A Lancashire village has been crowned Champion of Champions in the RHS Britain in Bloom Competition.
Dubbed ‘The Village of Flowers’, Elswick in Lancashire was recognised for its bold blooms, community participation and environmental responsibility in taking out the top prize in the UK-wide gardening competition.
The coveted title recognises Elswick, a former agricultural village which at the turn of the century was uncared for and blighted by litter, vandalism and antisocial behaviour, as one of the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful places in Britain in 2017.
This year, 78 Britain in Bloom groups were chosen to fly the flag for their region or nation in the UK-wide RHS competition following success in their respective areas the previous year. As well as winning their category, Elswick was awarded a Gold medal, reflecting the exceptionally high standard reached across the three key criteria that groups are marked on: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.
Elswick’s entry impressed the RHS judges with its high impact floral displays, attention to detail and 1,000 strong support base, which has also made significant efforts to bring back the village’s lost heritage. They have recreated a community orchard with nearly 50 fruit trees and bee hives, a wildflower meadow and the ‘Avenue of Trees’ from scenes depicted in Windmill Land, a 1916 book about the area.
In the last year alone, the group has re-planted 600 native primroses, planted 2,000 crocus corms, 500 tulips and a further 1,000 bluebell bulbs, and installed additional bat and bird boxes and bug hotels. The group also provides ‘outdoor classroom’ areas for the local primary school and takes part in an innovative Christmas tree recycling scheme where discarded trees are used to help stabilise sand dunes on the nearby coast.
Britain in Bloom is now in its 53rd year and, for the first time, a new BBC Two series following the quintessentially British competition is set to air in spring 2018.
The 2017 Category winners of the RHS Britain in Bloom UK Finals Awards are:
Champion of Champions: Elswick (North West)
Coastal (up to 12k): Sidmouth (South West)
Coastal (over 12k): Newquay (South West)
Small Village: Stanghow (Northumbria)
Village: Filby (Anglia)
Large Village: Market Bosworth (East Midlands) and Usk (Wales)
Urban Community: Didsbury (North West)
Business Improvement District: Penrith (Cumbria)
Small Town: Randalstown (Ulster) and Uppingham (East Midlands)
Town: Forres (Scotland) and Halstead (Anglia)
Large Town: Farnham (South East) and Truro (South West)
Small City: Newcastle-under-Lyme (Heart of England)
City: London Borough of Tower Hamlets (London)
Large City: London Borough of Hillingdon (London)