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Britain's Grassroots Gardeners Go for Gold

27 July 2012
Britain's Grassroots Gardeners Go for Gold

Over a period of just two weeks, fourteen Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Judges will be assessing over 1,100 acres of public space to find Britain’s most beautiful and environmentally responsible locations, in the ultimate gardening challenge.

The 72 finalists were picked from several thousand entries in RHS Britain in Bloom 2012, the UK’s biggest environmental campaign, and will be making final preparations for the tour which begins on 30 July until 10 August.

From major industrial cities like Wigan and Leeds to small villages such as Bray and Scarva, each finalist represents its region/nation and aims to impress the RHS Britain in Bloom National Judges and win its category1. Judges assess horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility. Projects to be assessed include wildlife conservation areas and public spaces such as parks and community gardens. Everything from the sustainability of a planting scheme to the cleanliness of a street bench, including how much the community engages local schools, will come under inspection.

Roger Burnett, Chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom UK Judging Panel, said: “Our finalists have had to endure difficult weather conditions and ongoing council cuts. But this is why I’m even more excited than normal, because I love seeing the imaginative ways communities overcome challenges. It was reported that groups were pulling out of Britain in Bloom because of these problems but, in fact, we’ve had a ten percent increase in the number of groups signing up, making it a record year for ‘Bloom’. Nothing fazes our volunteers and RHS Britain in Bloom 2012 represents a sense of community spirit and endeavor which is an inspiration to us all.”

With Roger at the helm, there are seven pairs of RHS Britain in Bloom National Judges2. Together they will travel the length and breadth of the UK and meet thousands of volunteers over a two-week period. The judges will be assessing many hundreds of community projects, checking whether these projects are environmentally responsible as well as visually impactful and beneficial to the community.

Each year, an estimated 200,000 volunteers contribute an average of around 44 hours per person to local Britain in Bloom activities. These volunteers – nearly three times the number involved in that London-based sporting event coming up – plant hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs and plants to green-up and clean-up more than a million acres of public space. RHS research3 shows that their work is making an extraordinary difference to both the physical and socio-economic landscape of Britain.

Results will be announced on 6 October 2012 at a prestigious awards ceremony in St Peter Port, Guernsey. Finalists will be awarded RHS Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver or Bronze medals. There is also an award for best in category, as well as special discretionary awards given for achieving excellence in particular fields.