Bloom team raises the baa

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MORPETH’S Bloom bid is going baa-rmy this year as some sheep join the team.

Organisations throughout the town work together on the annual environmental campaign, planting new features, tending flower beds, picking up rubbish, sprucing up amenities and carrying out various green projects.

But one of the hardest jobs has been keeping Ha’ Hill in Carlisle Park in good order as it is too steep for lawnmowers and the grass must be tackled by hand.

Now, however, gardeners have recruited some extra help and a small flock of sheep will take over the task.

Up to a dozen sheep will be brought to the park after the project was given the go ahead by heritage experts.

There will be some fencing erected to keep them in the right place and prevent them from wandering around the park and munching on the flower displays.

The flock will belong to Northumberland County Council and will be tended by park staff.

Morpeth Town Council Clerk Gillian Turner, who is part of the Bloom organising team, said: “We have got quite a few things going on this year for Bloom and one of them is a bit of an environmental experiment.

“Ha’ Hill is very steep and when the gardeners try to cut it it is a bit difficult so they have secured permission to experiment with some sheep.

“Sheep love steep, craggy surfaces so we want to see if they will keep the grass down for us. It is a bit unusual, but it seems an environmentally-friendly way of doing it.

“The sheep will belong to the county council. It is something completely new. I don’t think there will be many councils in the country getting sheep.

“It really is a unique project.

“Of course, we do have to make sure that the sheep’s welfare is taken care of.”

The new recruits are expected to arrive later this month, just in time for spring judging of Northumbria In Bloom.

Many other projects for the competition are under way as Morpeth seeks to retain its Best Town title and also goes for glory in Britain In Bloom.

The main partners are Morpeth Town Council, Northumberland County Council, Heighley Gate Garden Centre and the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, but many other organisations and community groups play a part.

And this year the Greater Morpeth Development Trust is contributing through its project to restore Bluebell Woods and install footpaths, signage and interpretation boards in the area.

The main theme of the national competition is Edible Britain so Morpeth’s William Turner Garden, which commemorates the 16th Century herbalist and Father of English Botany who lived in the town, will be a prime spot for activity, along with the replica garden at Northumberland County Blind Association’s headquarters in Low Stanners.

Trustees of the Old Bakehouse Millennium Green are also keen to tap into the theme with their own planting project, while local Scouts will be growing herbs and vegetables in an allotment at Tommy’s Field.

Schools will be joining in by making their own herb gardens.

Ms Turner said: “We have been in touch with the schools and asked if they would grow something. We have some seeds from a manufacturer so we will be taking them into schools and asking them to sow them in unusual places.

“Some will be in pots, while others might have a small piece of land at the school they can use.

“The Mayor will go around in June to judge the best project and award his trophy.”

Flower displays in Carlisle Park and at the Clock Tower will be in the Suffragette colours of purple, white and green to commemorate the centenary of the death of Emily Davison.