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Aug 16

Diary of a Bloomer August 08 – Birmingham Post Article

Done and dusted…the Britain in Bloom Judges have departed and Moseley was indeed all but dusted in their honour! As first time national finalists, we put on our very best show to represent not only Moseley but Birmingham and the whole Heart of England in Bloom region.Last month’s visit by the regional judges was an excellent dress rehearsal, so with military precision, we unfurled our customised umbrellas and planned a similar itinerary, right down to the weather which once more was wet and miserable.

There were sterling efforts from council workers and from Moseley volunteers who turned out for the familiar last minute clean-ups – sweeping, weeding and litter-picking. After a final weekend of frantic activity the pavements were immaculate and the gutters gleamed and glistened in the rain. Judgement Day stress levels rose early: it was Bins Day, but our special arrangement for an earlier collection backfired when residents kept putting rubbish out after the collection lorry had been and gone – Bloomers were madly dragging the bags back out of sight – note for next year – we must mail shot all the residents. A can of paint fell off a truck at the traffic lights instantly creating ugly white stripes as vehicles wheeled through it; fortunately it proved to be emulsion paint and was soon washed away by the rain. An early-morning inebriate was spotted falling out of doorways on the High Street and was propped up against a bus shelter and exhorted to ‘Be Upstanding for the Judge’

The judges, luminaries of the RHS, with glittering horticultural careers in both the commercial and local authority sectors, spend a month touring round the national Britain in Bloom finalists. We are assessed in 5 sections in the Urban Communities category: A. Floral Displays, B. Permanent Landscaping and Permanent Planting, C. The Environment and Sustainable Development, D. Local Environmental Quality and Cleanliness, E. Public Awareness. Marks are awarded for community involvement in each section.

The judges were collected from their hotel first thing by Jenny Brewer, Bloomer in charge of floral displays, to rendezvous with MIB Chair Natalie Higgins. Natalie escorted them throughout their 2½ hour walkabout pointing out the horticultural highlights and introducing them to some of the people who have worked so hard to make Moseley in Bloom a success.

First in line were the Guerrilla Gardeners, Laburnum Grove Branch, led by Leaf-tenant Val Patchell and Privet Brendan Patchell who have transformed the environment of Woodbridge Road. Val reached out to catch some flying litter to discover it was a five pound note! Perhaps it was a lucky omen because with perfect timing, just as the judges were being shown the new landscaping project at the Police Station, a gentleman rushed up to Natalie saying it didn’t matter about the competition, because Moseley looked better than he had ever seen it. The judges were impressed and boxes were ticked.

The judges who had been able to study our Portfolio for a month, asked questions, said little, made notes and took pictures, including one of the large wall mounted barometer outside The Fighting Cocks which was accurately reading midway between rainy and stormy. Despite the weather, Moseley looked fantastic – the floral displays around the Village Green, the maturing flowerbed by the Superloo, the new street trees and the garden restoration at the Dovecote. They were clearly impressed by Moseley’s hidden treasure, Moseley Park and Pool – an un-manicured tract of nature tucked away behind the High Street. At the very moment they were admiring the view, a heron landed right on cue and posed majestically on the new pump in the middle of the lake.

All too soon it was over and we handed over to the Town Clerk of Bridgnorth who arrived to transport them for their afternoon judging session. Bloomers reconvened the following day at the Prince of Wales not to discuss the new business recycling scheme but to share a convivial drink and look forward to a little relaxation and enjoyment, watching a thousand flowers bloom for the rest of the summer while we wait until September for the judges to reveal our floral fate.

Stephanie Silk