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Pubs in Bloom 2016

Skip finds, re-used and up-cycled into planters and flowers grown from seeds collected last year, combined with creative flair and attentive nurturing make The Essex Arms’ pub garden a lush, colourful courtyard oasis, and the winner of this year’s Brentwood Pubs in Bloom competition.

“We’re elated to have won. We’re passionate about our local community and want to get involved in things going on in it. Winning this competition puts The Essex Arms at the heart of the community and we’re delighted,” said Essex Arms manager Mike Shewbrook.

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“The Essex Arms’ stunning garden fuses urban chic with natural beauty to great effect. The team has been so inventive with the theme of re-use and recycle, creating a wonderful garden in a relatively small courtyard space,” said competition organiser and judge, Jaye Eaton of the brewery’s sales and events team.



The theme for this year’s competition, organised and sponsored by Brentwood Brewing Company, was Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. Nineteen pubs entered with judging taking place a little earlier than usual, in June.

Once again, Brentwood horticulturalist and gardening guru Keith Petty volunteered to assist as competition judge, helping the brewery to determine which pub has the best blooms. Keith is chairman of Brentwood Guild of Gardeners and has been a member of the organisation for four decades.

“Judging is quite a difficult job as pubs’ outdoor spaces vary so much and they’re all different – all unique. We looked for the best aspects in every garden, keeping an eye out for that something extra special, difficult to define, but something with oomph. You know it when you see it,” said Keith.

As Ben Easen of the winning Essex Arms will agree, achieving the ‘oomph’ factor takes a lot of planning and hard work.

DSC_0448“It started last year, harvesting seeds from the garden to germinate indoors in February, ready to plant out in late spring. We’ve added to the garden this year. Sadly, we’ve had some family bereavements and have planted roses in the garden in remembrance for each of them including one for our dog Lottie.

“We’re doing our bit for nature, encouraging wildlife like butterflies and bees.

“Barman Dan Kiggins has helped out in the garden with watering and our regulars have brought in reclaimed items, such as car tyres, all destined for tips and skips, which we’ve turned into planters. Our baskets have been re- used and re-sprayed,” said Ben.


Even the pub’s ceramic planters are second hand – donated by a local centenarian lady, Greta, who was downsizing before moving into a home.

Keith Petty added: “The Essex Arms is a deserving winner because of the hard work and continued effort they put into their attractive garden, growing all the plants from seed, re-using, recycling and up-cycling. They may have a small outdoor space but they use it so well.”

The Hutton Junction and The Viper achieved platinum awards in the competition. Judges commended the Hutton Junction’s magnificent grapevines saying the garden was ‘calming, refreshing and beautifully maintained’. It was the roses that were singled out for praise at The Viper with judges adding it is ‘a quintessential country pub with a colourful and well maintained garden’.

The Alma Arms also got a special mention from the judges, impressed with the reclaimed industrial sink planter feature and pine cone mulching idea, which keeps moisture in the soil and weeds out, in a most decorative way.

Keith Petty added: “This competition is important because not only does it encourage people to grow plants and help wildlife but it also helps to make Brentwood a beautiful place.”

An awards ceremony was held at the brewery earlier this month where the 2016 Brentwood Pubs in Bloom winner was announced. All participating pubs got the opportunity to socialise over a glass of Brentwood beer and each received a certificate.

MD Roland Kannor said: “Brentwood Brewery is keen to promote this community-spirited competition which enhances the local environment and champions the importance of the traditional pub garden – a place in which to relax, smell the roses and enjoy a drink with friends.”

Congratulations go to all the pubs that took part in the competition, which is aimed at making the borough and surrounding area an attractive environment and building strong community relationships. They are:

The Rising Sun, The Swan, The Hutton Junction, The Viper, The Willow, The Olde Dog Inn, The Alma Arms, The White Horse, The White Hart Inn, Margaretting Tye, The Star, The Bricklayers Arms, The Forresters Arms, The Cock Tavern, The Eagle, The Rose, The Spread Eagle, The Robin, The Thatchers and The Essex Arms.

The brewery would like to thank Keith Petty for his continued support of this competition by volunteering his time, expertise and invaluable help with judging.


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