SOMERS POINT — There were more green thumbs entered in the Green Thumb Garden Club Garden Contest this summer than any year prior.

Publicity Chairwoman Rosemary Evans said there were 32 gardens entered, more than doubling the normal number of competitors. “We really appreciate the generous assistance we received from Shore Medical Center, our gold sponsor,” Evans said. “I think we were able to reach more of our gardeners this year, and it is wonderful to see so many people taking such pride in their gardens.”

Club President Sally Pietrofitta, club member Carol Bennett, of Mays Landing, and several others visited all of the home gardens and made the tough decision to choose winners. Pietrofitta said she was appreciative for the help of the Brigantine Garden Club, which did the judging for the local businesses and the members-only category. “We applaud and thank all participants who shared their variety of gardens that have all helped beautify our city,” Pietrofitta said.

Each of the winners received a framed photograph of their garden along with a certificate.

The home gardens of the Grays on Somers Avenue were exploding in shades of pink crepe myrtles, bright pink hibiscus and rose-colored hydrangea punctuated with day lilies and zinnia. Patti Gray accepted the award for her husband, Gary, and said, “Gary just loves working in the garden and making it so beautiful. He is very proud of his work and proud to be selected.”

The San Pedros of Massachusetts Avenue have a neat, tidy and colorful front yard, but just a few steps beyond the fence their vegetable garden begins and stretches up the sidewalk, around the deck and across the full length of the back yard with unbelievable bounty: eggplant, cucumbers, squash, peppers, tomatoes, figs, string beans and a pear tree to set it all off. Oscar San Pedro is the architect of the garden. He uses nitrogen-rich dried horse manure that is mixed with soil that he gets from a nearby horse farm. “I never use any pesticides in my garden,” San Pedro said. His wife, Emma, likes to cook as well as put up the bounty to enjoy the rest of the year in stews, salads and to accompany fish, a mainstay in Filipino cuisine.

Just down the road in Linwood, Green Thumb Garden Club members Mary and Matt Rydzewski gave a tour of their five separate garden that are named for each of their grandchildren. Their gardens are home to more than 240 different species and offer something different with each turn.

The winners will be acknowledged by Somers Point City Council at the Aug. 22 meeting at City Hall.

The 2019 Green Thumb Garden Club Contest winners:

• Commercial — VFW Post 2189 and the Submariner Veterans Memorial

• Flowers — Cheryl and Ed Rush, Jon and Pat Bitzer and Gary Gray.

• Containers — Janice Strigh

• Vegetable — Oscar San Pedro

• Junior/Schools — New York Avenue School with Rob and Desiree Hopkins

• Members Only — Matt and Mary Rydzewski and Sally Pietrofitta

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