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Inspiring Single Mum Named New Zealand's Top Gardener

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Inspiring Single Mum Named New Zealand's Top Gardener

A resourceful single mother-of-two has been named NZ Gardener's 2009 Gardener of the Year, in association with Bunnings Warehouse.

After years of scrimping, saving and sowing seeds to make ends meet, Christchurch gardener Susan Dent has won $5000 to spend at her local Bunnings Warehouse and a luxury weekend at the 2010 Ellerslie International Flower Show. Taking 20 percent of the public vote, Susan Dent won the supreme title by just 90 votes, with eight-year-old Marlborough gardener Joshua Marshall named runner-up. NZ Gardener magazine's annual Gardener of the Year competition aims to recognise and reward the nation's unsung horticultural heroes, who generously share their gardening skills with their local communities. Each regional winner takes home a $1000 package of gardening products.

Susan Dent, who says a trailer of horse manure was her best birthday present, created her first vege patch simply to make ends meet - but now the 42-year-old is also teaching primary school students about self-sufficiency.

When Susan couldn't pay her children's school bills, she offered to weed the gardens at Halswell Primary School for free. Instead, she was encouraged to apply for a position at the school as a part-time gardener - and she now cares for 26 classroom vege patches.

"Susan is living proof that gardening can turn your life around when times are tough. She's a real inspiration to all Kiwi gardeners and is a deserving winner of our ultimate accolade," says NZ Gardener editor Lynda Hallinan. The runner-up for NZ Gardener 2009 Gardener of the Year was Marlborough's 8-year-old Joshua Marshall. The youngest regional winner to date, Joshua not only grows his own veges: he gives them away to elderly neighbours in his street.

NZ Gardener editor Lynda Hallinan says: "Joshua proves that you're never too young to start gardening and you're never too young to learn that charity begins at home either."

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