October 2022 – Britain in Bloom

This month is when June in her capacity as a judge goes to London to take part in the annual awards ceremony for Britain in Bloom.

Now I confess I had precious little idea of what Britain in Bloom was about. I had a vision of ladies in hats and twee flower borders and I didn’t get it.

Of course, I was as far from the truth as it’s possible to be. Britain in Bloom which started in 1963, is about community involvement and volunteers working together to make where they live alive with flowers.

I can certainly remember as a child growing up with amazing floral displays created by the council in the seaside town where I grew up. In the (ahem) 1960s, Southport in Lancashire was a corporation with great civic pride but local government reorganisation and budgetary cuts in the 1980s led to the eventual demise of intricate displays and the mile and a half floral extravaganza along Rotten Row.

Britain in Bloom has put that back. Now the local council and Bloom volunteers work together and Rotten Row is full of colour along with local parks and other areas in the town. It is a joy to see and I have so much respect for all the Bloom volunteers who work to make this transformation happen.

We all know just how much being in a beautiful place with nature can make us feel better. As a kid I didn’t appreciate it enough but now I know how it can transform how you feel about a place.

Since 2002 the campaign has been run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their experienced judges tour the length and breadth of the country looking at all the entries and marking them against three main criteria of horticultural excellence, environmental sustainability, and community participation.

In environmental sustainability, this would include such things as using prioritising perennial or pollinator friendly plants over blanket use of bedding (beloved of the Victorians): considering wildlife when planning and maintaining areas; thinking carefully about water use and eliminating the use of peat.

Community participation helps to get other groups involved, perhaps in the building of structures. Schools can often be involved in creating and planting their own school gardens. The whole enterprise brings people together, instils a sense of pride in the local environment and can help to tackle issues such as littering, graffiti and other anti-social behaviours.

It’s a long way from posh hats and twee flower borders and we are proud to be a small part of it through June.

All the finalists (categorised mainly by size – city, town, small town, village and so on) will come together in London to hear who has won in their category and also who is the overall champion. It’s a great night and we’re looking forward to hearing about it first-hand.

Meanwhile back at the ranch (well garden) we are beavering away in the garden. One of the biggest activities right now is of course apple picking and the apples are being turned into juice by the Kirkby Fruit Project and selling briskly.

Otherwise it is a time of planning for next year and for undertaking the work that cannot be done at any other time of year like lifting and dividing plants that have outgrown their space in the border and yes Persicaria amplexicaulis (Red bistort) I’m looking at you. A lovely plant, beloved of bees but a bit on the thuggish side.

So plenty to do and as the days grow cooler a great way to keep warm whilst gardening. What could be better.






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