Alnwick has achieved outstanding success in the 2022 Northumbria in Bloom awards.
As well winning some main awards there were successes in the Special Category Awards and the It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme.
Alnwick Town Mayor, Councillor Geoff Watson said: “The number of awards that went to Alnwick is due to the amazing community spirit we have in our town – the hard work and determination from members of the Town Council, Alnwick in Bloom, community groups and individuals has paid off. I congratulate everybody involved.”
“This year Alnwick Town Council increased its financial commitment to the floral programme, and I think it shows. It hasn’t been the easiest of years with a hot, dry summer and earlier Storm Arwen. I’m delighted to see that Alnwick Cemetery gained an award following the devastation the high winds caused back in November.”
Town Clerk, Peter Hately, said “I know all the councillors join me in saying a big thank you to the Alnwick in Bloom volunteers for helping brighten up the town with their dedication and tireless enthusiasm. The planting in town has looked amazing this year, with the hanging baskets being a particular favourite of mine.”
“And I must say a special thank you to AiB’s outgoing chair, Elizabeth Jones, for steering the town not only to its 11th Gold but also helping them win Best Town and Best Spring Entry”.
Janet Pibworth, Alnwick Town Council’s In Bloom co-ordinator and Alnwick in Bloom Secretary was among those who attended the presentation ceremony. She commented “Alnwick was mentioned again and again. I heard people say ‘yet another one for Alnwick’. It was wonderful!”
The competition, now in its 58th year, is all about encouraging local communities to improve their area through community gardening and sound environmental practises. It is part of the UK wide Britain in Bloom campaign run by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Peter Rodger, Chairman of Northumbria in Bloom said: “The last two and a half years have certainly been the most challenging and disruptive since Northumbria in Bloom was established in 1964. However, although our entries have had to contend with the covid restrictions like everyone else, it has been really pleasing to see all the fantastic work that they and their communities have still managed to do in their local areas despite all the difficulties.”
“These Awards are all about recognising and celebrating all that our entries have collectively achieved in enhancing the overall environment of the North East in 2022.”
The region runs from Berwick in the north, south west to the border with Cumbria, then along the border with North Yorkshire to the sea south of the Tees at Staithes.
Alnwick won the ‘Best Entry in Spring’ award.
Judges commented “A visit to Alnwick in springtime gives a floral festival of flowering cherry trees, daffodils, many other lovely bulbs and colourful attractive bedding in many locations. There are beautiful cherry trees in The Alnwick Garden, in the Column Field and in many areas around the town. The display of daffodils adjacent to Alnwick Castle is magnificent and a new sensory garden near the hospital entrance provides disabled access to a peaceful area for patients and families. The horticultural planning and effort by the Alnwick in Bloom volunteers is evidenced throughout the town eg The Pinfold, The Pottergate garden and other areas and the volunteers can be justly proud of their achievements. The ‘Roots and Shoots’ team in Alnwick Garden is working with ten schools, The Young Gardener Programme and The Gentlemen’s Club with considerable success and enjoyment. More cherry trees, oak and willow trees have been planted and the Wildlife Corridor along the Willow Burn is thriving. New mosaics and benches have been installed”
Alnwick also won a gold and was declared the winner of the Best Town section.
Judges said: “Alnwick town is welcoming with beautiful spring and summer bedding schemes and there are many areas with attractive pollinator friendly permanent planting. The huge commitment of many volunteers and businesses plus the community spirit to make Alnwick town even more beautiful are much to be commended.”
Winners of the Special Category Awards included The John Bull which won a gold and was declared ‘Best Pub’. Judges said: “This is a most amazing and unusual public house courtyard with recycling ideas on every surface. For example, empty cans have been used to make table bases and a school desk has a new life as a table. There are plants on every surface and every wall, with a striking large clematis dominating the whole space. There are many hanging baskets containing pelargoniums of all shades”. Landlord Gus Odlin is pictured during the summer when he won an award in the Alnwick Patio and Courtyard competition.
Joint Best Hotel / Guest House was The Cookie Jar which also won a gold. Owner Debbie Cook is pictured in the garden about which judges said: “All the plants in this magnificent garden are in excellent condition and well cared for. The design of the rear garden has made a beautiful and peaceful space, the hard landscaping is well executed and there are no weeds. The gorgeous street window boxes are a preliminary treat being contiguous with the colour scheme of blue and green of the whole garden. The overall impression of tranquillity befits a property that was once a nunnery”.
Best Tourist or Visitor Attraction was declared to be the gold-winning Alnwick Garden. Comments by the judges included: “Visiting the Alnwick Garden is a pleasure for everyone with the many and varied horticultural delights, the splendid cascade and other amazing water features. A walk around the garden will include the Japanese Cherry Orchard, lovely scented rose garden, the labyrinth which is especially enjoyed by families, the hornbeam trees with arches to view the cascade, the Poison Garden and at the top of the garden the Walled Garden, which provides year round interest with so many well-chosen plants such as the pleached crab apples, cornus and lonicera hedges, alstromeria beds, bush roses with blackcurrants and the central water feature surrounded by gorgeous pergola roses. All areas are very accessible, the facilities excellent and signage and information boards are very good. This is an immaculately maintained tourist and visitor attraction”. Head gardener Rob Ternent and his team are seen celebrating their success.
Alnwick residents will be delighted to know that the Best Bus/Metro/Railway Station award went to Alnmouth Railway Station who also won a gold. “Gold clematis planted on a central obelisk grace the area by the coffee van. Filled with colourful annuals, they are a bright addition to the carpark. The large planters on the south-bound platform have been replanted with cordylines for the central height surrounded by perennials and ivy with some annuals for impact. New baskets attached to the fascia boards of the ticket office are filled with vibrant annuals chosen to complement the blue paint on the building. A striking new poster has been installed on both platforms and shows the artwork produced by local children, consisting of a collage of paintings of wildlife and architectural places of interest overlaying ordnance survey maps of the area”. Some of the ‘Friends of Alnmouth Station’ are pictured with their award.
The Best Private Garden award went to George Turner (pictured) for his display on Swansfield Park Road which drew the comments “This very attractive and eye catching garden is a joy for all the residents in the street. It is beautifully planted with a wonderful selection of colourful and well-chosen annuals and perennials in pots and in the beds. The green foliage planting offers excellent contrast to enhance the horticultural achievement. The many hanging baskets are artistically positioned and look lovely. Everywhere is immaculate and there are interesting features- a colourful wooden bench, an old plough and weighing scales. Congratulations to the gardener”
In the Schools section Swansfield Park School won a gold award with their ‘very attractive and eye-catching garden’. Pupils are seen in one of their new tiered areas and judges also admired the recycling of tyres as planters.
In the Best Religious Establishment category Alnwick Cemetery was awarded Silver Gilt. The cemetery was originally planned in 1856 and now is 13 acres. The entrance has a beautiful handkerchief tree which is surrounded by well chosen shrubs. The grass is regularly cut in places with a little left for wildlife. There were many trees blown down in last winter’s storm and they have all been cleared up and replanted with direct replacements or with native trees, whichever is the most appropriate. Tree maintenance is good. There are a number of bird and bat boxes and they are used. The overall appearance is very pleasing. Town Mayor Councillor Geoff Watson and cemetery groundsman Ian Richardson are seen with the Silver Gilt certificate.
In the Best Residential Community section a gold award went to St Paul’s Court. Judges said: “The gardens surrounding the building are looking very colourful and attractive and the front has bedding to reflect the Jubilee. Throughout the garden there are numerous pots and hanging baskets with well-grown plants and there are herbs and a vegetable plot with tasty offerings. The rear garden has a very large border with a lovely selection of perennials and although it was sad to lose some trees the area has opened up. The residents also have the pleasure of small beds with attractive roses and several Japanese cherry trees. Chris Gibson is pictured, centre, with fellow residents Anthea and Michael.
In the Best Allotment category St. James’s Allotment Site was awarded Silver Gilt. “This is an old, very large and well-established site with a mixture of full size and half size plots.All these are currently let although some are weedy because of unexpected reasons. There is a large and interesting selection of fruit and vegetables being grown and some owners are taking the opportunity to grow more unusual varieties that are not readily available in the shops. Of course there are many more traditional plants being grown too. Compost heaps are in evidence and water taps are strategically positioned although perhaps more water butts could be used.
In the Best Conservation category, a Silver Gilt was awarded to Bullfield Community Orchard. “The Orchard space is completely run by volunteers. The grass is cut by the local authority and some has been left long to encourage biodiversity. There are many fruit and nut trees on the site including apple, pear, cherry, plum and some unusual trees – medlar, walnut, mulberry and Kentish cob nut. The site is crossed by a public footpath which is well used by the community. The whole group organise an annual fruit pressing day which is well attended, allowing all to bring fruit to be pressed. The play area and climbing frame encourage children to come to the site. (Photo from Facebook)
Alnwick also had success in the he RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign which is open to all volunteer groups in the region, not just in areas entering the main Bloom competition. It is non-competitive, free to enter and aimed at smaller community groups greening their local area.
Alnwick Infirmary Sensory Garden provides a pleasant view of the column field and is fringed on one side by a wood which offers shelter. Through fund-raising and grants a group of people led by Carlo Biagioni have provided a wheelchair accessible area with a pathway that leads to seating placed under the shade of a tree. There are benches surrounded by planters containing summer flowers, lavender and herbs. Thirty three people planted 32 trees nearby and Alnwick Town Council provided mycorrhizal fungi to give them a good start. Thirty Rotarians and local schoolchildren have planted bulbs in the surrounding area. The area is now largely self-sufficient and tended by a team of volunteers, one of whom, Jeannette Hewson, is seen with the RHS certificate.
St George’s Community Allotment is a relatively new community project that has already made significant progress in all areas. The volunteers together with the client groups have created a valuable resource which can now provide support for a whole range of clients. The group is fully aware of the importance of environmental issues in the allotment. They collect rainwater, are hot composting and creating their own fertiliser. Produce is distributed within the local community and disabled access is taken into account ensuring that the project can benefit all sectors of the community.
Graham’s Yard features a substantial area of containers. Watering is aided by a water-butt and the addition of gel to the compost. The inclusion of perennial plants ensures there is a long season of interest. The backing of residents within the yard provides support for this neighbourhood project which is led primarily by one resident, Liselotte Renner, who is pictured among the selection of containers.
Hope House Lane and Meadow Riggs Jubilee Orchard: This group of neighbours came together in February with the intention of replacing trees that had been lost over recent years. They have planted a number of fruit trees and bulbs and also areas of wildflower seeds have been sown. Further planting and community activity will take place in the spring when the ground will be scraped for planting. The project has been well supported by Alnwick Town Council that has provided advice as well as practical assistance such as guards, stakes, seeds and placed bins nearby. Residents of all ages have been involved with the project and it gained 96 points out of 100, placing it in the ‘outstanding’ category.