The communities of Morpeth and Warkworth are buzzing this week after final preparations for their inspections in the prestigious national RHS Britain in Bloom awards.
Both communities have been successful in reaching standards fit for national recognition in the ultimate gardening challenge that aims to find Britain’s most beautiful and environmentally responsible locations.
Morpeth is featuring in the competition for the fourth year out of the last five and after Warkworth is taking part again after achieving Silver Gilt in 2011. Each is one of only 72 finalists across the UK that have been chosen from several thousand entries.
Both communities are representing the Northumbria region of the competition – Morpeth in the running for best town with judging taking place yesterday (August 1) and Warkworth for best large village with judging on Monday August 6.
The national judging panel is currently touring the country to judge all of the shortlisted entries – assessing over 1,100 acres of public space and looking at the key themes of horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.
Gillian Turner town clerk at Morpeth said: “Morpeth is once again hoping to gain the elusive title in this national competition. We are so fortunate to have many supporters whose special endeavours mean that there are many new interesting and exciting projects to show the judges, with a great emphasis on sustainability and environmental awareness.
“From new planters made from recycled materials in the Market Place and new trees planted in the William Turner garden, to the transformation of the garden at Benmar House and the usual abundance of hanging baskets and planters, the judges can’t have failed to be impressed.
“All of our partners working together including the schools, many community groups, Chamber of Trade, Heighley Gate Centre, Morpeth Town Council and Northumberland County Council make us a force to be reckoned with!”
Warkworth in Bloom secretary Sandie Taylor added: “Having been awarded Silver Gilt last year, Warkworth in Bloom have once again been invited to take part in the RHS national competition.
“Only half of the marks are given for horticulture, with a quarter awarded for environmental responsibility, including conservation and biodiversity, resource management, local environmental quality and pride of place team. A further quarter of the marks are for community participation.
“Team Warkworth and our hard working and dedicated helpers have been doubling our efforts over the past few weeks to keep the village looking as good as possible for judging day.
“We would like to give special thanks to Northumberland County Council’s neighbourhood services team for their interest, effort and hard work - especially Terry Garnick and Bill Pringle and their colleagues.”
Andy Rutherford, head of highways and neighbourhood services at Northumberland County Council said: “It is a huge accolade for these communities and for Northumberland to achieve such opportunities on a national stage. Even in these austere times the council is pleased to be able to continue to support the efforts of communities who take part in the in bloom competitions.”
More on the Morpeth bid:
The much-admired wooden planters in the Market Square have been replaced by new ones made from recycled plastic containers. Once again, all nine local schools have willingly taken up the challenge to create designs which will be digitally transferred on to the panels.
In a year of ‘commemorations’, Morpeth Lions have planted 40 trees in the William Turner Garden to mark their 40th Anniversary and these are surrounded by many varieties of wildflowers – the 2012 theme for both ‘In Bloom Competitions.
Going wild has proved to be quite exciting and the Morpeth Soroptimists have planted another double helix of tete-a-tete daffodils and scilla, and an abundance of wildflowers will be appearing at Deuchar Park, Leslie’s View and St James’ Church.
On Morpeth Fair Day, wildflower seeds were handed out to children, so we could see some interesting and colourful schemes appearing around the town during summer.
An exciting transformation of the garden at Benmar House (MS Research and Relief Fund) is underway. Following additional ‘strength training’ by way of hard digging by players of Morpeth Rugby Club, the Society’s symbol of hope and regeneration was planted – the beautiful purple aster. Flowering in early autumn, there will be a pretty display when most other blooms are fading. The garden will not be short of colour during summer, though, as their cleverly-designed petal beds will also contain wildflowers from Britain and other parts of the world.
And of course, Morpeth has its stalwarts such as Carlisle Park (this, too, will have special insect-attracting flowers in the new Butterfly Bed), Millennium Green and the Rotary Garden, the allotments, and the usual abundance of hanging baskets and planters.
With gardening help from inmates from HMP Northumberland (who will also make some new planters for us), and a specially-designed postcard from pupils of Stobhillgate to remind people of the two competitions, the many community groups, Chamber of Trade, Heighley Gate and Morpeth Town Council and Northumberland County Councils will be a formidable
More about the Warkworth bid:
Warkworth in Bloom applied for and won a prestigious Elspeth Thompson Bursary earlier this year, which is administered by the National Gardens Scheme in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. This is the first year the Bursary has been awarded and only five out of around 300 entries nationally were successful.
To be recognised by such august institutions was a great boost to Warkworth in Bloom and the Bursary allowed the group to continue with the redevelopment of The Millennium Garden Diamond Jubilee Beds.