Judges from the Britain in Bloom visited Northampton to view floral displays created by community groups across the borough -after being shortlisted in the final.
Northampton is in with the chance of winning the towns and cities category of the national competition this year, after being shortlisted in the final five.
The judges from the Royal Horticultural Society began their tour at the Northampton and County Club on George Row, where volunteers have created a tranquil garden in the centre of town, for customers of George’s Café to enjoy.
They went on to meet the St Giles’ Terrace in Bloom group, who have brightened up their terrace with carefully tended front gardens and a planted shoe trail, extending into shop windows in St Giles’ Street.
Staff at Oasis House, within the Hope Centre, spoke about their communal garden, where the centre’s residents can get involved with planting and rest in a relaxing environment.
The next stop was Becket’s Park, where the Buddies of Becket’s group talked about the work they do to enhance the park, including litter picks, weeding and health walks.
Far Cotton Residents’ Association welcomed the judges to the bottom of St Leonard’s Road, where they have transformed overgrown traffic islands into colourful flower beds with a remembrance theme.
Further up the Towcester Road, the Cotton Land Girls group joined forces with the Far Cotton Boxing Club to continue this theme in a large flower bed in the club’s garden and a quirky display of planted wellington boots on the Lancaster Way.
Pupils and teachers at Delapre Abbey Primary School proudly showed their wildlife and vegetable garden to the judges, where all produce grown is taken home by the children. The tour then continued onto West Hunsbury Country Park, to meet the Friends of West Hunsbury Parks group, who have cleared undergrowth off the park’s ancient hill fort and commissioned archaeological works to discover its Iron Age past.
Residents and volunteers from Northampton Live, a group of adults with learning disabilities, spoke to the judges about their work in Parson’s Meade, a small close of sheltered housing in Hunsbury, where each house is decorated with large, colourful hanging baskets and fronted by immaculate gardens.
Delapre Abbey was the final stop on the tour, to view the extensive walled garden, where volunteers have nurtured vegetables and cottage garden flower beds.
Ahead of the tour, Councillor Mike Hallam, cabinet member for environment and chair of the Northampton Bloom committee, said: “We were delighted to be asked to participate in Britain in Bloom this year and it has led us to one of our biggest Bloom entries to date.
“We’re extremely proud of the hard work that has been undertaken by all the community groups, schools, businesses and residents from across the borough for this year’s competition.”
Britain in Bloom judge, Darren Share, said: “We’ve had a really good day and seen lots of hidden gems.
"The enthusiasm, interest and knowledge of the community groups really comes across, it’s certainly an entry we won’t forget.”
Second judge Keith Jackson added: “What we’ve seen today has been fantastic, we’re really impressed.”
The borough council will discover the results of its competition entry in October this year.