Since almost 60 year, the Britain in Bloom contest has inspired thousands of volunteers to brighten up their communities with colorful 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 may be punished for using too many bedding plants, such as busy Lizzies, pansies or begonias. They will instead be asked to grow perennials and herbs with a smaller 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’.
Immaculate borders and hanging baskets have been relegated to the bottom of Britain in Bloom’s competition because they aren’t considered eco-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
Pesticides and herbicides are also prohibited. Weeds must be removed manually. Walls covered in moss, ivy and other debris will be encouraged for polluted locations to collect particulate matter.
Many villages and towns that have been focusing on flowerbeds with dramatic bursts are likely to see their appearance change due to the new rules.
Britain in Bloom is comprised of approximately 3,500 community gardens groups, and hundreds of thousands local volunteers who work all year to maintain beautiful neighbourhoods and compete for awards.
This movement grew from its humble beginnings as a hanging-basket contest in 1963 to become a nationwide gardening movement. Every year, more than 1,600 cities and villages participate.
Kay Clark, of the RHS, said: ‘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.’
Her new addition was the horticulture charitable, which runs the Chelsea Flower Show. They will now offer tutorials for gardeners looking to become 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.’
In order to determine whether their garden has increased biodiversity, gardeners are also asked to carry out nature surveys.
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.