Ashley Ball visits the latest contender in our hunt for the town’s best garden and is struck by the flower power on show...

BARRIE Clarke’s retirement has been largely dedicated to manicuring his masterpiece of a garden in Hemingfield.

It has been worth all the effort for the former NCB blacksmith, plater and welder, now 83.

Take a look:

His wife Elsie, 75, knows best.

She smiles: “He’s like a bear with a sore head if he can’t go out into the garden.”

Barrie nods along in agreement.

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“In winter I do nothing because of the arthritis,” he says.

“I like springtime because I start my seeds and raise all my plants - I enjoy it then the most.

“When we first came it was just fruit trees and conifers.

“I like flowers just to make it look nice.

‘There is only really us that see it other than a few friends, it’s just for us two and the family.

“I like petunias a lot; it’s the way they flow down and cascade.”

When I arrive he’s got his shears in hand and is on with a job he has spotted. Most people would marvel at the perfection on show but you get the impression Barrie will always have something or other to prune or perfect.

He has transformed the space around the back of their home of 45 years.

Where once was a fish pond is a now an elevated lawn which offers even better views around the many sections of the garden.

All the paving and brickwork has been laid and designed by Barrie himself and is, perhaps surprisingly, ultra modern.

He also cleverly lets creeping plants fill in some gaps.

All his borders and lawns are meticulously cut and laid out showing a much defter hand than Barrie must have had in his working days.

He has even had a crack at topiary and has an impressive teddy bear and duck underway.

Acers and trimmed bushes add yet more texture and shape to ensure you don’t quite know where to focus your eye first, then a jacaranda tree needs to be identified to me.

Roses also play a huge role in one border and are at their blooming best.

Barrie said: “I have done everything in the garden.

“I always try and do something different and change the design every year.

“I don’t think I get inspiration from anywhere. It just seems to come to me.”

The vote for Barnsley’s Best Garden will open on our website once all the contenders have been featured. Then the final decision will be made by a judging panel in August.

The search for Barnsley’s best garden is kindly sponsored by Sunflowers From The Hills.

Read more about our 'Barnsley's Best Garden' comeptition here: