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Islington in Bloom 2019: The 'healing' powers of gardening lauded by overall champion

PUBLISHED: 18:07 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 05 September 2019

Myka Baum at St Mellitus Garden. Picture: Myka Baum

Myka Baum at St Mellitus Garden. Picture: Myka Baum

Copyright © Myka Baum 2019

The woman who stormed the Islington in Bloom awards last night says the "healing" powers of gardening have comforted her through two tumours and mental health issues.

Munever Ibrahim, of Image Tailors in Stroud Green Road, Picture: SuppliedMunever Ibrahim, of Image Tailors in Stroud Green Road, Picture: Supplied

Myka Baum, 47, of St Mellitus Church in Tollington Park, wasn't able to make it to the glitzy award ceremony at Islington Assembly Hall last nigh owing to her illness, but that didn't stop her winning the champion of champions and forgotten corner categories.

She told the Gazette: "Gardening is a healing tool as it grounds you in the moment, it connects you with the place you're in.

"I go into my garden every morning, have my coffee and look out for what's going into flower - it gives me a lot of joy.

"It's different every day and there are surprises hidden away." Myka's gardening pays attention to the "detail and variety" of plant life and she works to create an environment where biodiversity can thrive.

Islington Bloom winners 2019 Ramsey Ritchie, Sponsor Peter Hulett from Camden Garden Centre, the Mayor, Darren Kirwin. Picture: Keith EmmittIslington Bloom winners 2019 Ramsey Ritchie, Sponsor Peter Hulett from Camden Garden Centre, the Mayor, Darren Kirwin. Picture: Keith Emmitt

The annual horticultural competition, organised by the council, has been running for 16 years and continues to showcase the innovations of green-fingered neighbours, businesses, community groups and schools in Islington.

Elsewhere, Munever Ibrahim, of Image Tailors in Fonthill Road, scooped the best blooming pub or business award for the second year on the bounce.

Reflecting on getting the award, she said: "It was really exciting. It's nice to be recognised for the effort I put in. The thing is all the neighbours and the customers love coming to the shop because it's very warm and inviting, and it warms my heart that nobody vandalises anything and they do appreciate it."

Munever, 66, who lives off Stroud Green Road, has been running the business for the past 23 years. In that time, she's transformed a patch of concrete outside the shop into a patchwork of roses, dahlias, geraniums and more.

Islington In  Bloom winners 2019. Picture: Keith EmmittIslington In Bloom winners 2019. Picture: Keith Emmitt

She added: It's good fun and I enjoy what I do in my work but it's just a little bit of relief when you go into the garden.

"When I came there was just concrete but I created this 'oasis', as the customers call it."

Crayford Road Gardeners won the best street category, which the Gazette sponsors. The green-fingered neighbours have twice come in second place and once in third in this category, so were delighted to finally get the gong.

Hayley Robinson told this paper the Crayford Road Gardeners started in 2012 when a neighbour wanted to throw a jubilee party, which served to bring everyone together.

Islington In  Bloom winners 2019. Picture: Keith EmmittIslington In Bloom winners 2019. Picture: Keith Emmitt

She said: "Some people lived in the street for 20 years but didn't know a single soul apart from [their direct] neighbours. It's amazing because they are involved in everything now and really linchpins of the community. It's strange because you can live alongside people and not know them and then make a deep connection."

Hayley explained the street has gardening days a few times a year, where people might help paint benches - installed to combat isolation and bring the community closer together - while others garden or just bring cake and tea and have a chat.

The teacher says the community has really focused on helping wildlife thrive by building bug and bat boxes, plus installing bird feeders this year.

Ahead of the event, Islington's environment and transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe said: "Islington's environment chief Cllr Claudia Webbe said: "Islington in Bloom is a fabulous celebration for our community - we have so many green-fingered residents and their beautiful gardening helps make Islington such a welcoming and attractive borough."

Islington In Bloom winners 2019. Cllr Webbe, Stephen Mullen, the Mayor. Picture: Keith EmmittIslington In Bloom winners 2019. Cllr Webbe, Stephen Mullen, the Mayor. Picture: Keith Emmitt

The full results:

Children's poster six and under: Maggie Craddock (2)

Islington In  Bloom winners 2019. Cllr Webbe, Jenna Mackenzie, Krzysztof Kozaczuk, the Mayor. Picture: Keith EmmittIslington In Bloom winners 2019. Cllr Webbe, Jenna Mackenzie, Krzysztof Kozaczuk, the Mayor. Picture: Keith Emmitt

Children's poster - 7 to 9: Mamie-Fatou Joof (2)
Children's Poster - 10 and overall winner Shabnam Sakhizada

Best Children's Painting - Willow Children's Centre (1)

Best Children's Painting - Hargrave Primary School (2)

Best Children's Painting - Pooles Park Primary School (3)

Myka Baum at St Mellitus Garden. Picture: Myka BaumMyka Baum at St Mellitus Garden. Picture: Myka Baum

Best Front Garden - Erif Rison (1)

Best Front Garden - Michael Benn (2)

Best Front Garden - Mary Gibson (3)

Best Garden Container - Darren Kirwin & Ramsay Ritchie (1)

Best Garden Container - Louise & Mary's Garden (2)

Best Garden Container - Eileen Carnell (3)

Best Blooming Pub or Business - Image Tailors (1)

Best Blooming Pub or Business - The Shakespeare's Head (2)

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Best Blooming Pub or Business - Rotunda Bar and Restaurant (3)

Best Retail Street or area - Camden Passage (1)

Best Retail Street or area - Therberton Street (2)

Best Retail Street or area - The Iskele (3)

Best Community Garden - King Henry's Walk Garden (1)

Best Community Garden - Culpeper Community Garden (2)

Best Community Garden - Freightliners City Farm (3)

Best Street - Crayford Road Gardeners (1)

Best Street - St Thomas's Road (2)

Best Street - Mayton Road (3)

Best Community Centre Garden - St Luke's Community Centre (1)

Best Community Centre Garden - The Ringcross Community Centre (2)

Best Community Centre Garden - Residents at St Mungos (3)

Best Community Park - Lever Street Community Park (1)

Best Community Park - Penn Road Gardens (2)

Best Community Park - Caledonian Park Friends Garden (3)

Best Tree Pit - Pamela Berham (1)

Best Tree Pit - Number 28's Treepit (2)

Best Tree Pit - A treepit for all to enjoy (3)

Best Residential Communal Garden - Jessops Court Gardens on Rocliffe Street (1)

Best Residential Communal Garden - Quaker Court TMO (2)

Best Residential Communal Garden - Tom, Chloe, Christopher and kids (3)

Best Forgotten Corner - Myka Baum St Mellitus Garden (1)

Best Forgotten Corner - Coleback Mews N1 (2)

Best Forgotten Corner - Arlington Association (3)

Best Entry from Housing - Pamela Berham (1)

Best Entry from Housing - Sylvia Fisher (2)

Best Entry from Housing - Carlina Garcia (3)

Best Entry from PFI - Jessop Court Gardens on Rocliffe Street (1)

Best Entry from PFI - Quaker Court TMO (2)

Best Entry from PFI - Tom, Chloe, Christopher and kids (3)

Pattenden - King Henry's Walk Community Garden

Champion of Champions - Myka Baum St Mellitus Garden

Best Ward - Highbury West

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