TYNEDALE’s top dahlia exhibitor has become a national champion.

Andrew Robinson, from Hexham, beat fierce competition to win first prize at the National Dahlia Society’s annual show at RHS Wisley in Surrey.

“I have been growing dahlia’s for 20 years and have been at the national show for the past five years,” he said.

“But this is the first time I’ve won, so so it’s good to see all the hard work is paying off.”

Asked about the secret behind his win, and what he did differently to clinch the title, he put it down to carrying out more work on the flowers and a slice of luck.

Andrew started growing his prize-winning dahlia’s in February this year and managed them throughout the spring and summer.

He said: “The cold weather in the spring wasn’t too bad because they were in the greenhouse.

“The summer weather proved more tricky because it meant they had to be watered around the clock. Keeping them alive and well was the main priority.”

The next step after winning the national championship is to either retire at the top or defend the title.

But there are no plans to stop just yet. Andrew will be showing his dahlia’s at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show this weekend in the hope of adding to his long list of accolades.

“The preparation for the competition is the same as usual. Keep the plants healthy and there shouldn’t be any problems,” he added.