Legendary gardening expert and TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh has declared a care home in Auchterarder, Perthshire as the winner of a Scotland-wide gardening competition.

Balhousie Ruthven Towers was chosen by Alan as the overall winner of Balhousie in Bloom, a gardening competition held amongst Balhousie Care Group’s 26 facilities across Scotland.

Alan praised Balhousie Ruthven Towers for “individuality, an eye for colour and great spirit” in a revamp involving residents, staff and the community. The 51-bedroom property, a former country house, received donations from relatives, locals and the church, including lupins and wild geraniums. It encouraged bees by leaving some flowering weeds, and added an orchard and ‘Zen’ garden to its already extensive gardens. Power washing the patio areas, painting fences and hanging baskets added to the transformation.

Balhousie Ruthven Towers wins a £500 donation to its residents’ comfort fund from Balhousie Care Group.

Home Manager Kirsty Smith said: “It has been a lot of work but has brought and will continue to bring our residents a lot of happiness and joy. We’re thrilled to bits to win Balhousie in Bloom, and to get the seal of approval of Alan Titchmarsh was just the cherry on the cake. It gave me goose bumps!”

Resident Victor Quirie, 92, grew up helping in the garden at his home in Dunblane. He said: “It was lovely to get stuck in again with planting and to see it all take shape. I’ve always followed Alan Titchmarsh so it’s very special to have him name Balhousie Ruthven Towers as the winner.”

In a closely run competition judged by Balhousie Care Group senior management, four finalists were chosen: Balhousie Ruthven Towers (Winner, Most Improved category); Best Community Engagement (Balhousie Luncarty); Best Staff and Resident Participation (Balhousie Coupar Angus); Best Indoor Display (Balhousie Rumbling Bridge).

The grand winner was then chosen by Alan Titchmarsh, who admitted his task had been a tough one. Alan also paid tribute to the challenges faced by Balhousie and other care operators these last 18 months.

“It has been very hard choosing an overall winner but I am so impressed by the fact that each entry has understood the value of gardens, plants and flowers in playing their part to improve our lives, particularly during the recent challenging times which have tested us all,” said Alan. “The overall winner demonstrated individuality, an eye for colour and great spirit. Congratulations to Balhousie Ruthven Towers for their tremendous improvement in providing surroundings that will lift the spirits of residents and visitors alike.”