Judged by Lee Stevenson, Jan Jones and Mike Vickers. Photographed by Lyn Ward

Friday 12 June dawned bright and beautiful. It was the perfect day to visit the winners of the Inaugural Fethiye Times Garden Competition to present the prizes. As judges, we felt privileged to be able to experience these little oases of calm and, suitably masked and disinfected we were given a warm and hospitable welcome by their creators. Not only did we marvel at such creativity but we learned a lot along the way – a pop of colour here, a shady spot there, a fragrant corner in which to sit and relax. Our chosen gardens had them all.

All of the winners were keen gardeners who had practiced their craft over the years but, without exception, we were told that many of the plants in each garden were purchased cheaply from local plant suppliers or given as gifts by neighbours. This should be encouraging for those of you who want to have a go. Space was not an issue either as some of the most effective features was simply something planted in a pot and placed in a suitable spot. The only skill here is not to forget to water!

The other thing that all our entrants possessed in spades (see what I did there?) was enthusiasm to see something grow and thrive. The unexpected bonus was a quiet place to be when the world got stressful. Or to simply enjoy a glass of something refreshing, with or without company.

A beautiful balcony bedecked with colour

Our first stop of the day was to Trudy Walford who won the category Best Balcony. Situated  in Fethiye old town, high above the busy streets with a view to die for, she had created a beautiful balcony bedecked with colour which she described as a perfect outdoor room. A combination of standing planters, hanging pots and an unusual rusty coloured  bougainvillea created a shady room of relaxation.  She has enjoyed it with her partner Roger who has been in isolation since March due to his age.  Trudy hails from New Zealand but had arrived in Turkey via India and there were references to her travels throughout.  Trudy let us into the secret of her maintenance regime which is to dead head every day and water at sunset. Simples! Congratulations Trudy on creating this beautiful space.

A poolside full of character and imagination

Our next stop was with Sue and Pete Saunders who won the category of Best Poolside. They have an equally impressive view of our beautiful town from a location high up in Taşyaka and live in a lovely apartment block with shared pool and garden space. Their background is in catering and they stay fit by playing badminton. By accident or design they have taken the lead in the garden and the other tenants are happy for them to do so! It is full of character and imagination but it was the border of beautiful grasses and shrubs against the gleaming white wall of the apartment by the side of the pool that was a real eye-catcher. The poolside also boasted a lovely sofa made of pallets and painted white, placed in a shady spot and surrounded by pots it was both beautiful and practical – and a whole lot cheaper than heading to the local shops to buy the equivalent in plastic!  Sue and Pete originally lived in Ovacık but took on this project when they relocated to Tasyaka 7 years ago. Pete told us that the garden took 5-6 years to establish and repeated what Trudy had told us – cheap plants, regular dead-heading and regular watering are the secrets to their success. Well done!

An inspirational labour of love

Fethiye Times Garden Competition 2020 - meet the winners
The presentation of the award to Kathryn and Chris Jarvis for best garden

The final stop for us on this often surprising and deeply enjoyable morning was to present The Best Garden award to Kathryn and Chris Jarvis up in Ovacık where they have lived for the past 5 years. Originally from Monmouthshire, they have lived in Turkey for about 17 years and the features in their garden incorporate the traditional in structure and plant variety. They collect plants and features and ideas from their travels in Turkey. The bougainvillea came from Datça and the large antique pots came from Ortaca They do a lot of up-cycling and once again old pallets painted brightly and pegged to walls were very effective. An up-cycled Turkish crib was painted boldly and filled with a riot of colour and a brightly painted (and practical) Turkish Köşk nestled in the corner at the bottom of the garden. So another tip for budding gardeners here is to keep your eyes peeled for inspiration wherever you go. It is also plain that this delightful location is a labour of love and a happy place to entertain. The prize was well deserved – it is a garden to be proud of.

Our morning eventually came to an end. It had been sociable, educational and inspiring. We thank our prize winners for sharing their knowledge with us and for their generous hospitality. The bar has been set very high for next year but nothing is impossible with a little bit of care, attention and imagination…are you going to enter?