TWO judges from Britain in Bloom were full of praise for Henley during a visit this week.
They singled out the record 300 hanging baskets and the efforts of Henley in Bloom to improve the appearance of the town each year with new ideas.
For the last two years Henley has won silver gilt and last year was just two points short of winning gold.
Judges Ian Beaney and Brendan Mowforth were given a two-and-a-half hour tour of the town on Wednesday as part of the Royal Horticultural Society competition.
This was led by Kellie Hinton, a town councillor and vice-chairman of Henley in Bloom, and Gareth Bartle, head of park services at the town council.
The judges admired the hanging baskets throughout the town, most of which were bought by businesses and residents with the support of the Henley Standard?s Growing for Gold campaign.
Yorkshireman Mr Mowforth, who last visited in 2013, said: ?The baskets, as always, are very, very good. They have a very high level of impact on anyone who is visiting the town because of the colour. They are well maintained as well.?
The judges were also impressed with how Henley in Bloom has maintained some of its older projects while introducing new ones, such as the ?green wall? on Leichlingen Pavilion in Mill Meadows and the makeover of the Reading Road roundabout.
Mr Beaney, from Northern Ireland, who also judged Henley last year, said: ?This year I noticed a lot more linkage between the different projects ? more elements are built into each other.
?That goes from the management of empty shops to the work done with church groups and the Berkshire College of Agriculture.
?I thought it was brave to take on a green wall and it will be interesting to see how it progresses.
?I thought Gainsborough was full of ideas, like shared tools and equipment. They really have progressed and it has got better and better each year there.
?I thought the sensory garden had changed a lot. The new look has made it much better.? Mr Mowforth added: ?There are a number of projects where Henley is starting to turn the grey in the town to green.
?Henley in Bloom has taken it on, brightened it up and improved it. It shows you can grow plants in areas that people might think you can?t. It might have only a small impact but it does quite a lot cumulatively.?
Mr Mowforth also praised the new silver birch tree project to improve air quality.
The judges were given lunch at the Little Angel pub in Remenham Lane with supporters of Henley in Bloom.
She added: ?It?s our third year in the competition and we?ve now done 10 hours of judging this year plus the lunches and presentations.
?The day went as well as we could have expected and the weather held off.
?I enjoyed showing Ian and Brendan around. They have both been here before, so we can show them certain areas where things have changed because of feedback.
?We have adapted and changed a lot of things from last year for the benefit of the town. ?Obviously it?s a relief for it all to be over but the work for next year will start tomorrow. We can?t enter next year but we will keep the projects going regardless ? we want to make Henley a better place to live.?
Henley was one of 70 places to be judged across 13 categories. It was in the town category, representing the Thames and Chilterns region, against six other places.