Green-fingered Wigan nurse lands national gardening gong

A Wigan nurse’s grow-your-own skills has landed her a national honour.
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For Jenny Winnard has taken home the Plant to Plate award in the Not Your Average Gardener awards run by garden centre giant Dobbies.

Social media guru Michael Griffiths, aka the Mediterranean Gardener, judged Jenny’s category and said he really loved her approach to growing her own produce.

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Jenny Winnard is a national gardening championJenny Winnard is a national gardening champion
Jenny Winnard is a national gardening champion
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He was particularly impressed with how 47-year-old utilised the allotment space and created a hobby that the family can enjoy together.

Jenny, a registered mental health nurse for the NHS, fell into gardening by accident when her husband Phil put their names down for the local Allotment Society waiting list.

She said: “I have fond memories of spending time with my gran in her garden, pocketing tomatoes out the greenhouse and learning about all the different types of food you can grow at home.

“But my real passion as an adult started back in March 2021 when we found out an allotment space had freed up, and within minutes we said yes to the plot. I’m quite a creative person and this allotment gave us a brilliant opportunity to enjoy something new together as a family.

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"It’s a full family affair and we’ve even managed to get our 13-year-old daughter, April, involved, where she regularly tends to her raised strawberry bed.

“Gardening for us is a place to get some headspace each day, relax, unwind and be free to do what we want, whether that is trying to grow a crop from seed, experiment with an exotic vegetable that we’ve never seen in the supermarket before or tend to our flock of chickens.

“I’d encourage anyone to give gardening a go! Pick a bag of seeds, something you really love eating and is regularly in your fridge, pop them in the soil and just see what happens.”

Jenny revealed that her must-have gardening essential is a Hori Hori Knife as its on her all the time, great for digging things up and harvesting crops.

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Michael Griffiths was blown away by the entries, but Jenny’s inspirational space particularly impressed him.

He said: “It has been fantastic to be part of Dobbies’ Not Your Average Gardener Awards this year. Seeing how gardeners across the country are using their growing spaces to enrich not only their own lives with fresh fruit and veg, but their family’s too, has been so rewarding. Picking a winner was certainly difficult with so many deserving entries, however Jenny’s passion for growing her own food, the approach she took to accomplish this and the variety of exotic crops she’s been growing really shone through.”

Jenny will receive a £1,000 giftcard to spend in her local Dobbies store as well as advice from the in-store horticultural experts on how she can take her gardening project to the next level.

Dobbies’ horticultural director Marcus Eyles said: “Each year we’re amazed with the quality of talent entering our Not Your Average Gardener Awards and can’t believe this is our fourth year.

"Our judging panel had a tough time whittling the entries down to four winners, and I’m exceptionally proud of Jenny for taking home the crown for our Plant to Plate category.”

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