Award for inspiring Peterborough gardener

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A determined Peterborough woman has overcome the odds to achieve success in a gardening contest and now wants to inspire others to go green.

Niki Preston (45), who was born with two fingers on her right hand and a shortened left arm, only took up gardening three years ago after moving to a new home in Elmore Road, Peterborough.

Niki Preston, who has won the Sunday Telegraph "Gardening Against the Odds" competition. Photo: Alan Storer
Niki Preston, who has won the Sunday Telegraph "Gardening Against the Odds" competition. Photo: Alan Storer

After setting her heart on transforming its large back garden, Niki set to work - using child-size tools and customising equipment.

Now she is celebrating after finishing as a national runner-up and a regional winner for the Midlands in the prestigious Gardening Against the Odds contest, which gave her the chance to meet two of her gardening heroes.

Niki said: “The awards ceremony was held in Syon Park in London and I got to meet Alan Titchmarsh, who was a speaker and David Bellamy, who was one of the judges.

“My mother-in-law nominated me and it all happened from there, it was an incredible experience.”

Niki Preston receives her "Gardening Against the Odds" award from David Bellamy. Photo supplied
Niki Preston receives her "Gardening Against the Odds" award from David Bellamy. Photo supplied

David Shreeve, a judge in the contest, said: “It is heartening to see how odds of all kinds are no excuse for so many people.”

Niki, who writes for a gardening magazine and also pens a blog about her horticultural experiences, added: “I just get on with my life and I’ve never let anything hold me back, but gardening posed a few difficulties for me,” she added.

“I have to use child-sized tools and gloves for digging and planting.

“I used to leave all the pruning to my husband, but then I found some cordless electric secateurs.

“When deadheading flowers, most people pinch the heads off with their fingers. As I don’t have many fingers, I use a tiny pair of deadheading snippers, which have a spring action so that they open by themselves

“Because hose pipes and watering cans are too difficult for me to use, I invented a new watering system. I put a garden sprayer into a trolley and it pull it around with me.”

Niki has already planted a herb garden and vegetable patch to get her garden ready for spring.

She added: “I hope my efforts will help other people who may not be very mobile to give gardening a try.”

To find out more about Niki visit her blog at www.nikipreston.com.

 

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