Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Flower power

HENLEY was labelled a “powerhouse” by judges from Thames and Chilterns in Bloom, as the town searches for

HENLEY was labelled a “powerhouse” by judges from Thames and Chilterns in Bloom, as the town searches for a fifth consecutive regional gold award.

Judges Peter Thompson and Norman Parker were shown round the town on Thursday last week.

The two-hour tour, led by Henley in Bloom chairwoman Kellie Hinton and park services manager Gareth Bartle, took in Market Place, part of the River Thames, Marsh Meadows, Mill Meadows, the Trinity Churchyard and Badgemore Primary School.

Mr Thompson, who lives in Peppard, said: “It’s always lovely to visit Henley, which has become a powerhouse within the Thames and Chilterns.

“You have been doing a fantastic job here for a number of years. You have got a lot of experience, which needs to be shared with the rest of the region.”

The judges were shown around the town’s many horticultural fixtures, including flower beds, the green wall at the Leichlingen Pavilion on Mill Meadows and the hanging baskets, which were supported by the Henley Standard’s Buy A Basket campaign

Mr Parker, from Stony Stratford, was judging Henley for the first time in a number of years. He said: “At Badgemore Primary School it was very interesting to see the forest school aspect. There is a lot of room for scope there.

“The area alongside the river was fantastic. I was pleased to see the Gardening Buddies working there. It has been a pleasure to come and see it.”

He added: “I will look forward to coming back and seeing what further developments have been made.”

Mr Thompson, who judged the town last year, added: “In the Marsh Meadows area they were not able to cut it because of the wet ground and it has been fantastic for it. It actually added another dimension to it.”

At the start of their tour they were welcomed by Councillor Hinton and Henley in Bloom committee member Caroline Langler at the Bull on Bell Street.

Cllr Hinton gave a 15-minute presentation and talked about the work of the Gainsborough Residents’ Association, the events Henley in Bloom are involved with and the fund which schools are able to apply to for horticulural projects. Badgemore, Trinity and Valley Road primary schools have all been handed grants. She also praised the relationship the Henley in Bloom committee has with the Henley Standard for promoting the work it does.

Later in the tour, the judges were taken round Marsh Meadows by park warden Chris Baldwin, who talked about the conservation work done in the area.

They were greeted at Mill Meadows by Elizabeth Hodgkin, who organises Henley in Bloom’s Gardening Buddies.

Members of the group had been out since 8am sprucing up spots across the town.

Mrs Hodgkin said: “This morning we concentrated on Mill Meadows, making sure the celebration beds were looking good and the sensory, twinning and rotary gardens were looking wonderful. People were stopping and saying it’s marvellous. Henley has a wonderful backdrop and we’re just adding to the picture.”

Jan Mirkowski gave the judges a quick tour of Fair Mile Vineyard, which he took over in 2012, and they were shown the views of the Chiltern Hills.

Mr Mirkowski said: “It’s a bit like an exam where the preparation has been more important. I’ve been cutting the grass and taking in the vines.”

The end of the tour was led by Tuc Ahmed, a governor at Badgemore Primary School. Henley Mayor Julian Brookes also met the judges at the school.

Mr Ahmed showed them round the grounds and the projects they had done in recent months such as new planters, removal of laurel and the school’s new storytelling area.

Volunteers and members of the Henley in Bloom committee then met the judges for lunch at the Argyll pub in Market Place.

After the meal there were speeches. Councillor Brookes said: “I want to say thank you to the judges for coming and for bringing the brilliant weather with them. I hope you’ve had a great day.”

Cllr Hinton, who also thanked all the volunteers for their hard work, added: “Thank you both for coming. It gives us the opportunity to show off our beautiful town we are proud of.”

Henley will find out whether it will add another gold to its trophy haul at a ceremony in September.

Last year, the town won gold at the national award finals for the first time and represented the UK in the Entente Florale competition, picking up a silver award.

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