Scotland has been blooming at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society awards.
Perth has been awarded top prize and crowned ‘Champion of Champions’ in the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) 55th annual Britain in Bloom community gardening competition.
And there were other awards for Bridge of Earn, Haddington and St Andrews.
In the same year that environmental and community efforts were given greater weighting in the judging criteria, the ‘Fair City’ wowed RHS judges with its urban green spaces, pollinator-friendly planting and campaign to raise awareness of and collect plastic waste.
Sustainability is at the heart of Perth’s approach. Parks, gardens and biodiversity hotspots line the River Tay, some of which are designed to mitigate flood risk in what has been Scotland’s second wettest summer on record, and city-wide, many seasonal bedding displays have been swapped for plants including foxgloves, Salvia and flowering shrubs to provide year-round food for bees and other wildlife.
The jewel in the crown is the volunteer-maintained heather collection in Riverside Park, featuring over 500 varieties and beloved by insects including the buff-tailed bumblebee. Grey streets have also been transformed with colourful council-installed mini parks known as ‘parklets’ and 700 hanging baskets sponsored by local businesses.
Perth fought off four other contenders to win – Durham, Kingsbridge in Devon, Castlecaulfield in Northern Ireland and St Helier in Jersey – with a total of 68 communities competing across 12 categories that include best village, urban community and city.
Each is nominated for the UK finals based on their regional success and judged on their horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility, taking home either a gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze medal.
The exceptional standard of Perth’s entry also earned them a gold medal and discretionary award for the quality of Riverside Park.
Three other category wins make Scotland the most successful competing nation and region in 2019: Bridge of Earn won the large village category, Haddington scooped the town prize and St Andrews walked away with the coastal award.
Darren Share, chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom judges, said: ‘Congratulations to Perth for its forward-thinking environmental initiatives, superb horticulture and far-reaching community support, with its small army of volunteers contributing 5,000 hours every year.
‘Britain in Bloom is no longer just about spectacular floral displays, gardeners are increasingly having to respond to the changing climate, declining pollinator numbers and plastic waste and more communities are galvanising people around these issues to bring about positive change. Perth is a fine example of what can be achieved.’
Perth were presented with their trophy at the RHS Britain in Bloom 2019 awards ceremony, held at the RHS Lindley Hall in London.