A growing number of gardening groups competing in this year’s RHS Britain in Bloom competition are prioritising the regeneration of urban areas as communities recognise the value of green spaces to people and planet.
Now in its 56th year, 70 competition finalists will be going all-out to showcase their horticultural skills, community and environmental efforts. Finalists are put forward to the national final based on their progress regionally and compete across 11 categories including village, town and coastal.
Each will be visited by a pair of RHS judges in August as they vie for a medal, a category win and to be named Champion of Champions.
Nearly two-thirds are participating in town, city or other urban categories, reflecting growing recognition of the importance of plants and green space for both wellbeing and the environment.
This includes the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Town and City Centres category which has seen a surge in entries since it was introduced two years ago. Leeds, Blackburn and Paddington, London, are among the ten finalists that will be greening central shopping and business hubs by increasing the number of plants to help mitigate urban pollution, flooding and temperature rises and boost footfall and lower vacancy rates.
Last year, the competition was won by the Scottish city of Perth which impressed with its whole-community approach to sustainability, pollinator-friendly planting and campaign to raise awareness of and collect plastic waste.
Chair of the Britain in Bloom judging panel, Darren Share, said: “We’re noticing more towns and cities keen to tackle some of today’s most pressing challenges by tapping into the benefits of urban greening, with reasons ranging from concerns about our changing climate and air pollution to turning the tide on high street decline.”
John Summers OBE, Chair of Beautiful Perth, said: “Winning the Champion of Champions award has meant a great deal to everyone in Perth. We have had so many comments about how clean and green our city looks, and what a positive impact that has on the local economy and quality of life. Winning really has boosted pride in our Fair City of Perth.”
The Champion of Champions title, winners of each category and finalists’ medals – ranging from gold to bronze – will be announced in Manchester in October.