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PHS announces winners of gardening contest; sees marked increase in entries during COVID-19

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has announced the winners of its 2020 Gardening Contest, an annual gardening competition that typically attracts hundreds of entries from amateur gardeners around the Philadelphia region who submit their gardens in a competition celebrating the region’s collective gardening efforts. This year, entries to the contest increased by more than 25% compared to 2019, reflecting a spike in gardening interest and appreciation during the pandemic.

For the first time in its 45-year history, the 2020 Gardening Contest was conducted fully online, with contestants sharing photos of their outdoor gardens, houseplant collections, or public space gardens, and answering detailed questions about their entries. With just over 500 completed entries received in 2020, 122 were recognized with a Blue Ribbon Award; 160 entries were deemed Gardens of Distinction; and 259 were awarded a Proud Participant.

{{AdGroup18}} In reviewing the variety of entries in this year’s contest, Sam Robertson, PHS program manager, Gardener Engagement, stated, “As always, PHS staff and our contest judges enjoyed viewing the beauty of each garden submission – but during this challenging summer, we were particularly impressed by the creativity and resourcefulness showcased. With many of us spending more time at home, we were delighted to see how gardeners recruited family members to support their garden work. All of us at PHS congratulate the hundreds of participants who took the time to bring beauty to their communities and to the larger gardening audience in the area.”

PHS members and staff served as judges, carefully scoring gardens and sharing constructive feedback and suggestions with each contestant to consider for next year’s garden. Gardens were awarded Blue Ribbon Winner, Garden of Distinction, or Proud Participant recognition, with judges using the following criteria:

• Aesthetic appeal including beauty, creativity, and effective design
• Plant Health & Production
• Sustainability Practices
• Habitat for Beneficial Wildlife (Outdoor Gardens Only)
• Social Connections to Family/Neighborhood/Community

Entry categories included Outdoor Home Gardens, Public Space Gardens, and the inaugural category of Indoor Houseplants, allowing many gardeners without an outdoor space to participate in this year’s competition.

Complete results from this year’s competition are available on PHS’s website, and select gardens will be spotlighted on the PHS Home Gardening Facebook Group.