It has been so incredibly hot and dry this summer, with virtually no rainfall recorded over the past couple of months.
We have had to work really hard to keep the roadway barrier troughs and hanging baskets around the town looking good by additional watering and feeding, and have even had to water flower beds that we would not normally water because, although full of long established plants, they were suffering in the prolonged heat. We have received many compliments and messages of thanks from residents and visitors alike to say how lovely they all look this year so we must be succeeding in our constant battle with the elements.
The one area that is continuing to flower its head off with no help from us and only nature to thank is The Heroes Walk in the Memorial Gardens.
This amazing display of wild flowers has received no help at all – no additional watering or feeding just sow the seeds, stand back and wait with fingers crossed. The results are truly breathtaking when you think that the area has gone from nothing to full bloom in just a few weeks!
The Heroes Walk was one of the areas on the agenda to show the judges for Britain in Bloom when they visited the town last Monday 28 July (yes – THAT incredibly wet Monday morning!). Some 35mm of rain fell between 8.30 and 9.30 in the morning as we started our tour of the town but amazingly by the time we finished some 3 hours later the sky was blue and you would never think it was the same day! Soggy shoes and umbrellas were the only sign that we had got absolutely drenched for most of the morning.
It is such a shame when the heavens open when you don’t want them to but the gardens and the reservoirs need the rain, and although the flowers were all battered flat in the morning - by the time the Britain in Bloom judges walked to the railway station from the Town Hall in the afternoon everything was back to normal with the flowers of the Heroes Walk standing to attention and the judges were able to see it in all its splendour.
The rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of our local residents either as they showed the judges round their plots with Tony Massimo and Mary Clarke at Malthouse Road Allotments doing their best under very difficult circumstances and also the brave residents of Boswell Road Tilgate led by Sharon Ottley who sheltered under a variety of large colourful umbrellas to show off their equally colourful community gardens.
Iris and John Simmons were also dressed for the occasion as they showed the judges around the St Andrews Church gardens with the splendid Himalayan Birches (Betula Jaquemontii) doing their best to sparkle in the rain. A walking tour of Waterlea Meadows Conservation Area had been on the tour as one of the highlights, but when we arrived we discovered that this flood plain was doing what it was supposed to and had flooded from the morning’s rain – totally impassable on foot!
Still never mind - by the time we got to Worth Park (the end of the tour) the sun was shining and the Friends of Worth Park got to talk to the judges and show them some of the archeological finds that have been uncovered since the restoration of the park began. The judges were really impressed by the restoration so far and the investment being made to return these important Victorian pleasure gardens to their former glory.
The results of the Britain in Bloom competition will be announced in October. Our competitors in the small city category are Bath, Bracknell, Chorley, Derry City, Harrogate, Loughborough, and Tamworth.