Published Friday 12 August 2022 at 17:25
RHS Judges were welcomed to a sun-soaked Blackburn this week by the Councils gardening team and partners including The BID, The Mall and the Cathedral, as the town centre is nominated for another prestigious ‘Britain in Bloom’ award.
Blackburn has been announced as a finalist for the national awards, with judges from the North West putting the town centre forward after it scooped top Gold Awards for the fifth year in a row at regional finals.
Blackburn is now competing with other towns across the country for the Britain in Bloom Town Centre Award.
Judges were given a grand tour of Blackburn’s blossoming displays alongside environmental improvements and community projects. Stops included visiting the well-established planting in the Cathedral Gardens and King William Street, admiring the large number of beautiful planters and barrier baskets around the town, visiting community planters on Exchange Street, Victoria Gardens and Higher Church Street and seeing new landscaping improvements such as Blakey Moor and Jubilee Square.
Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said:
This is absolutely fantastic news and testament to the dedication and hard work that goes in to making Blackburn town centre look its very best each year.
Our gardeners are well known around the town for working exceptionally hard all year round and truly going above and beyond to keep our floral displays looking their very best during the summer months. It’s a real team effort too with support from Blackburn BID, The Mall, our partners and volunteers.
For Blackburn to be recognised at a national level is just brilliant and very much deserved – I’d like to say a big congratulations, good-luck and thank you to everyone involved.
Whilst the judges are looking out for the most beautiful and bright floral displays and planters, they’re also prioritising community engagement, environmental improvements, sustainability, cleansing and other place-making initiatives, with a wide range of judging criteria.
In Blackburn, a range of incredible volunteers help to ensure the town is always ‘in bloom’. The Growing Places partnership, led by Blackburn BID, encourages new volunteer groups to take on small community gardening projects for the year. So far we’ve had students from Blackburn College, young people from Blackburn Youth Zone, volunteers from Child Action North West LGBTQ group, Age UK, Blackburn with Darwen Adult Learning and Blackburn Foodbank. A huge thank you to each and every person involved!
Sustainability is an important consideration also, with judges looking at whether plants are grown locally, use of resources, recycling of plants, use of perennials and initiatives to support pollinators and wildlife.
In Blackburn, examples of this are that the plants for bedding schemes are sourced from a small producer less than a mile from the town centre, and compost is produced by mixing with soil recycled from the boroughs cemeteries. We have green roofs on some of our newer buildings and many bat and bird boxes introduced in recent years too.
Alongside this, they were also judging the artistic and cultural place-making initiatives that make the town centre so distinctive, such as Blackburn Open Walls and the Wainwright tiled artwork at King Georges Hall.
Ian Leach and apprentice Ronan Chambers are part of the Council’s green spaces team, with support from Tony Farrell, a local contractor, and the Town Centre cleansing team. They work incredibly hard all year round to ensure the town centre’s flora stays flourishing.
You can listen to them, other partners involved in the project and the judges discuss Blackburn in Bloom on Saturday morning on BBC Radio Lancashire with Shigufta Khan.
Britain in Bloom winners will be announced at a special ceremony in London in October. Keep your green fingers crossed for Blackburn!