Monday 14 April 2014
RHS Ambassador for Community Gardens Nick Knowles and multi RHS Chelsea gold medallist Adam Frost launch the 50th RHS Britain in Bloom with the 'glamorous gardening grannies' at an alley they have transformed on Cecil Street in Liverpool.
TV host and top garden designer celebrate 50th anniversary of campaign now organised by Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at the start of National Gardening Week 2014 (14-20 April)
Nick Knowles - one of our best-loved TV presenters – is joining multi-RHS Gold medallist Adam Frost to sow sunflowers at a transformed alleyway in Liverpool at 9.30am on Monday 14 April to launch RHS Britain in Bloom 2014 which is providing half a million sunflower seeds to be sown across Britain that week.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s biggest community gardening campaign*, thousands of Bloom groups across the UK are holding sunflower-sowing parties and events throughout National Gardening Week so by the summer our public green spaces will be awash with gold, providing vital food for insects.
Nick and Adam will showcase the transformational impact of Bloom by shining a spotlight on an alleyway that two Bloomers have turned from a dangerous and derelict space used by burglars, drug dealers and fly-tippers into their very own community garden.
“There were needles everywhere, mattresses, smashed glass, dog-muck, empty beer cans – basically anything that could be thrown out found its way there – it was filthy and a dangerous place to be, especially for the local children,” said local resident, Irene Humphreys.
Irene and Audrey, known locally as the ‘glamorous, gardening grannies’, began by filling a bathtub with flowers and it has since become a plant paradise; a safe haven where the community relax. Irene and Audrey have won a number of RHS Britain in Bloom awards for their community garden. “Bloom has helped us to change this space beyond all recognition,” said Irene.
Nick Knowles, RHS Ambassador for community gardening, said: “RHS Britain in Bloom involves nearly 300,000 extraordinary people who are transforming spaces all over the UK. It’s so important to champion projects like this so even more people will be inspired to do the same in their own community. It’s incredible the difference they’ve made and the sense of community that’s developed from what used to be a really threatening area to live. Fear for the area has turned to pride and what could be better than that?”
“It’s good to know over the last year, Bloomers have transformed nearly 2,000 football-pitches worth of derelict land into usable community spaces. I’ve always believed passionately in community gardening and this is why I love the Bloom ethos – it’s all about the people,” said Nick.
Adam Frost, who has won three consecutive Gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, joined Audrey and Irene with two of his horticultural apprentices on Sunday 13 April for a gardening session with plants donated by Homebase.**
Adam was inspired by what he saw: “Audrey and Irene have proven that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a garden, all you need is a bit of creativity and enough passion to make a difference to where you live. It’s inspiring to see how powerful gardening can be to bring communities together and improve lives and it’s fantastic that this has been going on all over Britain since the early 60s. That begs the question: What state would our streets and neighbourhoods be in if it wasn’t for people like Irene and Audrey? The great thing is, too, that you don’t need a Chelsea gold medal to join Bloom either – anybody can make a difference to their community.”
Stephanie Eynon, RHS Community Horticulture Manager, said: “We’re delighted Nick and Adam are helping launch the campaign in such a special year. Throughout National Gardening Week, many of the 3,000 or so Bloom groups and 18,500 schools in our Campaign for School Gardening will be sowing pollinator-friendly sunflowers to brighten up streets, neighbourhoods and public areas, and provide food for insects. I’m looking forward to seeing swaths of gold this summer.”
As well as Bloom celebrations, throughout National Gardening Week (14-20 April) organisations, charities and individuals will be holding gardening events. To see events or register your own: http://www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk/
Anybody can set-up their own Bloom group or join their nearest for free by visiting: www.rhs.org.uk/getinvolved
Notes to editors
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*RHS Britain in Bloom:
History: The idea came from journalist Roy Hay MBE who went to France during the Fleurissement de France and was enthralled by seeing the country "filled to overflowing with flowers, shrubs and trees all in full bloom".
Bloom started as a way to attract visitors to the UK by the British Tourist Authority. In 1964 Bath was the first national winner. From 1964 to 1969 inclusive there was an overall national winner. From 1970, however, the competition was divided up into a range of categories, because of the difficulty of comparing settlements of different sizes fairly.
Tidy Britain ran Bloom from 1983 until 2001 when it was handed over to the RHS. Since then, Bloom has become a major campaign which brings communities together to enhance the look, feel and pride of a place. The RHS has increased the campaign’s focus on environmental and community-based activities.
RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood: In 2006, the RHS launched a new non-competitive programme for Bloom – ‘RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood’ (IYN) which has gone from strength to strength. Aimed at small, volunteer-led communities, like youth groups, allotment groups or school gardening clubs, IYN is for any group just starting to green up and clean up their local area.
When IYN started there were 342 registrations. There are now 1985. In fact, there has been a 20% increase since last year. The rapid growth of IYN is testament to how much British people care about the environment in which they live whether it be rural Surrey or inner-city Edinburgh.
Scale and impact: There are 3,900 RHS Britain in Bloom groups (including IYN groups) and we estimate there to be up to 300,000 volunteers that belong to these groups. Bloom is helping change both the socio-economic and physical landscape of the country. Recent research shows that on average, groups look after 110 acres of green space each (compared to just 10 acres in 2010). It is estimated that UK-wide, Bloom volunteers have transformed 2000 football pitches of neglected land, usually crime hotspots used by fly-tippers, into community growing spaces.
** Suppliers who kindly donated resources and plants through Homebase are:
• Gimall Plants
• John Woods Nurseries Ltd
• Ivan Ambrose & Co. Ltd
• Glendale Horticulture Ltd
• Mr Fothergills
• Westland Horticulture
About RHS Britain in Bloom
RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest community gardening campaign, involving up to 300,000 people. In 2014, the campaign celebrates its 50th anniversary as Britain’s favourite gardening campaign. As part of RHS Britain in Bloom – and its sister campaign, RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood – volunteers in cities, towns, villages, urban communities and neighbourhoods work together to improve their local environment, using gardening as a tool.
To find out more, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/communities
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.
Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.
RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262