Derek’s floral talents secure In Bloom prize

Derek Cunliffe being presented with the In Bloom contest winners certificate by Bill Burton from Leigh Neighbours
Derek Cunliffe being presented with the In Bloom contest winners certificate by Bill Burton from Leigh Neighbours

A Leigh resident’s efforts to transform his home into a floral wonderland have been rewarded after competition judges decided his garden was blooming brilliant.

Derek Cunliffe, of Findlay Street, was selected as the winner of the Leigh Neighbours in Bloom competition after his stunning flowerbeds and planters wowed the contest organisers.

I’m delighted that my garden gives pleasure to others and I hope it continues to do so for many years to come.

Derek Cunliffe

Derek, 72, won first prize in the fabulous front garden, beautiful back garden and bountiful hanging basket categories of the competition.

He took up gardening as a serious interest around six years ago after battling throat cancer and has been so successful that his floral displays now regularly stop passers-by in their tracks.

Derek said: “I thought I would be in with a chance but I was quite surprised to win. I feel extremely proud and privileged.

“Gardening is very important to me, it’s much more than just a hobby. I’ve always had an interest in it and since I’ve retired I’ve been able to devote more time to it. It’s hard work but a labour of love and it helps to keep me healthy as well.

“I’m already planning how I will spend the prize money. I’m always on the lookout for different shrubs and plants and I’ll definitely be investing in some winter and spring bulbs too.

“I get a lot of comments and people stop right outside my house. They often ask about the dahlias, which I seem to do very well with because I look after them throughout the winter to keep them free from frost.

“I’m delighted that my garden gives pleasure to others and I hope it continues to do so for many years to come.”

The In Bloom competition was judged by Leigh Neighbours board member Bill Burton and Nick Burdekin from Wigan Council.

Derek’s gardens include perennial favourite plants including rhododendrons, lilies and peonies alongside blooms such as angel trumpets, hibiscus and passion flowers.

He also offered an expert tip to help people improve their hanging baskets.

He said: “You must water them every day. People think if it rains they don’t have to bother but the water actually runs off the leaves.”