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12 May, 2014 - 10:14 By News Desk

Parsons wins horticulture competition

YHOH-prize – by Jonathan Ward

You could have heard a leaf drop at the start of the Young Horticulturalist of the Year (YHOY) competition in Norfolk.

Eight finalists sat poised over their buzzers in front of an audience of keen growers and gardeners from all over the UK. Questions covered everything from plant identification, habitat and diseases to the obscure origins of the names of plant pots.

The YHOY competition, this year hosted by Norwich’s world-leading plant research institute The John Innes Centre, is a flagship event for the horticultural industry.

The first prize is the £2000 Percy Thrower travel bursary, named in honour  of the famous television gardener, and sponsored by The Shropshire Horticultural Society. The prize money can fund a horticultural tour anywhere in the world.

The YHOY award attracts some 1800 entrants each year. The eight finalists were selected through a series of heats and regional finals.

This year’s winner is Chris Parsons from County Durham, a finalist in two previous competitions. The award was presented to him by Percy Thrower’s daughter Anne.

Chris, who runs his own gardening business, is particularly interested in ornamental plants. He would like to use the award to travel to either Vietnam or Taiwan to look at a range of exotic plants in both their natural habitats and in garden settings.

Second place went to Jessica Evans who works for the National Trust in Somerset. She and the third place winner, Kristina Vandenberg both received significant prizes while the runners-up were each awarded a prize of £150. In his closing remarks, the President of the Horticultural Association, Leigh Morris, noted the remarkable breadth of knowledge shown by the competitors and his delight that the future of the industry was in such capable hands.

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