More than 1,600 cities, towns, villages and urban communities take part in the 'RHS Britain in Bloom' each year. The campaign runs year round and participating groups report a wide range of benefits such as cleaner, greener and safer surroundings, a growing sense of community pride, and increased commercial enterprise and tourism. Britain in Bloom: transforming local communities highlights the benefits that participation brings.
Communities of all sizes can take part, from small villages to large cities. Some groups are entirely run by volunteers and some work in partnership with their local council. Every summer participants are assessed for efforts in three key areas:
- Horticultural achievement
- Community participation
- Environmental responsibility
In March the organisers of Marlborough-in-Bloom invited the Permaculture Group to take part in this year's flower display. The theme for 2016 is 'bees'. We were allocated three wooden tubs: two outside the RSPCA shop on the High Street and one opposite Pino's restaurant.
We wanted to demonstrate how to integrate flowers and vegetables in small spaces to attract bees, so members of the Permaculture Group have been busy raising the appropriate edible plants in time to be planted out by the end of May. We have now transplanted shade-loving edibles, including Swiss chard, fennel, purselane and wild strawberries into the tubs outside the RSPCA shop.
We have planted climbing Italian Borlotti beans, sunflowers, borage, Swiss chard, nasturtium and English marigold in the sunny tub opposite Pino's restaurant. All of these plants will be sustained organically throughout the season. This means that we will not be using any chemical fertilisers or pesticides, but rather Milly and Barney's wonderfully nutritious compost and Sam's smelly comfrey tea!