Ructions have arisen in Brentwood, Essex, over their Brentwood in Bloom competition, as reported in the Daily Telegraph. Jan Brooker has said she’ll never enter again after a flurry of letters to the local paper complained at the £80 prize for a first-time entrant being awarded to someone who used artificial grass.
Her garden undoubtedly looks pretty, with a splendid array of flowers. The “grass” was put down after she had a knee operation and found mowing difficult. I don’t think anyone can quibble with that; it’s a practical solution for someone who likes the look of a lawn and doesn’t want to replace it with hard landscaping, or create work with more beds.
The fault here does not lie with Mrs Brooker but with the judgement. There's a good argument for ruling artificial grass out of competition gardens. One letter to the local paper said, “Any prize-winning gardener will tell you the hardest part of keeping a garden looking good is the lawn.”
The flowers can be tricky too. Would it be acceptable to put in a couple of artificial peonies to brighten up a corner? I don’t think so.
Artificial grass has its place, but not, I venture, in competitions for the best garden.