Residents aiming to get their green fingers on 70-year-old gardening cup

Green-fingered residents on Bradford Estates have been spending more time in their gardens recently in a bid to take home top honours in a competition which dates back 70 years.

The Bradford Estates’ Garden Challenge Cup was launched by the 6th Earl of Bradford in 1952 for employees on the estates to showcase their efforts and the battle for the trophy proved to be hotly contested over the next 40 years. The competition was not held after 1992 but was reinstated in 2020 by Viscount Alexander Newport, the 6th Earl’s grandson and Managing Director of Bradford Estates, following a resurgence and interest in gardening brought about by the first Covid lockdown.

Competition among the 150 residents on the estates has been just as fierce over the last two years as it was historically and this year’s winner, judged by Estates Groundsman Vince Derry, will be revealed at a special presentation on Tuesday, July 19th.  Lord Newport said: “Travelling around the estates and seeing the extraordinary efforts of residents is an absolute joy. They take a lot of pride in their gardens which harks back to the pride my grandfather had in the properties across the estates, resulting in his decision to award a challenge cup.

“We have some truly amazing gardening spectacles right across the estates – from Tong Norton to Weston-under-Redcastle and Blymhill and we are delighted to recognise all the hard work with this celebration.” The winner of the competition gets to keep the challenge cup for the next 12 months. The 70-year-old trophy is engraved with the names of all the past winners and the difficult task of deciding who takes the cup home falls to Vince Derry – who is also a past winner.

“There are some beautiful gardens on the estates and it is always exciting to see the innovative ideas people have in bringing their colourful creations to life,” he said.

“Picking a winner is a difficult job, colour and design are important considerations but we are also looking at the overall aesthetics and the ability to incorporate sustainability.

“There was a whole new enthusiasm for gardening which came out of the need to keep busy and find hobbies and interests to occupy people during the lockdowns and this has generally continued, which is really good to see.”