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RHS Britain in Bloom’s city awards go to the Midlands and Manchester

by Lisa Ommanney

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Birmingham in Bloom © RHS

Birmingham, Oldham and Loughborough have triumphed at the RHS Britain in Bloom National Awards, topping the three city categories in the community gardening competition.

Birmingham was awarded a gold medal and won the ‘Large City’ category. Willow sculptures of athletes, inspired by the city’s role as host to the US and Jamaican Olympic teams this summer, helped to secure the win with RHS Judge Rae Beckwith calling them “a bolt of brilliance.”

There was further success for Birmingham’s gardeners: the city’s Cannon Hill Park won the Public Park Award and the city also scooped a discretionary prize for horticulture.

The ‘City’ category was won by Oldham, which was also awarded the Pride of Place gong in recognition of its cleanliness and tidiness. The town’s horticultural highlights included a wildflower meadow created by a local group which supports people recovering from addictions.

First-time UK finalists Loughborough picked up the ‘Small City’ prize, as well as the Community Award. Loughborough in Bloom chairman Andy Rush called the win “staggering” and emphasised that it had been “a real community effort, which virtually started with nothing, but which continues to grow each year, thanks to the work of people from all walks of life in the town.” Local businesses were involved, with hanging basket displays outside many shops and the town’s parks also rose to the challenge – one adventurous arrangement included giant pairs of legs kicking out of the ground, inspired by synchronised swimming.

A record 24 gold medals were awarded this year at a ceremony in St Peter Port, Guernsey on Saturday, based on the criteria of horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility. More than 1,200 communities and more than 200,000 volunteers take part in RHS Britain in Bloom, making it the biggest voluntary campaign in the UK.

Chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom UK Judging Panel, Roger Burnett said: “We had the privilege and pleasure of visiting the most environmentally aware communities in Britain and meeting the wonderful people responsible for them. The best thing about being a judge is meeting the volunteers. They’re hard-working and resilient – whatever’s thrown at them, whether it’s a hose-pipe ban or flooding, they’ll find a way around it.”

Broughshane, in Northern Ireland, was awarded the ultimate community gardening prize, winning the Champion of Champions 2012 award.

A full list of this years winners can be found on the RHS website.

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