Sharon Tomlinson presenting the Jennifer Elliot commemorative award

Garden Competition honours Jennifer Elliot


The East Ayrshire Garden Competition awards ceremony took place last month at The Burns Monument Centre, with a fantastic turnout of entrants and attendees. 

With such a wide range of creativity and talent on display, shown through artistic floral arrangements, meticulously preened hedges, vegetable patches and stylish landscaping, selecting winners for each of the 14 categories was no mean feat. 

For many years the competition was organised by the late Jennifer Elliot, a keen gardener herself, who took comfort in the power of gardening to boost her mental health and general wellbeing. 

We were lucky enough to receive a fantastic article from Blaire Tomlinson, Graduate Intern in Business Support and the grandson of Jennifer Elliot, who attended the awards ceremony…

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the awards ceremony for this year’s Garden Competition at the Burns Monument Centre on Tuesday 24 October 2023. 

Before I explain the reasons for my invite I wanted to share my experience. 

The number of entrants increases every year, and I was simply blown away by the amount of work dedicated to the gardens, planters and vegetable growing. It quickly became apparent that this competition is not about the prestige of an award but the effort and time the applicants spend in creating the gardens, which were simply incredible.  

After chatting to some of the participants I began to see the positive impact this has on mental health. Nurturing, watching things grow and the beauty of doing so is something I will personally try and I would encourage anyone to do so.  

Going back to my invite…sadly my Gran, Jennifer Elliot, passed away in October 2021.  My Gran simply loved gardening until she was no longer fit to do so. It was her “happy place” and somewhere she could relax and she was forever telling me how beneficial it was to mental health.  

She passed this knowledge on to my Dad, who gets so much pleasure from growing his own plants and seeing them bloom. My Gran organised the competition for many years and I am so very proud to tell you all that there is now a Jennifer Elliot Commemorative Award for the best rose garden.

To know that she will always be part of this fantastic event brings great joy to us, her family.  My Mum presented her award to Mr Mitchell, a D-Day veteran who works so hard to create his beautiful rose garden.  

Provost Todd presented a gift to this lovely gentleman who served our country, and it was a pleasure to meet such an inspiring man. 

To anyone who has never gardened, or for those who already do but perhaps have never thought to enter, please give it a go!

Many thanks to Blaire for this lovely write-up and congratulations to all competition winners!

You’ll find a complete list of winners and runners up on the East Ayrshire Council website.

Ever thought of growing your own fruit and veg? Find out how to get started, right here on our Living Well website!