GCA Christmas competition winners announced

Barton Grange Garden Centre and Castle Gardens have been announced as the national winners of the 2021 Garden Association’s (GCA) annual Christmas competition.

The garden centres were judged to have the best festive displays in the country by the organisation and will receive their awards at its annual conference in January 2022.

Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, says: “Last year we were unable to hold such a competition with travel restrictions and various lockdowns in place, so this year was a particularly exciting occasion to return to our annual and much-loved competition of Christmas displays.

“This year experts’ anticipated early sales and a festive boom, so our member garden centres have gone all-out to impress their customers, and the judges, with imaginative and seasonal displays, making it a real challenge to choose the overall winners this year.

“The entrants were judged on general ambience, creativity, stock range, flow and tidiness, and customer service was also taken into consideration.”

David Fawcett-Ropner, display manager at Barton Grange, says: “It’s fantastic to hear that we’ve done it again and won Best Christmas Display in the UK in the Destination Garden Centre category. Being nationally recognised for all the hard work everyone throughout the garden centre has put in to making our displays so magical, especially during what has been another challenging year, makes it even more worthwhile.

“We start planning for Christmas a whole year in advance, and we’re so delighted to see all the effort and commitment being rewarded by the GCA, but also appreciated by our customers.”

The full results for the area winners are as follows for the Garden Centre and Destination Garden Centre categories.

Midlands: Gates (DGC) and Planters Bretby (GC).

South Thames: Garsons Garden Centre – Esher (DGC) and Castle Gardens (GC).

North Thames: Sunshine Garden Centre (DGC) and Squire’s Stanmore (GC).

North West: Barton Grange (DGC).

North East: Tong Garden Centre (DGC).

Wales and West: Whitehall Lacock (DGC) and the Old Railway Line (GC).

Louise Burks, director of The Gardens Group, which owns Castle Gardens in Sherborne, Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil and Poundbury Gardens in Dorchester, says: “To have the team’s creativity, resourcefulness and hard work recognised with these national accolades is just fantastic! With COVID considerations still very much at the heart of decision making, the team has gone above and beyond to make the displays as magical and exciting as ever, while ensuring they are safe and welcoming for everyone.

“Having Castle Gardens take first place for the 10th time is a very special achievement for The Gardens Group as a whole and one we are extremely proud of. This consistency reflects the commitment and ingenuity of our whole team, who make the transformation happen from scratch each and every year.”

The national winners will be given their awards during the GCA’s annual conference on Monday 24 January at the Mercure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa in Blackburn, Lancashire. The conference runs from 23-26 January 2022. Places can be booked via www.gca.org.uk.

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