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WEEKEND: GARDENING: Mediterranean masterpiece; THESE PATIOS HAVE GOT POTS AND POTS TO OFFER - MAKING THEM A WINNER IN OUR GARDEN OF THE YEAR COMPETITION.

Byline: ANN EVANS

ANN EVANS continues our look at the winning gardens in our Melbicks- sponsored Garden of the Year competition. This week we feature top patio and container gardens

Winner: Patio garden

WE didn't jet off to a sun-soaked Mediterranean island for the beautiful haven which took one of the first places in our gardening competition.

But it's hard to believe as you stand in Tracy Gray and Michael Taylor's back yard in Stoke, Coventry, that you are not in Spain or some other tropical hotspot.

Tracy, a sewing machinist, and Michael, a driver for Solar Glass, have created a fantastic themed patio garden that has a truly Mediterranean feel.

The couple have lived at their home in Briars Close for only three years. When they moved in, the garden was nothing but a plain back yard which was perfect for the imaginative pair, as they got to work on creating their dream garden.

The colours and brightness of the garden are what strike visitors initially; brilliant white walls decorated with blue mosaic, terracotta pots filled with greenery and vibrant blooms, a grapevine trailing the little sun house, a tiny vegetable garden where tomatoes and strawberries grow.

"Because we've done it all ourselves it has kept the cost down," said Tracy, who, as a sewing machinist, makes bath aids for disabled children. "The mosaics are made from floor tiles which were murder to break ... I've spent hours on my knees doing the mosaics. We don't do anything simple - we go mad!

"I was stunned when I heard we'd won. It was hard work creating this garden and it's lovely that it has been recognised like this.

"One of the prizes is pounds 200 worth of Melbicks vouchers, so we'll be using them to make a start on the front garden. We've done nothing to it yet but we're starting to get a few ideas as to how we'd like it. The prize vouchers will certainly help."

Other prizes which Tracy and Michael have won include a patio heater, a Gardena micro-drop starter kit worth pounds 50, a pounds 20 meal voucher and bouquet.

All the competition judges were equally impressed by the couple's unique garden.

Jan Kirk, from the Evening Telegraph promotions department, who is herself a keen and knowledgeable gardener, said: "There is such a great impact when you walk into their garden. It's a new look and it's wonderful to see young people really getting into gardening."

Runner-up AN INCREDIBLE 700 pots fill the patio garden of Christine Joyce and Adrian Chapman at Broadlands Close in Whoberley, Coventry.

After discovering that beneath the paving in the garden was nothing but thick concrete, they decided to keep it that way and concentrate on the potted variety of plants.

In fact the only soil you'll find is in the pots, which are crammed with everything from roses to bamboo.

Christine, who is an educational assistant, says: "We tend to go for the more unusual plants now, because we are running out of space. Or I like to buy the damaged plants and then bring them on. Having a garden with so many pots is hard work, especially when it comes to watering."

Christine and Adrian have won a Bermuda patio pond worth pounds 90, Melbicks vouchers worth pounds 50 and a Willowstone Marbella vase worth pounds 41.99.

VAL LOCKHART'S neat and pretty garden in Winterton Road, Bulkington, took third place in this category.

Val is a hospital receptionist and her husband Bruce is a retired butcher. The couple have lived in Winterton Road for 29 years and Bruce says when they moved in, the garden was just a load of rubble. For many years the couple had lawns but more recently Val decided to have the whole area paved and has since filled the garden with a lovely array of potted plants.

The couple won for their garden Rawlinson wall stone worth pounds 90, Melbicks vouchers for pounds 50, a stone bird bath worth pounds 26.99 and 100 litres of Levington multipurpose compost.

CAPTION(S):

SUN-SOAKED: Michael Taylor and Tracy Gray (above) have transformed their back yard into a Mediterranean-style garden (right). Pictures: MICHELLE SPERRY
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 19, 2003
Words:698
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