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RHS puts sustainability at heart of UK’s biggest gardening competition

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is to oversee changes to its Britain in Bloom community gardening competition that will help groups to have a positive impact on the environment.
 

When the UK Finals competition returns in 2022 after a two-year hiatus, changes to the judging criteria will encourage groups to enact tweaks and changes that will benefit both people and planet, including promoting biodiversity across all areas of their work and employing planet friendly gardening practices. This includes:
 
  • Prioritising perennial or pollinator-friendly plants where appropriate. If annual bedding is used, groups should consider their use and provenance;
  • Considering the needs of wildlife when maintaining areas, for example avoiding hedge trimming in nesting season or leaving grass longer at certain times of the year to support invertebrates;
  • Eliminating the use of peat, for example in propagating and raising plants;
  • Minimising water use and reducing reliance on mains water supplies;
  • Opting for plants that are less susceptible to pest and disease and swapping chemicals for biological and cultural controls where needed, such as attracting insects to manage pest problems and hand weeding;
  • Identifying and tackling local environmental issues using plants, for example planting hedges along main roads to capture particulate pollution.

Full details of the changes are being shared with community gardening groups that compete within the Britain in Bloom regional programmes across the UK. The highest performing groups in each Bloom region are nominated to take part in the UK finals. 2022’s finalists will be announced early in the new year.

The changes to the judging criteria reflect what Britain in Bloom groups’ report as their main motivation with 91% saying they participate to improve their local environment.1 This includes planting to combat pollution in urban Walthamstow, mass tree planting to capture carbon in Amersham or planting for wildlife in Dumfries.

Kay Clark, RHS Community Development Manager, said: “The updates to the Britain in Bloom judging criteria bring it into line with what many community gardeners tell us they are already seeking to do – bring about positive change in their local environment for people and planet. The changes will by no means limit the horticulture that will be on show, instead we’re likely to see even more creative and ambitious displays that demonstrate the power of plants.”

In 2019, the judging criteria was updated to give more weight to group’s sustainability credentials but this is the first time in the competition’s 58 year history that the environmental criteria have been so substantially rewritten, and reflects the RHS’ recently launched Planet Friendly Gardening campaign. The campaign is intended to equip the UK’s 30 million gardeners with the knowledge and tools they need to make a meaningful contribution to climate change targets. For more information and greener gardening advice visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardening-for-the-environment

To find RHS community gardening groups in your local area visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/find-a-group

Notes to editors

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For more information please contact Laura Scruby in the RHS press office: [email protected] / 07734 962395
 
Footnotes:
  1. Based on a survey of 500 community gardening groups, 91% of Britain in Bloom groups reported being motivated by improving the environment for biodiversity, plants, wildlife and their habitats. The survey was conducted on behalf of the RHS in October 2021.

About Britain in Bloom with the RHS
  • UK’s biggest community gardening campaign involves around 3,500 community groups and hundreds of thousands of local volunteers who work year-round to keep our neighbourhoods and streets green, clean and thriving.
  • Bloom was started by the British Tourist Authority as a way to attract visitors to the UK through floral displays. In 2001, the RHS took over as organisers and have developed the campaign to include greater focus on community participation and environmental responsibility.
  • In 2006, the RHS launched a new grass roots level for Bloom – It’s Your Neighbourhood (IYN) – which is aimed at small volunteer groups (such as youth groups, ‘Friends of’ groups, etc.)
  • Since 1964, Bloom has evolved from what many saw as a rural hanging basket competition to a major socio-environmental campaign that is improving villages, towns and cities across the UK
For more information about RHS Britain in Bloom visit www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/britain-in-bloom
About the RHS: The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all that we do, from inspirational gardens and shows, through our scientific research, to our education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. We produce key publications, hold a world-class collection of horticultural books and botanical art, and sell the very best plants and gardening gifts.
 
The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform our gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping our flagship RHS Garden Wisley and opening a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, in 2021. We are solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk.
 
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.