Stripes to strive for! Now in its 10th year, the Allett Mowers annual Creative Lawn Stripes Competition once again attracted entries from all over the world.
The past few years have been tough for everyone, say Allett, but what they have noticed is a growth in lawn-care enthusiasts spending more time in their gardens. The aim of the competition is to encourage homeowners to use their lawns to design the most creative, eye-catching designs that truly show off the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into grass maintenance.
This year’s judge was 2021 Champion Dennis West of Provo, Utah, USA following an internal vote done by a specialist Allett panel with the top six entries forwarded to Dennis to choose the winner, who would receive an Allett Liberty 43 mower with all cartridges and two cartridge stands.
“It was an honour to be asked to judge this year’s competition,” says Dennis, “the top six presented some very strong entries, all of which show a love for lawn creativity Picking one winner was a tough job, but after analysing the entries I found one that, for me, embodied not only lawn striping creativity, but also a representation of the beauty of the United Kingdom.”
The top six entries came from England, Wales, Australia and Canada, and the 2022 Champion is Edward Aitken, Head Gardener at Cornbury House, Oxfordshire. Cornbury Park is a private estate in the town of Charlbury, fifteen miles from Oxford, England. The estate includes 1,700 acres of the most ancient forest in Britain and is host to events such as the award-winning Wilderness Festival and charity fundraisers.
“The combination of radiating, straight, and angled stripes in this expansive design brings to mind the sectional features of an aerial image of the English countryside with rolling hills divided by rock walls. The strong stripes that seamlessly blend from curved forms to straight demonstrate an expertise that ensured the final design met very particular standards of perfection,’ say the judges.
Of the process that led to the wining design, Edward says: “Our lawn is a very old lawn which we have been renovating to get it up to standard. It was cut with a ride-on originally, which didn’t pick up the grass clippings, so it was a bit of a mess. Now we cut with a Hayter 56 at various heights of cut. I changed the height depending on what part of the lawn I was cutting.
The circle area has to be cut higher compared to the area closest to the house just because of the thickness of the lawn and how much thatch is left in the lawn. Each different pattern is cut at a different height, which helped to show off the pattern a bit more.
“The inspiration for the design comes from the centre circle part of the lawn where the chequerboard is, which is actually a helicopter landing area. The idea was that it looked amazing when the family and their guests were coming in in the helicopters, which I thought was quite effective.
“Once I’d cut the circles, it was a case of breaking the lawn up into a couple of different sections and making sure it looked nice as you’re looking out. The family I work for have an outdoor eating area just outside the house so it looks good when they’re looking over the garden. I’d say it’s taken about a year to get it looking good. I cut it once a week with certain areas cut twice a week, so the central checkerboard area is cut twice a week in a different direction.
“I’m delighted to win as I’ve entered three times now. I was third the first time, second the last time. I thought I’d stand a chance this year with the circles making it an interesting lawn, so I’m very pleased to have won. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the prize. I’ll probably use it in my own garden at home as I’ve got quite a large lawn. Maybe I will start doing some patterns!”
Competition judge Dennis West’s final comment was to offer congratulations to all the finalists, saying, to make it this far is quite an accomplishment. “Most of the winners in recent years entered more than once before winning the prize, so keep entering and you may be next!”
Paul Wigman Nottingham
Head Gardener Clumber Lodge
Emile Hernandez gardener
Somerville College Oxford
Simon Rice, South Australia
Dan Milne Canada
Tom Frampton, Wales