Bursting in to bloom

What do Harrogate, Scarborough, Leeds, Cayton, Hunmanby, Wetherby, Beighton (Sheffield) have in common, other than the fact they are all in Yorkshire?

This year, they are also all in the finals of the Britain in Bloom competition.

Britain in Bloom started in 1963, and has grown into the biggest horticultural campaign in Europe. And in that time, Harrogate, not surprisingly for such a floral town, has picked up a bucketful of awards.

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Every year, hundreds of communities are involved, from tiny rural villages to the largest cities, all bringing a great deal of horticultural skill and huge enthusiasm to one common aim: to regenerate local environments.

The campaign has an all-year-round aim of creating a more beautiful Britain at a local neighbourhood level. Communities of similar size are encouraged to compete with each other in the imaginative planting of trees, shrubs, flowers and landscaping and in dealing with issues of litter, graffiti and vandalism.

The benefits to communities involved in Britain in Bloom include:

An increase in civic pride through local people taking on the planning and management of their local environment.

A boost to the local economy through increased tourism.

Regeneration of disadvantaged areas.

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Stimulation of voluntary work and co-operation between community groups.

A means to address issues such as sustainability, recycling, minimising waste and energy conservation.

A full list of the finalists in this year's Britain in Bloom is available from www.rhs.org.uk/ britaininbloom