FINALIST in National Garden Competition 2012

Hamish Webb, one of the judges of the competition said of Driftwood,
"I've seen hundreds of gardens over the 21 years of judging the Daily Mail Competition and believe me, you are up there with the best of them."

Tim Sharples, Chair of judges said
"This bright, beach-inspired plot embraces its location with imaginative planting".

The judges said in Weekend magazine on 22nd September, when the winner was announced, "the weather hasn't exactly been kind to gardens, with an amazingly hot, dry spring followed by a record-breaking spell of cold and rain. We honestly expected very little from this years entries." Tim Sharples, landscape designer and head judge said, "we were sure they were going to be the worst on record."
Well, said Weekend, the judges need not have worried because, once again Mail readers rose magnificently to the challenge. More than a thousand entries poured in and the standard was higher than ever. "It's actually been a vintage year" said Tim. "It was extremely hard to whittle it down to just 4 finalists (Driftwood in East Sussex being one of them) proving how remarkably resilient Britain's gardeners and plants are!"
After much deliberation, the winner - by a whisker - was announced in Weekend Magazine on 22nd September, a fabulous garden in Montrose.

Click here to see the article of 4th August,
"Facing the final hurdle!"
Meet the finalists in the horticultural equivalent of the Olympics.

Here is the full feature that appeared in the Daily Mail "Weekend" Magazine on Saturday 4th August 2012. Click article to see specific piece on Driftwood, described as

Below are 3 images taken in July 2012 by Dan Goldsmith for the
Daily Mail Weekend Magazine.

I decided to enter the competition on a whim, on 16th May, and got the 8 photographs ready to submit along with the detailed plans of both front and back gardens. Everything I sent is shown below. All photographs, except the front garden were taken in the summer of 2011

A view of the cottage garden area. The central beach area. View along the main garden path.
A view across the right of the garden. Overall view of body of garden. View across the pond area.
The newly planted front garden taken in May 2012. The newly planted front garden taken in May 2012.
Plan of rear garden Letter confirming a finalist and the receipt of plaque. Plan of front garden.

So, you can imagine my surprise to receive a phone call on Thursday 28th June to learn that Driftwood had been shortlisted from over 1200 entries in the final 12 for competition. Two judges came to visit on the 6th July to look at the garden.

A few days later I received a phone call to confirm I was in the final 4, listen to the call here. One garden was in Montrose in Scotland, one in Manchester, one in Reading and Driftwood, the only one in the South East.

Three more judges visited again on the 24th July and went on to see the other 3 gardens. A journalist interviewed me and 2 photographers took several hundred photographs of the garden, some of which were featured in the Daily Mail Weekend Magazine on 4th August. Soon to be shown below.

Hamish Webb, one of the judges said in his letter above, " Nick, Tim and myself found choosing a winner from four such fantastic gardens very difficult. Any of the four were good enough to win, different judges may, I suppose, have chosen a different winner".

Regretably we were not the ultimate winner this year, but our prize for being a finalist is the fabulous cast iron blue plaque (above) for the garden marking the great achievement of reaching the final 4 out of over 1200 entries across the length and breadth of the UK.

The judges, chaired by garden designer Tim Sharples, evaluated what each garden had, in the light of its position, space and intentions. Tim, however, was fascinated by the provenance of some of the plants and objects in the garden that have lots of personal memories and associations. He was very complimentary as he said it was much harder to work with a small garden and achieve this level of success. In his own words, he certainly got the "wow" factor as he entered the back garden!