Thursday, 28 October 2021

Competition for best front gardens set for comeback

A COMPETITION to highlight the best front gardens in Henley could be held again this year.

The annual contest didn’t take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic but the organisers wants to revive it this summer as residents have spent so much time on their gardens.

The Henley in Bloom committee believes it will be possible as the judges will be able to observe social distancing.

Helen Barnett, the Henley town and community manager, said: “There’s still a big feeling that we should do something in Henley, especially at the moment with the amount of effort that people are putting into their gardens.

“A front garden competition is something for keen gardeners to do.”

The pubs and restaurants gardens contest could also be held again if the businesses have opened in time once the covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.

Caroline Langler, a member of the committee member, will organise the event as she has done it before and a sub-committee will be formed to discuss the choice of judges and what criteria the gardens will be judged on.

Depending on the number of entries, the competition could be put forward for a category of the Thames & Chiltern in Bloom competition.

The committee has decided not to enter the town category of the competition for a second year running due to the covid restrictions and the additional pressure it would put on the town council’s park services staff. The town won gold in the competition in 2019 for the seventh time in eight years.

The other regular events that could still go ahead this year are the Henley spring clean, the seed swap and gardeners get-together and the Henley Chelsea Fringe festival.

The committee want the spring clean to be a year-long campaign led by Councillor Laurence Plant rather than a one-day event.

It was previously known as Hit Litter day and involved community groups and residents equipped with litter-pickers and bags to clean up the dirty spots throughout the town.

The committee has been advised that it cannot hand out the grabbers or bin liners under the coronavirus guidelines.

Ms Barnett said: “Instead, the campaign would encourage people when they are on walks around the countryside to take a bag and pick up rubbish as they go along.

“We could do a competition where residents post a picture of themselves with the collected rubbish and they could win a prize.”

The gardeners get-together, where people swap seeds and share gardening knowledge, could go ahead virtually.

The Chelsea Fringe organisers will be holding some virtual events but the floral flotilla, which normally takes place in May and includes a parade of decorated boats, has been cancelled.

Other Henley in Bloom projects will now continue in line with the government guidelines.

The replanting of the primroses at the Townlands Memorial Hospital in York Road is due to take place in the next few weeks. The Friends of Townlands Hospital removed the flowers in 2014 before the demolition and redevelopment work began.

This was organised by former mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin, who ran the Gardening Buddies volunteer group.

Since then the plants have been growing in volunteers’ gardens in the woodland behind Tilebarn Close and on the chalk banks in Valley Road.

A number of replacement trees will also be planted, starting in Tilebarn Close.

A fruit tree could be planted in honour of Malcolm Dodds, who was chairman of Henley in Transition in 2011, for his contribution to the town.

The committee also hopes to hold a School in Bloom campaign.

It will also produce a map of where bulbs and seeds are planted so that if they are dug up by utility companies they can be replaced.

The committee also discussed creating a “bee highway”.

All the projects will be photographed and documented for the town’s Bloom portfolio.

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