From Coupar Angus to Jersey, Great Yarmouth to Derry, over a 12 day period starting on Monday 3 August, nine pairs of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) judges will see them all, as the 2015 Britain in Bloom with the RHS UK Finals Judging Tour hits the road in search of the very best in community horticulture.
Assessing over 5,000 acres of public green space in 70 locations that have made it to the UK finals of Bloom? Europe?s biggest community gardening campaign ? the judging panel of expert horticulturists will criss-cross the country to visit villages, towns and cities that were selected from nearly 1,000 to represent their region or nation in the UK finals.
Truro (South West), Market Bosworth (East Midlands), Usk (Wales), Filby (Anglia), Bath (South West) and Norton in Hales (Heart of England) will this year be competing for the title of Champion of Champions, the ultimate Britain in Bloom award.
Judges take into consideration three key criteria; horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility, demonstrated across public spaces such as town or city centres, parks and communal gardens, as well as natural spaces including conservation areas and wildflower meadows. Each group?s final score also takes into account a whole range of complementary factors, from the condition of street furniture to the engagement of young people in Bloom activities.
More than 8,000 volunteers have invested over 150,000 hours to earn a place in this year?s finals, transforming derelict land into community gardens, greening grey spaces, brightening up streets with floral displays, litter-picking and street-tidying, growing produce, and so much more. As part of their commitment to creating green spaces in their communities, the finalists have together planted an astonishing 2,000,000 plants, trees and bulbs over the past year.
Roger Burnett, Chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom judging panel, said: ?Many see Britain in Bloom with the RHS as a competition of floral skill but spectacular displays make up only a small part of the judging criteria. We?re keen to see how the finalists have used public green spaces for the benefit of their communities, supported local wildlife and considered the environment in their efforts. I?m sure my fellow judges would join me in wishing good luck to all the 2015 finalists.?
Andrea Van Sittart, RHS Head of Regional Development, said: ?Britain in Bloom with the RHS celebrates all that?s great about community horticulture ? its power to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together to make a difference in their local area. Without its incredible army of volunteers our streets would be more littered, crime would be likely to increase, parks would be less cared-for and in the 70 communities in this year?s finals alone there would be two million less plants. The finalists should be immensely proud of all they?ve achieved to get this far, and I wish them the very best of luck!?
Britain in Bloom started in 1964 and over 50 years on, is now a UK-wide campaign with a strong focus on environmentally responsible practices, and bringing people together. Finalists work with a number of supporting organisations to transform their communities, from local businesses to schools, hospitals and prisons. Nine of this year?s finalists are working with a nearby prison to encourage horticulture as a means by which inmates can develop new skills while making a rewarding contribution to their wider community.
In fact, more than half of finalists cite the biggest benefit of being involved in Bloom as bringing the community together. 33% said it is having cleaner and greener surroundings, while 27% say increased civic pride is the most notable impact. Other benefits include improved local economies, better profile of area and a reduction in crime and antisocial behaviour.
Each finalist will be awarded a Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver or Bronze medal. There is also an award for best in category, as well as special discretionary awards given for achieving excellence in particular fields. The results will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony in Sunderland on 16 October.