STRATHAVEN in Bloom have just over two weeks to put the finishing touches to the town in preparation for this year’s Beautiful Scotland competition.
For two judges for the prestigious competition, which is run by Scotland’s charity for the environment, Keep Scotland Beautiful, will be visiting the town on Monday, July 30, to assess the work the group has done over the past year.
Strathaven in Bloom are one of 50 entries from across Scotland taking part in this year’s competition.
Last year the town won a Silver Medal certificate in the medium town category and the year before that did even better, winning a Silver Gilt certificate.
Strathaven in Bloom chair Helen Young told the News this year had been a particularly difficult one as far as presenting the town at its best was concerned, with the cold snap at the start of the growing season and the miserable wet summer.
On the plus side, Strathaven in Bloom had approached South Lanarkshire Council halls manager Jim Jardine and asked him to spruce up the outside of the hall, which they were grateful to say had been done.
They had also approached Strathclyde Police and brought the state of the paintwork on the local police station to their attention. They had been promised this would be upgraded in the coming months and had been able to include this in their submitted entry to Beautiful Scotland.
On the minus side they have had to deal with this year’s atrocious weather.
Helen explained: “We took delivery of our plants at the end of April / beginning of May only for the weather to turn frosty and temperatures to plummet to below freezing.
“It was too cold even to put the plants in our polytunnels and we had to find family and friends willing to house them temporarily for a week or so on window ledges, conservatories and other warmer spots until the weather improved. Hence it was a very late start to planting out.
“Since then it has been very wet for most of the time. It has meant we have had to put in less effort in watering plants.
“The other consolation is that every group entered in the competition have been experiencing similar problems.”
Helen added that this year, because of Government cutbacks, Beautiful Scotland had asked communities to pay an entry fee. For Strathaven this had amounted to £150, which was money they could have used on other things.
What Strathaven in Bloom are hoping for now is an improvement in the weather.
They are also asking local folk and visitors to the town to treat it kindly and make sure they don’t do anything, such as dropping litter, to detract from all the work and effort put in to make the town more beautiful.
Over the next few weeks, 20 highly experienced judges will be travelling the length and breadth of the country to assess the entries to Beautiful Scotland.
During the judging, each community will be assessed on horticultural achievement – for example design quality and standard of maintenance of horticultural displays; environmental quality such as the absence of litter, dog fouling, graffiti, fly posting and weeds; and community involvement.
The 50 entrants will find out their level of achievement at the annual awards ceremony which will be held this year in Motherwell on Tuesday, September 11.