On Saturday 26th June the prize-giving for the 2021 Patio garden competition was held in the South Garden, socially distanced and in glorious sunshine!

During this year’s lockdown, the front courtyard gardens seem rather different. They have been the only outside space our basement residents have had unrestricted access to, and so have been nurtured rather differently: cared for perhaps as a place to sit in and enjoy a quiet moment with a cup of coffee rather than a bright approach to a front door. There were fewer entries too. June saw the easing of strict lockdown restrictions, and we wondered whether competitive gardening was not at the forefront of people’s priorities. 

These basement courts are tiny, some shady, some very sunny, some windswept. Many have no water source, so it has to be carried in bucket by heavy bucket: learning to garden in one of these spaces is quite a challenge! But I suspect having a few plants to care for outside has helped through a long dreary time, and made a small walled outside space below pavement-level much nicer to sit in.

Certainly the little courtyards add greatly to the special spirit of place that makes us glad to live here, so thank you to everyone who gardens here, competitively or not.

Our entrants looked after the front courtyard gardens at:

  • 12a, Arundel Terrace
  • Flat 4, 14 Chichester Terrace
  • Below Stairs, 1 Chichester Terrace
  • 6a Lewes Crescent
  • 11a Lewes Crescent
  • 23a Sussex Square
  • Flat 6 (basement), 33a Sussex Square
  • 1a, The Leas, 34-5 Sussex Square
  • 2a, Sussex Mansions, Sussex Square

Please walk round the Kemp Town Estate and enjoy looking over the railings to appreciate the gardeners’ skills. They all looked magnificent. In the end we gave the top prize to James for his glorious garden in Arundel Terrace. The roses were beautiful, the honeysuckle smelt wonderful and the little pool added a special touch.

We nominated Cheryl’s garden in Lewes Crescent and Andrea’s garden in Sussex Square as runners-up. All 3 gardens were very different: established plants in Arundel Terrace, garden ablaze with brightly filled pots in Lewes Crescent, and wonderful vegetables in Sussex Square. It’s great to see what different gardeners think of doing with tiny spaces, and all in different parts of Mr Kemp’s grand design!

Next year we hope more of you will enjoy the fun of entering. We are hoping to include a section for doorstep gardens. Some of these have been amazing this year, and in some cases, they have become a great place to meet up with others in a house and make a focus for a community. 

Thank you to everyone who took part, both gardeners and judges – who had such a hard time deciding who should win!

Maggie Tattersall