A GARDENER from Old Sarum has been crowned winner of BBC’s The Big Allotment Challenge.
Alex Lomax, 68, was volunteered to take part in the competition by his daughter, and paired up with family friend Ed Bond, a teacher from Westbourne near Portsmouth.
The new show, likened to The Great British Bake Off but for gardeners, sees nine pairs take part in a series of challenges, with one team leaving each week.
The filming process began in March, when each team took over an allotment in a walled garden at the Mapledurham Estate near Reading.
Mr Lomax and Mr Bond spent about 30 hours a week on the project until the autumn, tending to their plants and planning recipes. “We always maintained a positive attitude, planned very well and had a strong determination to do our very best, with just a few wobbles along the way,” said Mr Lomax.
Throughout the programme, the pair were said to be the most competitive. “We were billed as the most competitive but for most gardeners it’s about camaraderie and helping one another out, which we did even though it was a competition,” he added.
His interest in gardening started when he was at primary school and it continued throughout secondary school, when he helped form a gardening club.
Mr Lomax and his wife moved to Old Sarum 18 months ago to be closer to his young grandchildren and just after filming for the show ended, he got an allotment in London Road.
Offering advice to others considering getting an allotment, he said: “Don’t take too much on in your first year; enjoy it, don’t go crazy.”
But he added: “I have failed to follow my own advice. And immediately after we finished filming, I started again.”
Looking to the future, he plans to visit a number of gardening shows, including Chelsea this week, and to teach gardening to schoolchildren.