Crowds of excited residents gathered in Usk, Wales on 3 July, to greet HRH The Duchess of Cornwall when she visited the town to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the UK’s biggest community gardening campaign, RHS Britain in Bloom.
The Duchess was given a tour of local projects and met volunteers who over the years have done an extraordinary job keeping the town looking green, clean and beautiful. Usk in Bloom chairman Tony Kear took HRH on a tour which included a visit to a school allotment where she met pupils and planted an apple tree.
Eight year old Bloom volunteer Lucy Kear presented HRH with a bouquet of sunflowers to highlight the 2014 theme of the campaign - ‘Growing for Gold’ – which saw half a million pollinator-friendly sunflower seeds sown in public spaces across Britain this April.
The unveiling of a butterfly sculpture signified the end of HRH's visit to the town. The sculpture, a symbol of the way Bloom has evolved from a floral competition to the environmental campaign it is today, will act as a permanent reminder of this special visit.
Jekka McVicar, RHS Council, said: “What an absolute pleasure it was joining HRH Duchess of Cornwall on her tour of Usk – I know this special day will stay long in the memories of those who attended. Indeed, her visit was a gesture of thanks to the 300,000 volunteers in towns, villages and cities across Britain who last year invested more than ten million hours to keeping our streets and neighbourhoods beautiful, thriving and friendly places to live and visit”
Usk in Bloom Chair Tony Kear commented: "We were extremely honoured and delighted to have been asked by the RHS to host the Duchess; what a wonderful lady she is taking the time to talk to as many people as she did. I know our volunteers both past and present as well as our partners were incredibly excited at the visit and it was my privilege on their behalf to showcase Usk at its very best."
Next week, at the world’s largest annual flower show - RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (8-13 July) a 400 square metre garden will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the campaign and show how it has changed since it started in 1964 as a way to market the UK through floral displays.
Growing for Gold in 2014
To launch the 2014 RHS Britain in Bloom campaign and to celebrate Bloom’s golden anniversary, the RHS encouraged community groups across the UK to plant golden pollinator-friendly flowers in public spaces. The RHS sent out more than 500,000 sunflower seeds to Britain in Bloom community groups across the UK to plant in their neighbourhoods.
If you are not involved in any of these campaigns but would like to find out more, please contact the Community Horticulture team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 020 7821 3069.
Support and resources
Advice about growing sunflowers
Find other golden plants that are also Perfect for Pollinators
See a useful template for creating a press release
Templates for A3 poster / A4 poster / leaflet
Attract new volunteers by adding your event to the National Gardening Week website: www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk
Find out how to join in with your local group, or sign up your own group to take part in the campaigns.