In November 2020, Jean Vernon was awarded a very prestigious award from The Garden Media Guild for her writing about bees

The Garden Media Guild awards are considered to be the Oscars of the garden media world. In an ‘normal’ year they are held with glitz and razzmatazz within the glamour and pomp of the Savoy Hotel on The Strand in London.

COVID-19 took its toll on the 2020 awards ceremony and instead of a champagne reception, indulgent lunch with free flowing wine, petit fours and the company of our fabulous garden media colleagues, the event was held online. Thank goodness for Zoom and for the generous sponsors.

It all kicks off earlier in the year when the award categories are announced, and the entries have to be in for mid September. Then there’s a nail biting few weeks before the finalists are announced.

I entered my book into Garden Book of the year and I have to be very honest here I was desperately disappointed when it wasn’t shortlisted. It’s a hugely hotly contested category and perhaps my book didn’t fit the ‘garden’ aspect required.

But for the second year running I was shortlisted for the Beth Chatto Environmental Award, which was very exciting. This year I entered my Telegraph Gardening article revealing some of the secrets about bees from my book plus a few extra juicy nuggets of recent research.

Return of the bees always gives me a buzz. This online version is almost the same, but there may be a paywall.

It was very exciting to be a finalist in the awards and I was very relieved that my category was up second, as though I didn’t think I would win (the other finalists had hugely worthy entries), I was still quite nervous.

The category was introduced by Beth Chatto’s granddaughter Julia Boulton and then zoomed to Roy Lancaster in his garden.

That in itself was a treat, to see Roy in his own garden. But when he started to talk about the entries and the awards, I suddenly realised that he was talking about me. To be honest I couldn’t believe it.

The judges said:

A stimulating and varied range of entries covered everything from veganism and peat-free compost to floral foam, invasive plants, mindfulness in the garden and the trend for rewilding. Our winner stood out for her passion, the depth of her knowledge, and the approachable and engaging way she communicated her love for the wonderful world of bees. The judges really felt her entry was written from the heart. The Beth Chatto Environmental Award for 2020 goes to Jean Vernon.

Shocked doesn’t come close. I was totally overwhelmed. What an amazing night.

Roy Lancaster is one of my heroes. I interviewed him many years ago and had the privilege of a guided tour with him of the Hillier Arboretum in Hampshire. He has an animated story for each and every plant and is a joy to listen to and spend time with.

Beth Chatto was a huge inspiration to us all in the garden industry and I had the very great privilege to meet her in my early years of writing about gardens, plants and gardeners.

It is an absolute honour to receive this award from the Beth Chatto Education Trust especially for my work and writing about bees.

Thank you everyone!

Jean Vernon is awarded The Beth Chatto Environmental Award for her feature on bees in the Daily Telegraph

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