Blooming lovely – Vic and Joan’s prize park plot

Radio Lancashire's Stephen Lowe congratulates Holgates in Bloom winners Vic and Joan Monkhouse
Radio Lancashire’s Stephen Lowe congratulates Holgates in Bloom winners Vic and Joan Monkhouse

Two green-fingered holiday home owners from Cumbria have become the pick of the bunch in a gardening competition run by a major holiday parks group.

Vic and Joan Monkhouse were named this autumn as overall winners in the annual Holgates In Bloom awards, beating scores of other contenders to the title.

The Carlisle couple were congratulated at a special ceremony at Silverdale holiday park in South Cumbria by BBC Radio Lancashire presenter and gardening guru Stephen Lowe.

And adding his praise of Vic and Joan’s fantastic floral flair was Michael Holgate whose family business owns six parks in Cumbria and one in North Lancashire.

Now in its fifth year, the Holgates in Bloom awards are open to over 850 holiday home owners across the group, and highlight couples and families creating the most colourful splashes.

The competition was judged this year by Rosemary Speake, treasurer of the Silverdale Horticultural and Gardening Society.

The couple's prize plot
The couple’s prize plot

Vic and Joan’s garden, said Rosemary, was not just a delight for the eye, but also showed great skill and good judgement in the couple’s choice and positioning of plants.

The couple have owned their holiday home at Bay View Caravan Park for five years – and chose the location because their son Mark and his wife Suzanne plus two children live nearby.

Vic, aged 70, helps populate his holiday plot with cuttings and bulbs from the garden at their Carlisle home, including hydrangeas, sea hollies, hostas and begonias.

Although he and Joan visit their holiday home frequently, between-times care is carried out by Mark who works with his dad in his Cumbrian industrial oil supply business.

Helping to organise Holgates in Bloom each year is Kim Hodson-Walker who, with her partner Eddie, works as warden at Netherbeck Park near Carnforth.

Kim says that the competition always attracts keen interest from holiday home owners throughout the group, and results in a glorious floral spectacle over the summer months.

Winners and runners-up on each of the parks each received a £50.00 garden centre voucher, and an inscribed stone tablet from Honister Slate Mine near Keswick.

Stephen Lowe, who presents BBC Radio Lancashire’s popular Sunday Lancashire Outdoors show, said he’d been amazed by the flair and imagination of the parks’ holiday home owners.

There is more information about Holgates’ holiday parks at