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Judgement day looms for borough’s bloomers
Monday 8th July, 2013

Judgement day looms for borough’s bloomers
Displays at Hindley Train station

Plants are being pruned, lawns are being mowed and prayers are being said for sunny weather as once again Wigan Borough welcomes the Royal Horticultural Society’s North West in Bloom judges.

Hundreds of amateur gardeners from every corner of the borough are putting the finishing touches to their displays, gardens and green spaces ahead of the judging which takes place over three days at the end of the month.

A record 22 community groups have entered the competition this year along with Wigan Council’s borough-wide entry. They’re hoping to beat the record number of prizes the borough won in 2012.

Wigan claimed 23 prizes at the regional competition last year and was nominated for a gold award in Britain in Bloom – winning a silver gilt prize.

Five new community groups are taking part this year including a team of volunteers from Mosley Common in the far east of the borough near Tyldesley. In the west of the borough, Shevington and District in Bloom group are entering again – going for gold in the village category having missed out on the top prize by five points last year.

The Shevington group has taken over land around the platforms at Gathurst Train station, where they’ve been landscaping and planting flowers. Their efforts have been inspired by the success of the Friends of Hindley Train station, who won gold a year ago. The group have now started working on a second platform at Hindley station and that will form part of their entry in this year’s competition.

Councillor Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council cabinet member for the environment, said: “It’s a remarkable achievement to have 22 groups entering the competition this year. We should all be very proud of Wigan Borough in Bloom. It brings communities together, transforms parts of our neighbourhoods, enhances the environment and has changed perceptions of Wigan.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming the judges and think we have some great displays and green spaces to show them. However, improving on last year’s performance will be a big challenge and, as any gardener will tell you, the weather has not been kind this year. I wish all our groups the very best of luck.”

The judges arrive in Wigan Borough on July 23 with inspections taking place over three days. The results are announced in the autumn.

Wigan Borough in Bloom coordinator Damian Jenkinson is in charge of the council’s borough-wide entry and has been guiding the voluntary groups. He says this has been one of the toughest preparation periods he can remember. The BBC Young Gardener of the Year 2012 runner-up said: “The weather has been really difficult. The council’s displays around the town centres and in the parks were all behind because we had such a cold spring. Thankfully, we’ve had some warmer weather recently so that’s meant a lot of the flowers have started to come out. Things are happening a little later than we would normally expect but I’m confident by the time the judges arrive here the borough will be looking bright and beautiful.

“The groups have been working hard all year and the effort they put in is quite amazing. The passion people have for In Bloom is remarkable and I really hope the judges like what they see.”

In the last year, Damian has become an unofficial ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society and been writing a monthly blog for The Guardian website detailing the planning and preparation that goes into an In Bloom entry. He says: “It really does take a lot of work. It’s not just about planting a few pretty flowers. This is a community-led project that makes a difference right across the borough.”

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