marie Powell.

Dionne’s garden in Meon Vale is a new-build garden, on the edge of a new village built on brownfield land in south Warwickshire, close to the border with Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. The garden has been created from almost a blank canvas over five years. The garden has been created to provide a flexible space for everyone in the family to share, including the dog, and has the usual features of a patio, lawn and vegetable beds. But the garden has wildlife as an important component. Insect habitats, a wildlife pond, log piles and lots of native wildflowers feature in the north-facing plot.

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Dionne says “Gardens have a huge role in supporting nature and in tackling the current biodiversity crisis. Lots of people have access to a garden and there is a lot you can do to encourage wildlife. It need not cost much, if anything and you don’t need green fingers. You really just need time and lots of patience. I have found observing and learning about the wildlife that visits my garden to be fascinating. My garden is buzzing and full of life and every leaf has been nibbled or munched by something. But that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful and full of flowers. It’s not a wild garden and I have room for roses, tulips and ornamental grasses and the other plants that most people have in their gardens. I also grow vegetables, fruit and herbs, although I have to share what I grow with slugs, snails and blackfly. The damage they do can be quite disheartening, but as they feed the birds, frogs and ladybirds, I’d rather have them than not. Watching dragonfly nymphs emerge from the pond and transform into dragonflies and then seeing them hunt around the garden is so much more interesting than having a perfect lawn.”

Dionne Sambrook in her Warwickshire gardenDionne Sambrook in her Warwickshire garden
Dionne Sambrook in her Warwickshire garden

Dionne also has created a micro tree nursery by collecting seeds from local trees such as acorns from oaks and the pips from hedgerow crab apples. After they germinate, the young trees are potted on and nurtured until they are big enough to be planted out. Something that many local residents can get involved with, just by collecting what you find on walks and seeing what will grow. There is something of a shortage of tree nursery-stock, so growing your own trees is a good way of ensuring your have plants for any tree initiatives over the winter planting season. Dionne suggests that every garden has room for a tree “Although not all trees are suitable for a typical garden, there are lots you can chose, including Acers which turn fabulous colours in the Autumn and can be grown in a pot. Or my favourite which is a crab apple, many of which are be small and compact with gorgeous blossom in Spring and lots of fruit in the Autumn.”

The winning judges’ choice was recently announced as a small courtyard in the City of Edinburgh, but the people’s choice award will go to the garden which wins the public vote. The vote closes on 6th November, so be quick to check out all eight finalists and vote for your favourite garden. Which may be one in Warwickshire. Vote for your favourite finalist in our Gardens of the Year Competition 2023, by clicking here.