Nick Knowles - one of our best-loved TV presenters – is joining multi-RHS Gold medallist Adam Frost to sow sunflowers at a transformed alleyway in Liverpool at 9.30am on Monday 14 April to launch RHS Britain in Bloom 2014 which is providing half a million sunflower seeds to be sown across Britain that week.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s biggest community gardening campaign*, thousands of Bloom groups across the UK are holding sunflower-sowing parties and events throughout National Gardening Week so by the summer our public green spaces will be awash with gold, providing vital food for insects.
Nick and Adam will showcase the transformational impact of Bloom by shining a spotlight on an alleyway that two Bloomers have turned from a dangerous and derelict space used by burglars, drug dealers and fly-tippers into their very own community garden.
“There were needles everywhere, mattresses, smashed glass, dog-muck, empty beer cans – basically anything that could be thrown out found its way there – it was filthy and a dangerous place to be, especially for the local children,” said local resident, Irene Humphreys.
Irene and Audrey, known locally as the ‘glamorous, gardening grannies’, began by filling a bathtub with flowers and it has since become a plant paradise; a safe haven where the community relax. Irene and Audrey have won a number of RHS Britain in Bloom awards for their community garden. “Bloom has helped us to change this space beyond all recognition,” said Irene.
Nick Knowles, RHS Ambassador for community gardening, said: “RHS Britain in Bloom involves nearly 300,000 extraordinary people who are transforming spaces all over the UK. It’s so important to champion projects like this so even more people will be inspired to do the same in their own community. It’s incredible the difference they’ve made and the sense of community that’s developed from what used to be a really threatening area to live. Fear for the area has turned to pride and what could be better than that?”
“It’s good to know over the last year, Bloomers have transformed nearly 2,000 football-pitches worth of derelict land into usable community spaces. I’ve always believed passionately in community gardening and this is why I love the Bloom ethos – it’s all about the people,” said Nick.
Adam Frost, who has won three consecutive Gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, joined Audrey and Irene with two of his horticultural apprentices on Sunday 13 April for a gardening session with plants donated by Homebase.**
Adam was inspired by what he saw: “Audrey and Irene have proven that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a garden, all you need is a bit of creativity and enough passion to make a difference to where you live. It’s inspiring to see how powerful gardening can be to bring communities together and improve lives and it’s fantastic that this has been going on all over Britain since the early 60s. That begs the question: What state would our streets and neighbourhoods be in if it wasn’t for people like Irene and Audrey? The great thing is, too, that you don’t need a Chelsea gold medal to join Bloom either – anybody can make a difference to their community.”
Stephanie Eynon, RHS Community Horticulture Manager, said: “We’re delighted Nick and Adam are helping launch the campaign in such a special year. Throughout National Gardening Week, many of the 3,000 or so Bloom groups and 18,500 schools in our Campaign for School Gardening will be sowing pollinator-friendly sunflowers to brighten up streets, neighbourhoods and public areas, and provide food for insects. I’m looking forward to seeing swaths of gold this summer.”
As well as Bloom celebrations, throughout National Gardening Week (14-20 April) organisations, charities and individuals will be holding gardening events. To see events or register your own: www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk
Anybody can set-up their own Bloom group or join their nearest for free by visiting: www.rhs.org.uk/getinvolved