Hopes are high that Morpeth will win a prestigious floral title for the tenth year in succession.
The team behind the bid for the Best Town award in the Northumbria in Bloom competition showed off the first stage of their working when spring judging took place on Monday.
As well as the crown, the partnership of Morpeth Town Council, Northumberland County Council, Morpeth Chamber of Trade and Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre has achieved gold medals in the last nine years.
Key to the success has been the efforts of dozens of volunteers and schools, businesses, organisations, Sanderson Arcade and Morpeth Bus Station have been successful in individual categories in recent years.
On Monday, the judges were shown displays in many parts of the town.
After viewing the crocus beds at Leslie’s View in Lancaster Park, they saw the Rotary Garden and spoke with Brenda East of King Edward VI School about the school’s botanical gardens project.
The Millennium Green off Newgate Street was next and they had a look around Sanderson Arcade before meeting Tom Ridley and other volunteers at the Northumberland County Blind Association’s headquarters in Low Stanners.
The judges were then taken to Benmar House in Stobhillgate to see the garden outside the MS Research and Relief Fund building. Whilst there, they met Dave Hunt from Coca Cola Enterprises who outlined what he and other staff did during a clean-up day in Morpeth last month.
The Cenotaph at Mafeking Park and beds at Deuchar Park followed. The tour finished at Carlisle Park, where the judges spoke with Emma Evans – the county council’s green spaces officer for the area – and various gardeners who help out in the park.
This year’s competition will be the last before Morpeth Town Council clerk Gillian Turner retires.
She said: “It was a stressful day as ever, but it went very well and the weather couldn’t have been nicer for the tour.
“The good conditions in recent weeks have helped the plants to bloom, particularly in Carlisle Park where the colours are so vibrant and stunning.
“The volunteers are very passionate about making sure Morpeth looks nice and, as a consequence, doing well in the Northumbria in Bloom contest.
“I’m hoping that my final year as clerk will include our tenth overall win in a row, another gold medal and success once again in the individual categories.
“The works and activities that are carried out for our bid bring different age groups together and they are a very good way of keeping fit.”
Northumberland County Council has applied for funding towards a market garden project in Carlisle Park this summer and the town council will be writing to local schools asking if they would like to set up a market garden style plot somewhere on their site.
In 2013, after coming very close on four occasions in previous years, Morpeth won the RHS Britain in Bloom Best Town crown, along with the gold standard and the Young People’s Award. Sanderson Arcade and the Chamber of Trade received the national competition’s Commercial Award.