Wales in Bloom

March 21st, 2019

Villages and towns across the country are getting ready for the annual festival of all things floral – in a bid to impress the judges of this year’s Wales in Bloom contests.

The judges of the Wales in Bloom competition are set to have a very busy summer. They will travel to the corners of the country and back in a bid to find the deserved winners of this prestigious competition and highly desired prize. In a range of different categories, from tiny village to urban sprawl, as well as smaller categories for small businesses such as caravan parks and hotels.

Image by Seba Szy

A floral history

Wales in Bloom is a regional event that falls under the national Britain in Bloom contest, organised each year by the Royal Horticultural Society and designed to encourage community spirit and pride in local areas.

The competition began in the 1960’s, after Roy Hay, a renowned horticultural author and journalist, visited France on a summer holiday. He found that the streets, public gardens, towns and villages were beautifully decorated with flowers, shrubs and trees as part of the Fleurissement de France; an initiative to cheer up and enliven the whole country.

Roy Hay was captivated by the idea and suggested it to the British Tourist Authority, and so the Britain in Bloom awards were born.

Today, the competition is one of the largest horticultural campaigns in Europe, with over a thousand communities across the UK participating and it is thought that up to 9,000 people across the country get involved and volunteer for their local action groups.

Growing communities, not just flowers

Horticulture and gardening have always been at the heart of the Wales in Bloom principles, but today judging goes well beyond pretty hanging baskets on the high street. Participants are asked to consider the values of “Environmental Responsibility” and “Community Participation”, as well as “Horticultural Achievement”, so that the awards embrace many different aspects of modern living.

Communities that enter the competition also tackle such issues as litter, graffiti, anti-social behaviour, conservation and sustainability. Many organising committees also work with local groups such as youth clubs, community service groups and charities that help adults with learning difficulties or mental health illnesses. The idea of the competition is to have a real positive impact on residents’ sense of pride about their neighbourhood, as well as community spirit, acceptance and integration.

It’s this sense of community spirit and neighbourly goodwill that is one of the most important philosophies in the Wales in Bloom criteria, which in turn fosters civic pride and a pleasant community, not to mention a draw for tourists.

image by Mira Pavlakovic

Brighten the Budget

In times of recession and government cut-backs, community initiatives like Wales in Bloom are often overlooked and deemed as non-essential spending, but perhaps initiatives like Wales in Bloom are even more important at times of economic hardship, and that the contributions by committee members and the volunteers are invaluable when council funds are squeezed.

And it would appear that many communities across the UK agree. Participation in the Britain in Bloom awards have increased by over 40% in the last three years, as local groups join together to make the best of their area. It seems that a gloomy national bank balance doesn’t have to mean gloomy town parks.

Why not give it a go……..

If you think your town or village can work towards one of the Wales in Bloom titles, then you can find details of how to enter this year’s competition at www.walesinbloom.org

How to get started

·         Form an action group – find like-minded members of the community who are committed to organising a local campaign

·         Put together a plan – decide on projects, local groups to involve and how to achieve your goals.

·         Ask your local community for support – make sure the local community are aware of the campaign and involve them in ideas, planning and decisions. The local press can be a good way to spread the word.

·         Develop a fundraising plan – Every campaign needs funding so think of ways to raise money

·         Register – don’t forget to register with Wales in Bloom and carefully follow all requirements and details for entering. Closing date for 2019 entries in 3rd May.