A STONE gardener who has overcome tough odds to turn not only her own garden but her street into a blooming marvel is the winner of the Newsletter’s Bloomin Local garden competition.
Tracey-Jayne Smith is disabled, needs a walking frame to walk - and has to do her gardening sitting on the ground.
But she has turned her garden in Altona Close, Stone, into a work of art - and then set to work turning the communal gardens near her home into a blaze of colour.
What’s more, Miss Smith, 45, has achieved the transformation within a year of moving into her new home, which had a neglected and overgrown garden when she arrived.
Her efforts have won her the Newsletter’s first Bloomin Local competition, sponsored by the Stafford and district branch of Age UK.
The award comes just a couple of months after she gained the Inspiring Others prize in Stafford Borough Council’s Pride in Your Patch awards.
“I’ve also entered the Stone In Bloom competition - so I’m hoping for a hat-trick,” Miss Smith said. “I find gardening very theraputic and it de-stresses me.
“My garden also proves that you don’t have to give up on life because you are disabled - it’s about what you can do, not what you can’t do.”
As well as its visual impact, Miss Smith has designed her garden as a wildlife haven. Frogs and hedgehogs are regular visitors, and she has counted 17 bird species, ranging from blue tits to kestrels and tawny owls.
She started gardening at the age of just four. “My grandfather was a great inspiration - he loved his garden, particularly his dahlias and roses,” she said.
“I just naturally took to gardening and I haven’t stopped since. I couldn’t live without a garden.
“My favourites are traditional flowers, including foxgloves, snapdragons and pansies.”
Her friend and neighbour Lucy Charlampowicz added: “Tracey is a total inspiration. Her garden design has a really spiritual quality to it, and she gives everyone around here a lot of happiness.”