Elswick in Bloom, from Lancashire, has been awarded the top prize of ‘Champion of Champions’ in the 53rd year of this prestigious UK-wide gardening competition.
Elswick in Bloom was presented with the coveted award at the 2017 RHS Britain in Bloom ceremony last night, alongside other successful winners. The event was hosted by TV presenter and garden designer, James Alexander-Sinclair. This year, 78 Britain in Bloom groups were chosen to fly the flag for their region or nation in the competition following success in their respective areas last year.
Impactful displays, attention to detail and a 1,000 strong supporter base
Elswick in Bloom represented the North West region, battling against Aberdeen, Harrogate, Hillsborough in Ulster, Oldham, Portishead and St Peter Port in Guernsey to scoop the award. The coveted ‘Champion of Champions’ title recognised the former agricultural village as one of the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful places in Britain in 2017.
Their entry impressed the RHS judges with their bold floral displays, community participation and environmental responsibility. The group successfully re-created a community orchard with fruit trees and bee hives, re-planted native primroses, crocus corms, tulips and bluebell bulbs, and installed bird boxes and bug hotels to support local wildlife. An innovative recycling scheme made use of discarded Christmas trees to help stabilize sand dunes on the nearby coast.
Roger Burnett, Chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom judges, said:
“It’s clear that for the people of Elswick, Britain in Bloom is not only a competition but a way of life. The group's entry was fantastic, very well thought through and of the highest standard. To be awarded Champion of Champions is a tremendous achievement. Elswick in Bloom's many volunteers should be applauded for how they’ve turned the village round into somewhere that is clean, green, beautiful and a source of pride for the whole community.”
2017 Discretionary Awards
At the UK Finals, discretionary awards are given to recognise excellence in specific areas or categories. The winners are:
Involving Young People - Winner
Brighter Bothwell, Scotland: The judges applauded Bothwell's entry as an outstanding example of how to engage children and young people in horticulture as a way to help them learn about nature, growing and the environment.
Wild About Gardens - Winner
Newcastle Under Lyme, Heart of England: The judges were impressed by the extensive wildflower and pollinator beds throughout the small city, in line with the Wild About Gardens campaign, run by the RHS in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts. The group also successfully encouraged its partners and the community to join in its efforts to create habitats for bees and other wildlife.
Gardening In A Changing Climate - Winner
Bothwell Community Garden, Scotland: Singled out by the judges for its commitment to the advice in the RHS Gardening in a Changing Climate report, just some of the practices Bothwell Community Garden employs include: the wide use of renewable energy, water conservation and the reuse of materials. In addition, the garden has an all-organic policy, reuses its green waste and keeps bees.
Bury in Bloom, North West: The judges were inspired by the way Bury in Bloom has managed to tackle vandalism 'head-on' with un-wavering resolve.
Forres in Bloom, Scotland: Forres adapted to the major challenge of its local plant and gardening materials supplier closing. The group decided to take on the job itself: growing, planting and maintaining over 30,000 bedding plants in a small nursery to enable Forres in Bloom to continue.
Parks and Green Spaces - Winner
Seaton Park, Aberdeen, Scotland: The judges noted that in addition to the look and feel of a 'pristine park', Seaton Park includes a range of flood mitigation measures, 'an impressive range of trees and shrubs across the whole park, wide successional planting and some outstanding specimen trees.' It also hosts a suite of activities to suit people from all parts of the community.
Growing Communities - Joint Winners
Oldham, North West: Oldham employed a holistic programme of community involvement, known as Bloom and Grow, which was lauded by the judges for reaching people from across the area, including those that wouldn't typically consider themselves gardeners. Oldham also has a range of 'growing hubs', including food growing initiatives in local parks, garden competitions, a Love Where You Live campaign and 'fruit commuter routes'.
Walthamstow, London: Walthamstow was applauded as a prime example of team-work to transform a once anti-social and run-down village into a truly growing community. A public vegetable plot, meadow, orchard, village square and community shop, are also widely accessible and enjoy the support of local businesses and residents.