When Marrianna and David Stewart moved into a new home in Morpeth 25 years ago, its overgrown garden didn’t rank high on their list of priorities.
More like a rubbish tip than somewhere to enjoy any leisure time, the plot had been abandoned to weeds and blown-in litter.
But what began as a bit of tidying up to make the space more presentable turned into a passion that has occupied the couple for the past quarter-decade.
Their green-fingered efforts have brought about such a remarkable transformation in the back garden of their Stobhill home that impressed neighbours nominated it last year for a gardening award.
To the couple’s surprise, it came runner-up.
Then this year, having been entered by neighbours again, it went one better and won.
A delighted Marriana said: “We could not be more thrilled . To be honest, at first I was not really that interested in gardening.
“I just wanted it tidied up because it was an absolute mess.
“Then, after we got the rubbish cleared and the wilderness cut back, we began to invest a bit more time in creating a proper garden.
“The more we did, the more we found we enjoyed it.”
In the annual competition run by Isos, a not-for-profit housing association, the couple won £100 of gardening vouchers, with other successful entrants receiving smaller prizes.
Marrianne, who is already planning further improvements in the garden to try to defend the title next year, is just happy to be reaping the rewards of so many years’ hard work.
“Now we really look forward to spending time in our garden – both working and relaxing,” she said.