MORPETH was at its blooming best as national judges arrived to rate its flower power.
The town has already been judged for Northumbria In Bloom, with the result due next month.
But this week it was the turn of the Britain In Bloom judges to come to town. They were given a tour of the area to look at planting schemes, heard about the business and community efforts to enhance the entry, and had a closer look at Carlisle Park.
Judge Sue Wood said: “One of the things that really comes out is the community involvement in Morpeth — there are so many groups doing so much around the town.
“We can see they have worked really hard to involve as many groups as possible and what really comes out is the amount of pride within the town. It has been brilliant to see and we have had a great time.”
Fellow judge Nigel Bishop added: “The whole system is based on criteria and there is no doubt about it, they are fully aware of what it involves. There is horticulture, environment and community, and all three have been fantastic for this group.”
Les English, who leads the bloom effort for the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, said: “We are keeping our fingers crossed. It has been an excellent day and the judges seemed to be pleased at the amount of baskets and the quality of the baskets that businesses put out.
“It has been a difficult year for the chamber, but we still put £11,000 in and dug deep to support Morpeth In Bloom.”
It is the fourth time that Morpeth has been chosen to go forward to the Britain In Bloom competition in recent years after achieving silver gilt ratings in the competition in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Guernsey in October.
• Meanwhile, residents in Ponteland hope that greater community involvement will help it to finally win gold in Northumbria In Bloom.
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The town council-led team has won three silver gilt certificates in recent competitions, but now it aims to go one better.
A range of colourful displays are on show and the judges were impressed with what they saw.
Volunteers helped with the rockery, part of Merton Way and the wildflower meadow in the park, and members of the public took part in litter picks. Businesses stepped up their support in the village and Darras Hall areas.
Coun Joyce Butcher, who showed the judges around, said: “It was one of the worst days we could have had weather wise, but the judges kept going and they were very complimentary.
“They mentioned the increased community involvement and they were impressed with the boxes and tubs put out by some of the shops, pubs and other businesses.
“There were a lot of displays along Main Street and a new permanent feature is the stunning basket trees next to the park entrance.
“Combining the bloom bid with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee meant there was more interest in taking part and we’re grateful to Waitrose for putting in a new planting area and offering to help with litter pick activities.
“Hopefully, this extra effort means we will get a gold award for the first time.”
The Diamond Inn, Cecil Court and a joint effort by Ponteland’s Tennis and Bowling Clubs have been entered for the special categories.