The Scottish city of Perth has been awarded top prize and crowned ‘Champion of Champions’ in the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) 55th annual Britain in Bloom community gardening competition.
In the same year that environmental and community efforts were given greater weighting in the judging criteria, the ‘Fair City’ wowed RHS judges with its urban green spaces, pollinator-friendly planting and campaign to raise awareness of and collect plastic waste.
Sustainability is at the heart of Perth’s approach. Parks, gardens and biodiversity hotspots line the River Tay, some of which are designed to mitigate flood risk in what has been Scotland’s second wettest summer on record, and city-wide, many seasonal bedding displays have been swapped for plants including foxgloves, Salvia and flowering shrubs to provide year-round food for bees and other wildlife.
The jewel in the crown is the volunteer-maintained heather collection in Riverside Park, featuring over 500 varieties and beloved by insects including the buff-tailed bumblebee. Grey streets have also been transformed with colourful council-installed mini parks known as ‘parklets’ and 700 hanging baskets sponsored by local businesses.
Perth fought off four other contenders to win - Durham, Kingsbridge in Devon, Castlecaulfield in Northern Ireland and St Helier in Jersey – with a total of 68 communities competing across 12 categories that include best village, urban community and city. Each is nominated for the UK finals based on their regional success and judged on their horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility, taking home either a gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze medal.
The exceptional standard of Perth’s entry also earned them a gold medal and discretionary award for the quality of Riverside Park. Three other category wins make Scotland the most successful competing nation or region in 2019: Bridge of Earn won the Large Village category, Haddington scooped the Town prize and St Andrews walked away with the Coastal award.
Community food growing, use of upcycled materials and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing were popular themes in this year’s competition with Bath’s Business Improvement District (BID) bursting with edibles such as herbs and salad crops, vibrant floral displays made by children from plastic collected during beach clean-ups in St Helier and a large-scale lunar landscape of low-growing plants in Oldham.
Perth were presented with their trophy at the RHS Britain in Bloom 2019 awards ceremony, held last night at the RHS Lindley Hall in London.
For more information about RHS Britain in Bloom visit www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/britain-in-bloom