GREEN-FINGERED gardeners wowed the judges at this year's Halstead in Bloom competition.

The winners of the prestigious contest have now been revealed after judges carefully inspected entries around the town at the start of July.

This year's free event included four categories for front garden, back garden, allotment and young person’s garden.

Entrants were judged on how clean, tidy and well-tended their gardens were, including colour co-ordination and mix of plants.

Extra marks were awarded for water conservation, recycling, mulching, and composting, as well as sustainable planting, future plans for the garden and homegrown plants.

A spokesman said: "This year most of the entries came from general gardens, with fewer allotment owners taking part.

"Despite this, the standard was very high and it was a difficult task for the judges.

"The winning gardens were those whose owners were used water conservation, recycled, mulched and made their own compost.

"The gardens were all hidden treasures and an oasis of calmness ideally suited to the owner’s lifestyles."

Halstead Gazette: The Pattesons' winning allotmentsThe Pattesons' winning allotments (Image: Halstead in Bloom)

Surprised judges even found a bar and a railway shed on one allotment, and palm trees and exotic plants in some of the gardens.

The spokesman added: "All showed off the gardeners’ skills and craft to a high standard.

"It was also lovely to see the gardens produced by young people under the age of 15 and the enthusiasm generated from this category which was reinstated this year."

The Patteson family won the allotments category with their entry of four allotments. Judges said the range and quality of crops was "outstanding".

Chris Bruin won the front garden category with a vivid display of colour, neat beds and fabulous lawn.

Tracey Rowe won the back garden category with an "amazing" garden that could only be reached through the house.

Halstead Gazette: Chris Bruin scooped the award for best front gardenChris Bruin scooped the award for best front garden (Image: Halstead in Bloom)

Judges said everywhere they looked there appeared more plants and features in a garden that ha evolved over 20 years The under-15s category was a difficult one to judge because all three entrants had put in so much work and commitment.

Little Pickles Nursery had planters and equipment especially for small children and a good range of crops in a small space.

Halstead Gazette: Holy Trinity Gardening Club's allotment was a joint winnerHoly Trinity Gardening Club's allotment was a joint winner (Image: Halstead in Bloom)

But they were pipped by joint winners Holy Trinity Gardening Club and Halstead Girl Guiding allotments who showed "great knowledge, commitment and understanding" of gardening.

All winners received a certificate and a blue plaque that can be displayed outside.