L A R G E C I T Y
Milton Keynes - Silver Award and category winner
Milton Keynes is a model ‘Green City’, and is to be congratulated for maintaining and planning for the future of the extensive structure planting that creates a ‘Green Lung’. Communities within the city continue to thrive, and the Open University Campus is a jewel of Horticultural excellence and innovation. The extensive Parks are well maintained, and the Parks Trust is a sustainable model that many other towns and cities will look at with envy. Wildlife conservation is an important part of what the City is about and looks well set for the future.
C I T I E S
Oxford - Gold
There are some excellent projects taking place within the City that are enhancing the environment for residents and visitors alike.
The parks and gardens offer spaces in which people can sit quietly, walk their dogs, participate in sport, appreciate plants and wildlife, or, for all generations to play.
It is apparent that there are many people in Oxford who are intent on making life better for others either as part of their paid work or through voluntary activities.
The range of wildlife projects is obviously proving beneficial as the numbers of wild plants, insects, bees and small mammals are increasing.
Reading - Silver Gilt
The City of Reading is a pleasure to judge with its diverse range of sites, features and initiatives matching the Bloom criteria of horticulture, environment and community involvement.
It was interesting to meet the many volunteers who showed off the areas that we visited with great enthusiasm.
Thank you to them for giving up their time to assist us in our judging.
S M A L L C I T I E S
Bracknell - Gold and category winner (the only entry in this category)
The huge efforts put in by Bracknell in Bloom and its partners continue to make Bracknell a pleasure to judge and visit. You would be mistaken in believing that while the town centre is being redeveloped that there is little to see and experience.
The obvious care taken in looking after the public realm is also evident with both neat and tidy verges and parks and also a number of real high points dotted around the town.
The works undertaken by the Bloom group are clearly underpinned by very strong sponsorship and support from local businesses. Quite rightly, Bracknell is proud of its reputation that when somebody moves to the town, they are unlikely to wish to leave.
Chesham - Gold
Chesham is in a lovely setting within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Town centre is attractive, well cared for and vibrant with a range of shops and businesses, and the recently refurbished Market Square with the Bell Tower is a real focal point. Outside the immediate Town centre there are some real surprises such as the Swim and Gym, but also historic streets with lovely front gardens, and open spaces including Lowndes Park and the Meades Water Gardens – both providing for people and wildlife.
The Chesham in Bloom Group has done exceptionally well in encouraging all sectors of the community – public, private and commercial – to work together to improve the Town. The results of this are evident, and all should be congratulated for what they have achieved. There are plans in place to get even more people involved, and to improve and enhance other parts of the Town, for the benefit of all those who live, work and visit the Town.
Newport Pagnell - Silver Gilt
A very warm welcome awaited us from the Newport Pagnell Bloom Group headed up by the Town Council but with support from a range of local groups and volunteers.
There is clearly a lot of pride in this attractive and historic Town, hanging baskets fill the Town Centre with colour, and many shops, businesses and pubs are making a special effort.
A most interesting tour which displayed the rich heritage of the Town, and the wide range of people and groups who are contributing to improving the local environment in various ways, making Newport Pagnell a great place to live, work or visit.
Wokingham - Silver Gilt
Despite rather unpleasant weather on the judging day, the Wokingham in Bloom group had organised a very concise, well planned and highly interesting tour. The huge efforts put in by Wokingham in Bloom members continue to make Wokingham a pleasure to judge and visit.
2015 sees Wokingham consolidate and underpin a very sustainable Bloom initiative, this is reflected by the age range of its members, from the youngest to the most senior members of the community.
The works undertaken by the Boom group are clearly based onstrong community support, which is facilitated by Town Council Officers and supported by elected members.
A very strong entry for 2015, well done Wokingham in Bloom
T O W N S
Henley-on Thames - Gold and category winner
Once again Henley-on-Thames made a vibrant, visual impact on the judges. The stunning river frontage, the well managed Mill and Marsh Meadows, the floral displays throughout the town - it is impossible to mention all the highlights of this well supported Henley in Bloom project, but the displays in the Market Place, the Three Horseshoes Public House and the work of the Garden Buddies in the Sensory, Twinning and Rotary beds stood out. The presentation and the itinerary demonstrated to the judges Henley's ability in meeting the criteria in all three sections of the Britain in Bloom campaign.
Amersham - Gold
Another excellent entry from Amersham this year, building on recent successes. The impact of the various ornamental planting schemes, both those from the Council and also the individual businesses and gardens, was very welcoming for visitors, and demonstrated the town’s very evident Pride of Place.
The judges like the way that Amersham has embraced the RHS theme 'Great Green Spaces' in their provision and maintenance of their parks and other public places, particularly the new orchard at Pondwicks Meadow.
The wealth of voluntary support for the Bloom, not only the Street Buddies, but also the schoolchildren and 11 other community groups.
Kidlington - Silver Gilt
Kidlington has chosen very cheerful colours for this year’s displays, welcoming visitors to Exeter Hall, and also to the Piazza and other commercial areas in the village, showing effective partnership work between the Parish and Cherwell District Councils. The attractive displays provided by the Garden society are more sustainable than in previous years.
The judges were struck by the overall cleanliness of Kidlington, and this is enhanced by the improved standard of grass maintenance throughout, introduced this year following a consultation with residents.
North Kidlington school, with it’s attractive floral wheelbarrows, and wonderful wild garden; the contribution by a range of voluntary groups; the evidence-based approach to future management of St Mary’s Churchyard, and the new cemetery all add to the pleasure of a visit to Kidlington.
Princes Risborough - Silver
The Thames and Chilterns Region warmly welcome Princes Risborough as a new entrant to the RHS Britain in Bloom campaign.
Congratulations to Princes Risborough who in just two months put together a very creditable entry to Britain in Bloom, building on the solid foundations of their existing floral and historic features. The town is clean and well presented, despite having to take over grass cutting from the County Council, and shows great promise for progression within the Bloom initiative in the future.
Particular features that impressed the judges were The Stratton Memorial Gardens, some of the front gardens in Monks Risborough and visiting Whiteleaf Cross Nature Reserve.
S M A L L T O W N S
Goring Gap - Gold and category winner
The Goring Gap community, while split between two counties, obviously take great pride in their environment; the two villages could easily be one connected by the Goring and Streatley Bridge. Quite rightly, the villages are a popular destination served by some lovely pubs and hotels along with fantastic walks and a rich history.
As well as their charming character, there is strong community spirit and some high quality nature reserves that are well worth a visit.
Stony Stratford - Silver Gilt
The obvious enthusiasm and passion that the Bloom group have for looking after their town is reflected in many aspects of Stony Stratford. The historic nature of this old coaching town is celebrated by those who live and work there, and enhanced by good interpretation providing that little bit more for both visitors and residents alike.
There is a real sense of place reinforced by the co-ordinated and high quality gateway markers with floral displays around the stone engraved centre pieces.
This is a thriving community with a large number of events programmed throughout the year providing both activities for people and improving the quality of the environment.
Cookham Rise - Silver
Cookham Rise, one of the three Cookham villages has developed around the railway with a small village centre and thriving community. The Parish Council is to be congratulated on their return to the Britain in Bloom initiative and we look forward to seeing how they continue to develop in the future.
The primary school forms an integral part of the community, encouraging the children to look out towards the world around them, and local residents to witness the exciting activities taking place within.
U R B A N C O M M U N I T Y
Wolverton & Greenleys - Silver Gilt and category winner
The Judges were impressed with a well timed tour incorporating a good DVD presentation. A wide range of features and projects were shown, demonstrating a high level of commitment to and volunteer involvement in the local Bloom campaign.
L A R G E V I L L A G E
Sadly we had no entries in this category this year.
V I L L A G E S
Cookham - Silver Gilt and category winner
This attractive riverside village is fortunate to have many green areas which are well maintained. The High Street was colourful with many businesses taking part with displays on their frontages.
A most interesting and informative tour incorporating many parts of Cookham which have not previously been shown on a Bloom tour.
Cookham Dean - Silver Gilt
This pretty rural village is set amid National Trust commons. The Cookham team gave an interesting.
Simpson - Silver Gilt
Simpson is a picturesque village located within the boundaries of Milton Keynes New Town. Despite this, it has managed to retain both its village identity and sense of community, from which has come a host of enthusiastic volunteers, who daily perform 'Bloom' tasks to such a good standard, that they are an example for other communities to follow.
S M A L L V I L L A G E
Bray - Gold and category winner
The coordinating floral displays in Bray are a 'feast for the eyes' through their abundance and vibrancy, their impact enhancing the village and lifting the spirits of both residents and visitors.
The presentation and itinerary demonstrated the horticultural, environmental and community activities, also the achievements of Bray in Bloom throughout the year, organised by the Bray Enhancement Committee. The village is clean, litter free and maintained to a high standard, community spirit and 'Pride of Place' are evident in Bray.
T O W N C E N T R E
Woodley - Silver
This was a trial award category that we introduced to Thames and Chiltern in Bloom last year, it uses our standard Bloom judging criteria in a slightly modified form. As it was successful it has been decided to keep it in.
This year, Woodley was our only entrant.
Woodley Town Centre is fortunate to have many attractive trees, and the many colourful baskets further enhance the area. Together with other features such as seating areas, and the play area with its canopy, this makes this a welcoming Town Centre which seems to be thriving.
The Town Centre Management Initiative, now in its 10th year, is a strong partnership which has clearly made a big difference to Woodley, not least due to the enthusiastic and innovative Town Centre Manager. Support from more of the local businesses and traders would help the Initiative achieve even more, for the benefit of all.
B U S I N E S S I M P R O V E M E N T D I S T R I C T
Reading - Silver
The Reading Business Improvement District (BID) has achieved much since starting out in 2005 and is now in it's second term. Reading is a thriving town with as many people commuting in to work as commute out. It's redeveloped railway station and modern bus network aid this together with a Readybike hire scheme. All this along with a strong retail sector contributes to a lively, buzzy town centre.
Working within this context the BID takes a proactive approach to the management of the town centre environment gaining support from the Local Authority, businesses and associated organisations resulting in many improvements across the sprectrum from floral displays, recycling initiatives to management of the public realm to dealing with anti social behaviour.
Reading as well as growing its commerce sector is also aiming to increase its residential population significantly. Looking to the future the BID team recognises the challenges that this will bring and the different needs of the two groups and so to that end is intending to put together two BID groups to cater for those different needs.
High Wycombe - Silver
High Wycombe BID have shown innovation with the introduction of the large pink pots, eachplanted with pink themed bedding, complimentary to their logo, and containing a fruit tree. They have further engaged an artist to paint a steam engine wall mural recognising the heritage of an historic railway building by the Station.
Planting provides attractive entrances to the town centre such as Frogmoor beds at the Clockhouse, Queen Victoria Street bedding, Church Street and meadows at Buckinghamshire New University.
The wider community such as Disraeli School have been engaged with these projects and activities have been promoted through their newsletter to 50,000 households throughout the town.
They have further exciting aspirations such as using the concrete sides of a raised road for greenwalls and using a stretch of it that divides the town centre as an aerial parkway that would greatly enhance the town centre.
R H S P A R K S A W A R D S
Chesham Lowndes - Silver Gilt
A real “something for everyone” Park, Well presented and multifaceted, the Park is a wonderful Oasis in a vibrant and busy town. The benefits of community participation are evident from the bio diversity of the natural conservation areas to the more formal horticultural displays.. There is tangible interface between park managers, volunteers and users
Princes Risborough Stratton Memorial Gardens - Silver
These memorial gardens are of an attractive design and planting which together with the good management of the grave spaces creates a peaceful and calming environment. Good use is made of spare land for wildlife conservation.
Bracknell South Hill Park - Gold
A well maintained park featuring a high quality of landscape. The park also features well managed wildlife areas along with cultural focii including an arts centre, cafe, outdoor events area and woodland performance space.
Oxford Wolvercote Cemetery - Gold
This cemetery caters for all sections of the community with relatives and friends of those interred visiting from all over the world. The cemetery has a good variety of trees with a woodland section that provides an alternative option to the traditional headstone burial. This 'green' theme is carried though into the cemetery management with the use of an electric vehicle, green waste recycling for biomass fuels and wildflower meadows.
Oxford Bury Knowle - Silver Gilt
This park demonstrates good community involvement whose groups host a full programme of events throughout the year. The park features wooden structures of interest together with a destination standard play area based on the lion, witch and wardrobe theme.
Oxford Florence Park - Silver Gilt
Another Oxford park demonstrating good community involvement again whose group were actively using it to host events. Of note was the transformation of an old bowling greeen into a new play area and the cafe refurbishment.
T H A M E S A N D C H I L T E R N S - R E G I O N A L A W A R D S
Our Regional Awards have been reviewed and revised this year by the Management Committee to reflect the wording of the National RHS Britain in Bloom scheme
These are always difficult awards to allocate as you all set such high standards across the Region.
Greener Streets:Better Lives
This town has adopted the Regional and National theme with a range of projects which has led to improvements of previously grotty areas, more community involvement and benefits to the health and wellbeing of local residents.
These activities include:
- transforming an overgrown space into a productive garden;
- making a weedy corner into a rose bed;
- creating a pedestrian route alongside a wall, which used to be covered in graffiti, into a border with shrubs and perennials, attractive to both people and wildlife;
- turning thre e unused areas into community gardens, growing fruit and vegetables for everyone and anyone.
Henley-on-Thames receives much support from businesses within the town. They not only sponsor the majority of the 200 hanging baskets but also decorate their premises and are encouraged to keep their front pavements weeded and litter free. Organisations contribute to individual activities including creating a living wall, lending equipment and planting a new shrub bed. One particular project involved the local brewery producing their own Blooming Marvellous beer with a percentage of the profits going towards Bloom funds.
The volunteers in Stony Stratford have a “passion” and “enthusiasm” for all that they do. They work both as individuals and as a team. Within the wider community, there is a breadth of schemes including managed allotments for those with mental and physical difficulties, an allotment café catering for both humans and wildlife not to mention all the smaller beds that have been planted around the town. A strong business involvement and good communication helps to bind the group together.
Conservation and Wildlife
The wildflower meadows in Amersham stood out for the judges this year. The large reserve areas devoted to wildflowers at the lawn cemetery were impressive and colourful, whilst the Willow Wood Wildlife Area will be a resource to educate young people about the natural world and bio-diversity for years to come. The new orchard alongside the river that runs through the town has been designed and managed with wildlife in mind.
Princes Risborough has a wealth of history both within the town and in the surrounding area of which the residents are justifiably proud. The Patent Roll gave authority for The Charter Market and two annual fairs, all of which continue today. Evidence of early life dates back to the Bronze and Iron Ages and continues with a Saxon boundary hedge and the Domesday Book. More recent history includes a memorial to airmen from the Second World War and the Kop Hill Climb for old cars.
Natural history features in the Brush Hill Nature Reserve which is an area of Special Scientific Interest for rare and endangered species.
Caversham Court in Reading
This well-managed site contains high impact floral displays alongside a green area leading down to the River Thames. Examples include the colourful pink, red and white geraniums by the entrance as well as the raised beds of dramatic purple, white and yellow flowers and foliage plants which are alive with bees and insects. The herbaceous borders contain a wide variety of plants that set off the old brickwork behind. The allotments are an excellent example of a joint enterprise between the Council and the Community, in particular with the shared use of the waste and compost areas.
Pride of Place
Kidlington has excelled this year in both the key areas of cleanliness and grass maintenance. An anticipated reduction in the budget for grass cutting led to a consultation with residents on whether they would be prepared to pay a higher precept in order to improve standards. This had a positive result and a new contract was put in place. All the verges are now cut neatly and the residents are delighted with the results.
An effective cleaning contract alongside voluntary support means that standards remain high with virtually no examples of grot whatsoever spotted by the judges.
St Mary's Memorial Park in Old Amersham
These memorial gardens provide a delightfully peaceful spot to sit and relax, within the old town centre. They are laid out with formal bedding in the lawn area with extensive herbaceous plantings and clipped hedges. Most of the maintenance and planting is carried out by the Street Buddies. The installation of several pieces of art work, both serious and more light-hearted, on the theme of Great Events has added to the impact and interest.
M A R K M A T T O C K S C H O O L S C H A L L E N G E A W A R D
Cookham Rise Primary School
The judges were shown round by six enthusiastic pupils from years 3, 4 and 5 who started off by explaining the work behind the vibrant displays linked to their environmental projects. All the classes participate in Eco-Friendly curriculum activities on both local and international themes. The gardening club has come up with some exciting ways to show off their plants including shoes, wellies and cycling helmets. A salad bar veggie trug was designed for a child in a wheelchair. A range of vegetables, fruit and flowers are grown in beds, pots and a globe greenhouse with the produce taken home or given to the cook for use in school lunches. Compost bins, water butts, a bug hotel and a hedgehog kennel all contribute to this environmentally friendly school.