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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Gardening buddies blossoming with age

COLOUR blindness has never held back award-winning 91-year-old gardener Bob Roberts.

The sprightly pensioner and buddy Frank Todd (Toddy) have transformed the garden at Barras House in Dalston over more than a decade, creating a memorial area for many residents’ lost loved ones.

Their efforts won them a community champion award in this year’s Cumbria in Bloom competition.

Dalston also won best large village in the competition.

Bob, who gardens despite the shaking caused by Parkinson’s Disease, started work on the gardens when he moved into the residential home 15 years ago. Then, it was mainly green open space.

Toddy, 89, joined him a few years later and is in charge of cultivating the blossoms over the winter in his potting shed, which was paid for by the parish council.

Bob said: “He doesn’t like buying plants from garden centres and grows everything himself. Much to the disgust of the cleaner, his flat sometimes looks like a potting shed. One end we call the Park was just grass 15 years ago and the person whose window looked out on it asked if I would plant a bush in memory of her husband.

“Since then, it has turned into a kind of memorial garden with lots of plants growing in memory of people.”

The friends jokingly call each other blood brothers after they simultaneously cut their hands while gardening. Bob said: “We’re good friends and we work in partnership.

“I’m colour blind, which sometimes means I can’t even tell when plants are dead so I do all the pruning and planting and I look after the shrubs. Frank provides all the blossom and the colour.”

The 26th Cumbria In Bloom award ceremony was held at Kendal Town Hall.

Alan Heath, chairman of the organisation, said: “The participants are the most important part of Cumbria in Bloom and share in the largest environmental project in Cumbria and the United Kingdom.”

“The judges have stated that your standards of achievement are high. You should be proud of the benefits you have brought to your communities and congratulate yourselves.”

Awards also went to Keswick for being the best in Allerdale and Pica for the best small village.

See The Cumberland News this week for the full Cumbria in Bloom results.

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