Gunnersbury Residents Put Best Face Forward

Area brightened by Front Garden Awards competition

Front gardens in the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate. Photo: Laurent Widloecher

June 27, 2024

The Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate has been looking even brighter recently after residents prepared for the first ever Front Garden Awards.

The independent judging for the competition was held last Saturday (22 June) in an event organised by a partnership between the newly-enlarged Residents' Association and the Bat Corner Association, which was set up by residents of
the estate after a failed attempt by Transport for London to build a car park on one of the estate's green spaces in 2023.

The awards were attended by Andy Slaughter MP, Auberon Bayley, head of Cultivate London, Richard Parker, head of the International School and representatives from Fortnum & Mason and ITV.

Gardens all across the Estate were competing for the six main categories with the winners decided by Constance Craig Smith, gardening writer for the Daily Mail and English Garden; Neeth Abey, horticulturalist for Capel Manor College, Gunnersbury Park and Dr Karen Liebreich MBE, head of Abundance London.

The categories and the winners were:

Best overall garden - Mr Stephen Moss, 196 Gunnersbury Avenue;
Most colourful garden - Mr Tony Traxler, 42 Princes Avenue;
Best garden design - Ms Claudia Hearne, 18 Park Drive;
Most pollinator-friendly garden - Ms Kelly Lavelle, 148 Princes Avenue;
Best use of pots and planters - Mrs Vanessa Cham, 142 Princes Avenue;
Best shared neighbours’ garden - Mrs Angela Khan & Carmen TBC, 14 & 16 Princes Avenue;
Kid’s choice - Ms Claudia Hearne, 18 Park Drive;

Winner of the Best Overall Garden category, Mr Stephen Moss with Vice-Chair of the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate, Mr Richard Barden and Chair of the Bat Corner Association, Mr Andrew StevensWinner of the Best Overall Garden category, Mr Stephen Moss with Vice-Chair of the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate, Mr Richard Barden and Chair of the Bat Corner Association, Mr Andrew Stevens

After the announcement of the judges’ decision, Mr Moss said, “Winning the Best Overall Garden award for 2024 was nothing short of a delightful surprise for me. For years, I’ve believed that front gardens are the unsung heroes of our homes. Despite living in a modest flat, I've always strived to make the most of every inch of space, transforming my outdoor area into a haven of beauty and functionality. The vision was clear: a perpetually green, low maintenance sanctuary that welcomes guests, offers a retreat after a hard day, and thrives with minimal effort. We chose Star Jasmine for its fast-growing, evergreen beauty and intoxicating summer scent to form the perimeter of our garden. To enrich the sensory experience, we planted fragrant herbs like sage, mint, and rosemary, while vibrant clematis and fuchsias added splashes of colour. Ornamental grasses and palms provided height and lushness, creating a dynamic yet tranquil space.”

An array of businesses and supporters provided prizes, ranging from a hamper from Fortnum & Mason, a Webb Garden Power lawn-mower made by British equipment manufacturer, Handy and seed bundles and smaller prizes from the heritage UK firm, Mr Fothergills as well as bird boxes from Abundance London and vouchers from Chiswick Flower Market.

The present-day homes of the leafy Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate were built in the 1920s on land that was formerly an orchard called White Point Field. The field was once part of the larger Gunnersbury Park estate owned by the Rothschild family in the 19th century. The residents have always had a reputation for being green-fingered and count amongst themselves the family of the former Keeper of Gunnersbury Park, Keeper Hodges. Keeper Hodge’s son, Barry Hodges (seen in the photo below), was one of the residents who walked away with a rosette for his garden on the day.

Barry Hodges (right) with his father, Keeper Hodges (private photo taken in the 1950s)
Local resident Barry Hodges (right) with his father, Keeper Hodges (private photo taken in the 1950s)

The Hounslow and District History Society historian, James Marshall, was recently asked to research the founding of the estate and discovered that 1925 was the year the estate was founded, making 2025 the centenary year. After painstaking research, Mr Marshall informed residents that the estate and its gardens can be considered one of the first ‘Garden Suburbs’ in the world, with the first being Bedford Park - the only other Article 4 Conservation Area in Hounslow. The Front Garden Awards are the estate's way of kicking off their centenary celebrations and sprucing up the estate to make the Centenary a truly special event.

The awards' sponsors have all shown support for making biodiversity a key factor, a stance also taken by the judges, including Constance Craig Smith who said, “My feeling is that biodiversity and care for wildlife should be a requirement (or at least a major asset) for all categories, rather than a category in itself, so something the judges could be asked to take into account whichever category they're judging.”

Andrew Stevens, Chair of the Bat Corner Association said afterwards, “Very impressed by the efforts put in by many people in the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate for the Front Garden Awards. The great community spirit shown here can only bode well for the Estate’s centenary celebrations in 2025!”

Kelly La Velle, Winner of the Most Pollinator-Friendly Garden category, was delighted with her win adding, “Amazed and pleased with our award! Providing food, water and shelter for pollinators and wildlife was an important part of our garden design. About 40% of the plants are evergreen; we chose perennials not annuals, and water is available at different levels for all creatures.”

Claudia Hearne, winner of the Best Garden Design and the Kids’ Choice categories commented, “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded two rosettes at the Front Garden Awards. This is my first foray into designing a garden, so to win Best Garden Design is a huge honour. Winning the Kids’ Choice Award is also lovely - it has been a great pleasure to see the children become interested in the plants and why they are essential to the ecosystem. Selecting which plants to use has been a huge learning curve, and I loved visiting heritage sites such as Chiswick House and Gardens for design inspiration.”



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