The big day is almost here. After a year of planning, planting, pruning and preparing, the Britain in Bloom judges are coming to town tomorrow (Friday).
One day, 18 judges, 70 finalists and 1 Champion of Champions: the Britain in Bloom with the Royal Horticultural Society 2015 UK Finals Judging Tour will be one of the biggest on the horticultural calendar.
Green fingered volunteers have been putting the finishing touches to displays in and around the town in preparation for the judges’ arrival, and they say locals can help out by ensuring gardens and communal areas are tidy and weed and litter-free.
Kirkcaldy, which is in the Small City category, will be judged on three key criteria; horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.
Over a 12 day period which began on Monday, nine pairs of RHS judges will visit all the finalists as the 2015 judging tour searches for the very best in community horticulture.
Selected last year to represent Scotland in the UK finals of Europe’s biggest community gardening contest, Kirkcaldy is hoping for top marks in order to be crowned best in its category at the glittering Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Sunderland on October 16.
The panel of expert horticulturists is currently criss-crossing the country to visit villages, towns and cities that were selected from nearly 1000 to represent their region or nation in the UK finals.
In the Lang Toun RHS judges Andrew Jackson and David Jamieson will meet community representatives and go on a tour of local projects, including public spaces such as town centres, parks and communal gardens, as well as natural spaces including conservation areas and wildflower meadows.
Each group’s final score also takes into account a whole range of complementary factors, from the condition of street furniture to the engagement of young people in Bloom activities.
Along with community groups and charities, as well as Fife Council’s parks’ teams, Growing Kirkcaldy has invested many hours to secure Kirkcaldy’s place in the final, transforming derelict land into community gardens; greening up grey spaces; brightening up streets with floral displays; litter-picking; growing produce for communities to share; encouraging local schools to get stuck in with gardening projects and so much more.
Great team of volunteers to make things happen
As part of their commitment to creating green spaces in their communities, all of this year’s finalists have planted an astonishing 2,000,000 plants, trees and bulbs over the past year.
Alice Soper from Growing Kirkcaldy said: “We are so lucky in Kirkcaldy to have a partnership of volunteers and council which is committed to maintaining and developing the green spaces of our town.
“Having been invited in to Britain in Bloom the town has been given an opportunity to show this off to the RHS. Kirkcaldy should be proud of the work our volunteers and Council are doing.”
Roger Burnett, chairman of the RHS Britain in Bloom judging panel, said: “Many see Britain in Bloom with the RHS as a competition of floral skill but spectacular displays make up only a small part of the judging criteria. We’re keen to see how the finalists have used public green spaces for the benefit of their communities, supported local wildlife and considered the environment in their efforts.”
Many local groups have been involved in transforming their communities, from businesses and schools to hospitals and charities.
More than half of finalists cite the biggest benefit of being involved in Bloom as bringing the community together. A third said it is having cleaner and greener surroundings, with a quarter saying increased civic pride is the most notable impact.
Other benefits include improved local economies, better profile of the area and a reduction in crime and antisocial behaviour.
Each finalist will be awarded a Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver or Bronze medal. There is also an award for best in category, as well as special discretionary awards given for achieving excellence in particular fields.