Royal Horticultural Society changes Britain in Bloom judging criteria

Britain in Bloom goes woke as hanging baskets and fancy floral displays are shunned in favour of eco-friendly wild hedges as charity strives to turn the contest ‘green

  • Britain in Bloom has inspired thousands of people to beautify their towns
  • The Royal Horticultural Society has this year changed the judging criteria
  • Perfectly planted flowers are being shunned in favour of messy grassland
  • Competitors have been told they should consider their carbon footprints
  • For almost 60 years the Britain in Bloom competition has inspired thousands to beautify their towns and villages with colourful floral displays.

    But now hanging baskets and flowers planted in perfect formation are being shunned in favour of messy grassland and untamed hedges as the Royal Horticultural Society strives to turn the contest ‘green’.

    No longer will beauty be the main criterion for the competition – the eco-friendly credentials of village greens and town centres will take precedence.

    Competitors will be penalised for over-use of bedding plants such as pansies, busy lizzies and begonias and are instead asked to plant perennials and herbs as they have a lower carbon footprint.

    They will also be asked not to make their town centres too tidy and told to ‘consider the needs of wildlife’ when maintaining areas by ‘avoiding hedge trimming in nesting season or leaving grass longer at certain times of year to support invertebrates’.

    Hanging baskets and immaculate borders have fallen out of favour in the Britain in Bloom competition as they are not considered environmentally friendly

    Hanging baskets and immaculate borders have fallen out of favour in the Britain in Bloom competition as they are not considered environmentally friendly

    Towns and villages will receive extra marks if they consider the needs of wildlife, while the use of  pesticides and herbicides are now no longer recommended

    Towns and villages will receive extra marks if they consider the needs of wildlife, while the use of pesticides and herbicides are now no longer recommended

    Use of pesticides and herbicides will also be a no-no, with weeds removed by hand. And walls covered in moss and ivy will be encouraged in polluted areas to catch particulate matter.

    The update to the rules is likely to change the appearance of many towns and villages that until now have focused on creating flowerbeds with spectacular bursts of colour.

    Britain in Bloom involves around 3,500 community gardening groups and hundreds of thousands of local volunteers who work year-round to keep their neighbourhoods beautiful and vie for awards.

    It expanded from its roots in 1963 as a hanging-basket competition and became a national gardening movement. Now more than 1,600 towns, villages and cities take part each year.

    Kay Clark, of the RHS, 前記: ‘The campaign has moved away from the idea of beautiful flowers and making it all attractive to improving the local environment and using plants as a way to do that.’

    She added the horticulture charity, which also runs the annual Chelsea Flower Show, will be offering tutorials for gardeners who want to learn how to be more eco-friendly.

    Miss Clark said: ‘We want people to grow their own plants or buy from local nurseries instead of using big garden centres.

    ‘We want people to start using green walls and roofs, planting to create barriers for pollution, taking steps to reduce climate change.’

    Gardeners will also be asked to conduct nature surveys before and after they plant their gardens to see if their work has increased biodiversity.

    Miss Clark said: ‘We are really thinking about wildlife. They need to look at making habitats – we are saying they should include hedges and ponds, integrate it right into their planting.’

    The last time the competition was held in 2019, before the pandemic, Perth in Scotland was crowned Britain in Bloom’s Champion of Champions.

    Judges praised the city’s stunning green spaces and 700 hanging baskets sponsored by local businesses.

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