Blooming Britain by Christine Dakin

October 18, 2013

in Articles, General Interest

Well, what do you think? Do you enjoy seeing our towns adorned like this? Or should we scrap it and find some better way to display our horticultural expertise?

Anne Wareham, editor 

Kenilworth town planting copyright Anne Wareham for thinkingardens


Christine Dakin:


You’ll remember the time when towns and cities are sprouting containers full of bright and colourful bedding plants. Hanging baskets, window boxes, giant concrete cylinders and brick built raised beds will be used to grow brash, short lived plants

Britain in Bloom by Christine Dakin for thinkingardens

Stainless steel window boxes ‘adorning’ metal railings

Many towns and villages welcome visitors by using oddly placed containers planted with bedding plants. Does this enhance the surroundings?

Britain in Bloom by Christine Dakin for thinkingardens

They will be mounted on lampposts, strung up to railings and plonked with no rhyme or reason to ‘enhance’ the look of the town. They require daily watering.

Britain in Bloom by Christine Dakin for thinkingardens

Might this be a pleasant place to sit? I’ve never seen the seat occupied

Local inhabitants are encouraged to enter into the spirit of beautifying their town by creating stunning front gardens.

Then, on a day in July, some local worthies will amble round the streets with clip-boards and make judgements. I got roped in one year and could gradually feel my spirits dwindling. It was such a grim experience but it was all done with great enthusiasm and self-importance by my fellow judges. Most front gardens consisted of a scrappy lawn with a thin ‘flower’ border around the edge. In general there was little attempt to make the space something special.

But lo! There were a few where the owners were clearly in a competitive frame of mind to the extent that the planting was done for the day of judgement and was orientated towards the road rather than for viewing from the house. Guess which gardens gained plenty of points? Since that time I’ve always been ‘unavailable due to other commitments’, I just couldn’t repeat the exercise.

Britain in Bloom by Christine Dakin for thinkingardens

Words fail me, but it’s not an unusual sight

Cash-strapped councils are withdrawing the funding in some areas, but, undeterred, local groups are fundraising to keep up the displays.

Our urban spaces do need greening up but wouldn’t it be better to plant trees and shrubs which would attract more insect life? Or add some sculptures or murals to sparkle up grey areas? And paint the ubiquitous railings in bright colours.

Christine Dakin

Portrait Christine Dakin copyright Christine Dakin for thinkingardens   Christine’s nursery website

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