Flower power needed to add those colourful touches for spring launch

Trinity Art Gallery Jane Churchill 2

Tunbridge Wells is set to become a blooming lovely place again with the news that the town is once again entering the Royal Horticultural Society’s regional In Bloom competition.

And to get it off to a great start, volunteers planted 800 bulbs in three rows on the long strip of grass beside the war memorial statue.

The plan is for the plantings to appear one after the other, with crocuses first, daffodils second and finally tulips, adding an array of colour outside the Town Hall.

“Green shoots are starting to appear, but with the strange weather we have been having we are not quite sure when the flowers will appear, or if they will pop up in the right order, so everyone will have to keep watching them,” says Royal Tunbridge Wells In Bloom committee member Katharina Mahler-Bech.

Tunbridge Wells has always done well in the annual RHS South and South Eastern In Bloom competition, which the committee – headed by Mayor David Elliott – hopes to maintain.

There is also a separate local competition open to residents and business to enter with a variety of categories ranging from Best Basket or Allotment to Best Café/Pub/Club and Best Shop Front.

The more who take part, the prettier the town will look before it enters the RHS competition as a whole in April, with the judges arriving in July.

Sponsors are needed, too, but donations need not just be monetary, says Mrs Mahler-Bech, who revived the competition in 2010 with her late husband Daniel.

“The more sponsorship the better, but it can be in kind, too,” she says. “Businesses could donate a room for an event, or provide catering, or anything else that would be helpful.

“Royal Victoria Place is kindly giving us space for a stall for the launch, for instance.

“We are all volunteers so all donations go straight to the competition entry, and it is a big community effort.

“We build up a portfolio showing the blooms through the spring and summer, and all the projects people have been involved in,” says Mrs Mahler-Bech. “Our Facebook page provides a running archive.

“You can get sponsorship forms from our website, or our Facebook page, or from various places around town, such as Gateway.”

Anyone can get involved with anything from a plant pot outside the door to massive lawns surrounded by colourful borders.

“The rebirth of the RTW In Bloom competition came just after the 2008 recession, and the thinking was that if people don’t have the money for painting their houses, maybe they do have enough for a pot or a basket on the balcony or windowsill,” says Mrs Mahler-Bech.

Working in conjunction with the Council’s Parks Department, Royal Tunbridge Wells In Bloom also thrives through the valuable involvement of all the ‘Friends’ groups around town, such as Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, Friends of Calverley Grounds and Friends of Woodbury Park Cemetery, who help provide floral ‘hotspots’.

For more information on RTW In Bloom, visit: www.royaltunbridgewellsinbloom.org.uk

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