Planters poised as Ballymena set for Britain in Bloom 2018.

Ballymena has been announced as one of the finalists for the 54th Britain in Bloom competition.

The nationwide competition pits rural villages, urban corners and city centres against each other in a range of criteria. They then battle it out for the top spot in horticultural know-how, community engagement, efforts to bolster biodiversity and climate change adaptation.

Finalists are put forward to the national finals based on their progress locally and will be scored by a team of RHS judges this summer.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Paul Reid said, “I am delighted that Ballymena will complete in the 2018 Britain in Bloom competition alongside 75 other entrants from across the UK. Ballymena did well at the 2017 Britain in Bloom awards winning a Silver Gilt. The town scored highly in all key ‘in bloom’ criteria of horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.

“In particular, the judges praised Ballymena’s planting schemes, floral displays, and the transformation of the Church Street 3 car park. The community events held at Ecos Nature Park drew a special mention with the judges particularly delighted with the wildflowers along Summerfield Bridge, the bird-ringing carried out at the Constant Effort Site and the Biodiversity Summer School. I am confident Ballymena will do well in the 2018 competition.”

A new awards category has also been introduced for town and city centres this year in recognition of the vital role green spaces in urban areas play and their positive impact on health and wellbeing, flood prevention and wildlife.

Darren Share, Chair of the Britain in Bloom judging panel, said, “The Britain in Bloom campaign galvanises communities and provides the driving force for thousands of gardening enthusiasts across the country. Britain in Bloom groups work tirelessly throughout the year to tackle local issues and improve the place they call home. Everyone benefits from the work these groups carry out and I have seen first-hand the positive impact Britain in Bloom has had in bringing communities together. Britain in Bloom groups work tirelessly to tackle local issues and improve the place they call home.”

The RHS Britain in Bloom judges will visit the finalists in August with the winners of each category, ranging from gold to bronze, announced at an awards ceremony in Belfast on 19 October.

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