Yorkshire in Bloom award Gold for Harrogate and Starbeck

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Keeping Yorkshire looking good is no easy task and it is thanks to the many volunteer groups and businesses that take part in the annual Yorkshire in Bloom competition that help to keep Yorkshire’s towns, villages, coastal resorts, cities, local communities and schools looking great!

  • Harrogate Gold Award Category Winner – Small City
  • Starbeck Gold Award – Urban Community
  • Woodlands Community Garden – Outstanding
  • Harrogate Flower Show Young Peoples Award – Moorside Infant – Gold
  • Public, Private and Charitable Est. – Audley Court Estates Ltd, Hampsthwaite – Gold
  • Public, Private and Charitable Est. – Knaresborough House – Gold
  • Visitors Attraction – Treasurers House in Ripon – Gold
  • Visitors Attraction – Ripon Racecours – Gold
  • Open Spaces – Friends of groups for Parks, Small Spaces, Churchyards – Aspin Pond, Knaresborough – Gold
  • Open Spaces – Friends of groups for Parks, Small Spaces, Churchyards – Friends of Sandringham Park, – Silver Gilt
  • Open Spaces – Friends of groups for Parks, Small Spaces, Churchyards – Ginny Greenholes  – Platinum
  • Open Spaces – Friends of groups for Parks, Small Spaces, Churchyards – Spofforth Millennium Garden – Platinum
  • RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood – Brighter and District – thriving

Over the summer around 50 volunteer judges have been visiting and judging these groups and the results are now in.

Yorkshire in Bloom is part of the RHS Britain in Friends of Sandringham ParkBloom campaign that has been running for over 50 years and its aim is to encourage communities of all sizes to make positive and lasting improvements to their local environment. Traditionally ‘In Bloom’ groups planted lots of colourful bedding plants and hanging baskets for the wow factor, and although this is still a very important part of the competition, it now goes much deeper. Environmental issues play a major role as part of ‘In Bloom’ and include recycling, composting, water harvesting, sustainable planting, litter, wildlife habitat and of course working in the community with schools and other groups.

One category in Yorkshire in Bloom that has seen significant growth over the past two years is ‘Open spaces’. The number of entries has increased by 100% in 2015 and it is hoped that numbers will continue to rise in this new and popular category which is open to ‘Friends’ groups and volunteer organisations that help to maintain public and open spaces, both large and small. Entries in this category are involved with maintaining or developing areas within an existing large park, a pocket park, cemetery, wildlife area or any open space that the public can enjoy. With local government cuts, volunteer ‘Friends’ groups now play a very important role in helping to maintain and protect public open spaces and their hard work and dedication is essential and very much appreciated.

Yorkshire in Bloom also award Community Champions each year to individuals who have contributed to their community. This year a Community Champion award has been given to Michael Anderson from Old Earth School in Elland for his hard work and dedication over the past 11 years in introducing and developing the gardens at the school. This is not the first award for the Anderson family as in 2012 his mum, Brenda Anderson was also given a Community Champion award for her work with Ripon in Bloom. This is the first time a mother and son have been honoured with this prestigious award.

The annual awards ceremony took place on Tuesday 8 September 2015 at the racecourse and was attended by over 350 guests.

Judges comments on the Awards

Harrogate Gold Award Category Winner – small city


Harrogate is a lovely spa town and the bloom group work hard throughout the year with and many other organisations to ensure the town looks good all year round. The judges were given a warm welcome by members of Harrogate in Bloom and were given a short presentation of some of the work being done across the town. A comprehensive portfolio had been sent out in advance of the judging day to provide background information. The judging route was well planned and involved representatives from many of the groups that all work closely together to make Harrogate such a lovely place to live and visit.

Section A: Horticultural Achievement
Areas of Achievement

The maintenance of the parks and public spaces was to a very high standard and it was good to see a mix of seasonal and sustainable planting schemes to attract bees and pollinating insects. In the Valley Gardens the work done around the newly refurbished old magnesia well in partnership with the Friends of the Valley Gardens and HBC has greatly improved and opened up an area that was previously hidden behind overgrown shrubs. As the new planting matures it will only get better. It was encouraging to see so many different community groups, organisations and businesses supporting the Bloom initiative in and around the town.

Areas for Improvement

The new stained glass panel in the bed at the top of Montpellier is a very attractive feature. Consider adding or replacing some of the plants around this new feature so that the colour palette blends more with the warm hues of the stone and stained glass, to further enhance the corner. At the entrance to the TIC the planting is very attractive, but consider including a few brighter or variegated plants to lighten up this natural dark area.
Section B: Environmental Responsibility
Areas of Achievement

From the tour of Harrogate it is evident that the environment, conservation and biodiversity are very important and taken seriously by all of the groups and HBC. Recycling of garden waste is widely practiced and old materials are also re-used were possible in the construction or new garden features. The natural areas we visited (Rossett Nature Reserve, Hookstone Wood & The Pinewoods) were maintained sympathetically to a high standard to provide natural habitats for wildlife, but also to allow the public access to these areas. The work done by the volunteers is so valuable and important. There is good awareness of the importance of collecting rainwater across the various sites. It was encouraging to see so much pride in the history and heritage of the town.

Areas for Improvement

Consider cutting some of the grass pathways a little wider around some of the natural areas as they were encroaching with grass, nettles etc. More interpretation boards could be used in a few places. For example at Rossett Nature Reserve there could be one by the pond explaining the importance of creating the correct habitat for newts and natural species and why not to include foreign species such as gold fish.

ahead, consider future maintenance of natural areas to manage brambles and seedling ash trees.
Section C: Community Participation
Areas of Achievement

Thorough the tour we met so many enthusiastic people that are all working to a common aim. The Team Harrogate initiative which is designed to bring groups together is an excellent ideal and appears to be working very well. As well as smaller community groups, HiB are also working with larger organisations such as HBC, The Harrogate Flower Shows, The Great Yorkshire show and RHS Harlow Carr.

The notice board in the Valley Gardens is a great way of communicating with the many visitors to the park about what is happening around the district. All the sites, including the allotment group, Woodlands Methodist Church, St. Peter’s Church and the various Friends groups are all pro-active and working within the community and being totally inclusive. It is also good to see businesses in and around the town helping and supporting Harrogate in Bloom.

Areas for Improvement

It is good to see schools involved in HiB, but it would also be good to try and encourage more teenagers to get involved through schools or possibly by approaching local sports clubs to ask for assistance in community projects.

Would it be possible to have a ‘fun day’ aimed at young people where they can get involved in activities such as Balsam bashing or working on allotments to introduce them to community participation?


Starbeck Gold Award – Urban Community

Starbeck again demonstrated its skill and experience in developing bloom in an urban community. The group has converted many to the task of improving the area, this includes the bus company washing the bus shelters, and Northern rail helping with planting on the station. The bloom effect is clearly seen across the whole area.
Section A: Horticultural Achievement
Areas of Achievement

Starting at the golf club introduced us to the very good rose garden at the club house and excellent hanging baskets. St Andrews allotment, where working with Springwater school plots are being used to help pupils develop a range of skills. The site also boasts a composting toilet, opened by the Mayor of Harrogate. The partnership working with Northern Rail on the station. A range of projects that have engaged the community in planting trees and flower beds.

Areas for Improvement

An area for continuation is the way co-operation achieves so much, continue to work as partners with the council, Northern Rail, Churches and the many groups in Starbeck who help.
Section B: Environmental Responsibility
Areas of Achievement

The Starbeck history board and well head at Spa mews. The treatment of the stream side and ivy for conservation. The work and information boards at Belmont Fields. The mini war time allotment used for education and promotion. Litter free over the whole area including the busy main road, and of course the bedding display at the base used by the cleaning team. The Pierre photo frame and statue.

Areas for Improvement

When possible continue to press the need for a good street furniture maintenance policy to prevent slippage of standards in this area. Monitor developments around the county council buildings which may, in the future impact on the appearance of Starbeck.

Section C: Community Participation
Areas of Achievement

The group demonstrates all that an excellent bloom group should be, community engagement, work plans, fund raising and partnership working well done.
Areas for Improvement

Continue to develop and engage as you always do, and demonstrate to other groups what can be achieved.

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