Leeds will be aiming for the top this week as the city is assessed for the national title in the prestigious Britain in Bloom Awards.
Parks and green spaces across the city will be visited by judges from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) on Friday 3 August as Leeds looks to win the top prize for the first time ever after winning a silver medal two years ago.
Along with Birmingham, Sunderland, Wigan and Hillingdon, Leeds is one of five finalists in the ‘large city’ category of the annual competition organised by the RHS which rewards horticultural and environmental excellence.
The city was nominated for the national awards due to its success in winning Yorkshire in Bloom last year, and will be looking to go one better than 2010 when it was last nominated at national level.
The city’s bid is being managed by Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside service, with support from sponsors Evans Property Group, Ford and Warren Solicitors and My Hermes.
During their visit this week the RHS judges will be looking for evidence of horticultural achievement as well as community engagement and responsible handling of environmental issues.
The visit will begin with a welcome by Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Ann Castle before taking in take in the city centre including Mandela Gardens off Millennium Square and the ‘take heart’ garden at Leeds General Infirmary. It will then move on to St George’s Crypt to meet the volunteers who manage the garden there, before heading to Victoria Gardens, St John’s Church and the Victoria Quarter.
The group will then head out of the city centre arriving in Woodlesford by train to see the work that has been carried out to improve the environment around the station in a partnership by Leeds City Council’s youth justice team, Metro and Northern Rail where young people have been actively engaged in clearing away weeds and litter, painting the cycle sheds and washing down the noticeboards.
The tour continues with a meeting with the Woodlesford in Bloom team who have worked with British Waterways to transform a derelict area of land into a community orchard, before heading through the Wykebeck Valley to see area where wildflower meadows are being developed to encourage bees and butterflies.
The visit will end at Roundhay Park, where the group will meet the Friends of Roundhay Park and see the ‘Gardens of the World’ section which features four Leeds show garden entries at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, including the back-to-back gold medal winners from 2010 and 2011.
Evidence of all areas of the community coming together in support of the Leeds entry will be on show, as schools in Leeds submitted designs for a promotional poster to be displayed in shops on the judging route, while the young people who won this year’s design a flowerbed will also be introduced to the judges.
Businesses are also playing their part, with many providing their own using colourful window boxes and hanging baskets, while residents who enter the annual Leeds in Bloom gardens competition will also be displaying posters in their homes promoting the campaign.
Leeds City Council executive member for the environment Councillor Mark Dobson said:
“We are looking forward to welcoming the Britain in Bloom judges to Leeds this week and we hope they will be impressed by what they see. A huge amount of work goes into keeping parks and green spaces in Leeds looking the best they can. This is carried out by the council’s parks and countryside service along with friends of groups, In Bloom groups and community groups who give up their time for free and are real unsung heroes.
“It would be fantastic to see all their efforts rewarded with the top prize and would be a brilliant achievement for Leeds to be officially recognised as the best in the country.”
The results of the RHS Britain in Bloom 2012 Awards will be announced in October. For further information on the Britain in Bloom competition, visit the website at www.rhs.org.uk/britaininbloom
Notes to editors:
RHS Britain in Bloom is the nation’s largest environmental campaign and involves more than 200,000 volunteers. Last year, the RHS released a report showing how the campaign is making a major difference to the social, environmental and economic health of the country. Examples of key findings are that community gardening reduces crime and encourages social cohesion.
Started in 1964 by the British Tourist Authority as a way of marketing the nation through floral displays, today RHS Britain in Bloom is a campaign that brings communities together to enhance the look, feel and pride of a place, through gardening and environmental projects.
For more information about the RHS, visit www.rhs.org.uk
For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472