Last week the Royal Horticultural Society announced its annual Britain in Bloom awards.
Leeds did outstandingly well – a gold award for the city as a whole in the Large City category – pipped only by Sunderland as champion here; a silver award for Kippax in the Urban Community category –
and Roundhay Park got star billing – the overall RHS Britain in Bloom Public Park Award – one of the discretionary awards – given to recognize excellence in particular areas.
Roundhay
Britain in Bloom is one of Europe’s largest Horticultural campaigns. More than 1,600 cities, towns, villages and urban communities participate each year, focusing on improving local environmental quality, community participation and, of course, horticultural achievement. Anybody can register a local group and get stuck in straight away.’

Britain in Bloom groups select their activities to meet local needs. Examples include:
• Caring for local parks and squares
• Helping to establish school gardens, run wildlife projects and school food-growing initiatives
• Planting trees and bulbs and creating floral displays in community spaces
• Organising clean up events, repairing street benches and running anti-litter campaigns
• Regenerating unused areas with the involvement of local people
• Creating wildflower meadows and maintaining conservation areas
• Encouraging people to adopt environmentally-aware activities such as recycling, composting and water harvesting.’

Leeds has a thriving ‘in bloom’ network with over 50 groups in communities across the city. They contribute to over 1300 floral displays. Last year, as part of Yorkshire in Bloom, Leeds was named as the winner of the ‘Large City’ category, and was also awarded The Yorkshire Rose Chairman’s award which recognises a community that has made outstanding efforts to promote all aspects of the different ‘in bloom’ campaigns.

For the RHS awards, groups start by taking part in their Region / Nation campaign. Those that do well at this level may then be selected to take part in the UK Finals, which are organised by the RHS.
From the 1,600 communities that take part in the regional campaigns, roughly 80 are selected to go into the annual UK Finals – RHS Britain in Bloom.
‘Every summer participants are assessed for efforts in three key areas:
• Horticultural achievement
• Community participation
• Environmental responsibility’

In the case of Roundhay, the park award is ‘Presented to the park (including publicly run pay-on-entry parks, gardens and botanic gardens) designed for horticultural excellence, giving delight to the visitor through appropriate planting, high standards of maintenance, including infrastructure, conserving wildlife, cleanliness, features of interest and community involvement.’

Anyone who knows the park can vouch for the fact that it excels at all this.

Leeds’ success in three categories is real achievement.
And it’s been a truly communal, co-operative effort.
As Mark Dobson, who has responsibility for cleaner, safer and stronger communities in Leeds, put it.
“I would personally like to thank all of our in bloom groups across Leeds, local businesses and our dedicated and skilful Leeds City Council staff from many departments and teams, who do so much, day in day out, to keep our communities looking so great.”

We’d join in that – and in special congratulations to Roundhay Park – even though it’s not in Leeds North West! We’re not parochial – well, not that parochial, anyway. . .

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