Community volunteers are blooming marvellous

Brighton & Hove's parks and cemetery gardens have won a spade full of accolades from the South and South East in Bloom awards.

The awards were achieved thanks to the Brighton & Hove City In Bloom voluntary community group working with the council's parks and gardens staff.

Preston Park rock garden, also known as the Rookery, picked up one of the coveted Gold awards in the Small Parks category at the first time of entering. The rock garden, in one of the city's most popular parks, is the largest municipal rock garden in the UK and the waterfall, pond, and landscaping has been lovingly restored with plants of year-round interest, including the winter months.

Beacon Hill Nature Reserve also picked up a Gold as the Large Conservation Area of the Year.

Old Steine, another first time entry in the Small Parks category, was awarded a Silver Gilt and Kipling Gardens in Rottingdean a Silver. Woodvale Cemetery picked up a Silver Gilt award in the Large Cemetery category and Brunswick Town In Bloom won a Silver Gilt in the Urban Communities class. 

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the environment committee, said: “Many congratulations to the City In Bloom volunteers and Friends of Parks groups who are active across the city on a range of colourful projects. Thousands of people use our parks and gardens for recreation or peaceful contemplation but perhaps don't realise what goes on behind the scenes to keep them looking good all year round. Awards like these give well-deserved recognition for the volunteers who work with our parks teams to restore and maintain the city's open spaces.”

The parks were judged against a variety of criteria, including how they enhance the local environment.

Denise Taylor, chair of Brighton & Hove City In Bloom, said: “When there is so much focus on the withdrawal of funding in most sectors across the city it is wonderful to be able to celebrate areas where the importance of the environment we live in is acknowledged.

“The 'Bloom' title is now probably outmoded as in recent years competitions like these, including our own citywide gardening competitions, have increasingly assessed not only horticultural practices but also biodiversity and management of the local environment. We will continue to support and encourage these practices amongst the wider community."

“Congratulations to Cityparks for managing these areas to these high standards and to the volunteers that work tirelessly for their communities alongside them.”