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 Horsham In Bloom

July 2007 

In September 2007 Horsham was declared overall winner of the South & South East Region In Bloom competition.  This article was written shortly before the judges' visit.

The local population is poised to welcome the national Britain in Bloom judges Carolyn Wilson MBE and Jon Wheatley on Friday 3 August from 9.30 am onwards when the town will be judged in the Large Town/Small City class.

In common with most places in Britain and the rest of the world Horsham has been learning to come to terms with the facts of climate change. Last year was one of the worst droughts ever experienced in the south east, with reservoirs at an all time low and underground aquifers severely depleted. Here in Horsham we adopted the 'Every Drop Counts' campaign, bravely abandoning water thirsty hanging baskets and annual planting in favour of drought tolerant planting. The Horsham in Bloom team spread important messages encouraging water harvesting whilst stimulating interest in using other types of planting to achieve stunning displays. The S & S E in Bloom judges recognised Horsham's efforts by awarding a regional GOLD standard and declaring the town Champion of Champions.

Attention to sustainable planting has been carried through into this year's programmes. Lessons learnt from last season have made it possible to bring back some of the flower power. As most gardeners know the weather can be very fickle and this year we find ourselves deluged with rain something that has helped to revive the dwindling water reserves that had been so worrying. However, in the same way that 'one swallow does not make a summer' Horsham knows that water supplies can just as easily come under threat in years to come. The town accepts that climate change means that there is a need for flexible attitudes and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. In Horsham we are keen to look at what happens all through the year and not just during the summer months. Attention to our 'in Bloom' aspirations happens day to day, month to month right through the year.

The local population is embracing new ideas and experimenting with different planting regimes. Local gardeners are treating the challenge as a bit of an adventure, a time to experiment with areas of growing that they had previously not considered. There is a real 'kick' to be had from moving towards using alpines, bulbs, herbaceous perennials, exotic varieties, succulents and speciality species.

Horsham is horticulturally switched-on, ready to meet the challenges. The aims and objectives of Britain in Bloom extend far beyond stunning displays of flowers. The whole essence of the competition is to motivate communities into taking better care of their local environment. Here in Horsham there is an inter-active network of initiatives that has been developed through an independent committee known as Horsham in Bloom. Over the last 12 years the committee has been bringing people, businesses and organisations together to find ways of making the town's living and working conditions more green, clean, attractive and vibrant.

Like most places Horsham has its advantages and disadvantages these have to be identified ready to be used to bring benefits to the population. Helped by the leadership of Horsham in Bloom opportunities have been seized and the town has been transformed using floral displays and clever landscaping. In addition to this being able to spread responsible environmental messages has led to practical projects and a greater knowledge of what is required to protect Horsham's natural and built environment for the future.

This year the Royal Horticultural Society's Britain in Bloom campaign is promoting "Bloomin' Wild" a theme that focuses on protecting wildlife in our gardens and open spaces. Caring about wildlife has been part of Horsham's campaign for a long time but this year we have stepped up the emphasis by bringing the theme into our local competitions and by using meadow planting as a means of providing colour and natural habitats across the town. Around the town a kaleidoscope of bloom consisting of swathes of different kinds of eye-catching meadow planting has prompted compliments from lots of residents and visitors!

Wild about flowers, serious about the future of the environment the people of Horsham are looking forward to offering the national judges some genuinely warm hospitality in the homely surroundings of our very distinctive Sussex market town.

Horsham In Bloom