Blackburn is greening for gold in national competition

Published Tuesday 24 August 2021 at 13:26

Partners and volunteers involved in Blackburn in Bloom are hoping they’ve done enough to impress new judges of the highly renowned horticultural competition, RHS Britain in Bloom North West, after the event was cancelled last year.

Before beginning a tour of the town earlier this month, judges were welcomed by a bright and beautiful new mural across the hoardings at St Johns Church, created by local artist Alex Gallagher.

A two-hour inspection of the gloriously green spaces dotted across Blackburn then began, starting with the floral delights of the Cathedral Gardens and Cathedral grounds, both of which are maintained by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

After this, judges headed over to Ainsworth Street to admire planters that have recently been transformed with colourful murals by local artist Emma Colbert and replanted with grasses to complement their modern style.

They then moved on to Fleming Square’s Italianate Garden that is looked after by volunteers from Blackburn Horticultural Society and local businesses, before taking in the pristinely maintained planting at King William Street.

The judges also met with local volunteers involved in Blackburn BIDs ‘Growing Places’ project, which has revamped planters at The Youth Zone and Blackburn College, as well as introducing new raised beds at Victoria Gardens both designed and maintained by Age UK, Child Action North West, Blackburn with Darwen Adult Learning and Blackburn Foodbank.

Final stops were the luscious new public realm and planting schemes at Blakey Moor, delivered as part of the Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project, and the new Jubilee Square created to the front of the old Technical School.

The tour also allowed time for the organisers to present a number of other Blackburn in Bloom activities that form part of this year’s entry.

Judges were particularly interested in the ‘Field of Flax’ project, delivered by Super Slow Way and Patrick Grant – judge on The Great British Sewing Bee and owner of Blackburn-based Community Clothing.

The project has worked with local residents to repurpose wasteland at the edge of the town centre and grow flax. Once harvested, the flax will be spun and dyed in Blackburn to make a pair of Homespun/Homegrown jeans for the British Textile Biennial in October.

Judges were similarly impressed with the new community garden at The Bureau. Largely created by volunteers using recycled and repurposed waste materials and donated plants, the garden has transformed a former car park into a small urban oasis.

Blackburn hopes it can retain its run of gold awards, after scooping the top prize in its category three years in a row. This year the town is entered into the categories for Large Town Centres and Business Improvement District, which are both judged on cleanliness, maintenance, sustainability and community involvement, as well as the quality of floral displays.

Councillor Phil Riley, Executive Member for Growth and Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said:

It’s so exciting to see the Britain in Bloom judging returning to Blackburn after it was unable to go ahead last year.

The Council’s green team have been working tirelessly to look after the displays, ensuring that they are watered and fed during the growing season and throughout lockdowns. The town centre really does look lovely, and I’d encourage everyone to walk round and enjoy the greenery we’re so fortunate to have.

I would like to thank the gardeners and teams involved, our Britain in Bloom partners and all of our amazing local volunteers, for their hard work and dedication in making Blackburn so ‘bloomin’ wonderful.

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