GARDENING is very much a family affair for these four green-fingered folk.

Gerald and Win Hawkins, 79 and 77, live next door to their daughter, 52-year-old Sue Milner and her husband Richard, 57, in Cherwell Drive, Oxford.

This year, the two couples will be entering the Oxford Mail-backed Oxford in Bloom competition for the third year running.

Mrs Milner said: “It’s a real family event for us. Although it goes as two entries, one of ours and one of theirs, we all join together to do little bits and pieces of it.”

Two years ago the Milners won a gold award for their first entry and the four gardeners have between them picked up a clutch of silver and bronze certificates for their front and back gardens.

Mrs Milner said: “It is important to me to keep my garden nice but, to be honest, taking part in the competition makes me a bit fanatical.”

Between them, the Milners and Hawkins spend hours in the garden each day, watering, deadheading and weeding.

Mrs Milner said: “I think the garden is lovely at different times of the year. In May we had rhododendrons and at the moment we have some lovely roses. There is always something different to look at.”

As well as the immediate family, nephews and nieces help with watering the plants and picking up fallen petals when they come to visit.

Mrs Milner praised the competition and said she would like to see more people getting involved.

She added: “I think it encourages people but I also wish more people would take a pride in their gardens.

“People enjoy looking at well-kept gardens. We even get people telling us we do a really good job and our gardens are beautiful.

“Even if we didn’t enter the competition, we would still take a pride in our garden.”

Mrs Hawkins jokinging said the contest was “good when it’s over”.

She added: “It is a challenge but it is worthwhile doing.”

Mrs Hawkins said she had been passionate about gardening all her life, following her parents’ example.

She added: “It’s the way I have been brought up, it seems natural to me, and it is very rewarding.”

School and community group entries close today but other gardeners have until Sunday, July 10, to enter their gardens, hanging baskets, containers, or balconies.