Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Help plea as town prepares to re-enter bloom contest

WATLINGTON is set to enter this year’s Thames and Chilterns in Bloom competition after a two-year hiatus — but organisers say they need more volunteers.

Terry Jackson, who chairs Watlington in Bloom, also wants to revive the town’s open gardens event and horticultural show, both of which last took place in 2015.

The group took a break last year due to the amount of work for the committee.

Since then three new people have joined but more helpers are needed to spread the workload.

Mrs Jackson said: “I think we will try to enter this year but it could be that if we don’t get more numbers we won’t be able to.

“If we do, we have a good chance of doing well because Watlington is such a gorgeous town — as long as it’s clean and tidy.

“It’s down to people if we do enter as we need to be able to show the judges around and do 3D display boards and a PowerPoint presentation.

“We also need to do street cleaning, watering and make the place look nice. It’s a good way for the community to work together and be proud — and it does make a difference.

“If the streets are clean and tidy and the place looks nice and cared for then it will also look better for visitors.

“The in bloom ethos is supposed to be community involvement. We want people to be involved and take ownership of their town and feel that pride.

“Our ethos is to be environmentally sound. Our planters are planted with perennials. They don’t need as much work, they attract insects and you’re not throwing them out in six months and starting again.”

The open gardens event, where residents open their gardens to create a trail for visitors, raises money for Watlington in Bloom’s plants and equipment.

The horticultural show, which features classes for fruit, vegetables and flowers, has previously been held at both the Watlington Club and the home of actors Jeremy Irons and his wife Sinead Cusack in Hill Road.

Mrs Jackson, a parish councillor, said: “We’d love to do it as people miss both the show and the open gardens.”

She said that she and her husband Keith had kept Watlington in Bloom going for the past two years.

They have been joined by  Steph Van de Pette, who is also a parish councillor, and residents Lesley Wyldbore and Helen Fowler, although the latter is due to move to Australia in the summer while Mrs Wyldbore recently started a business.

Mrs Jackson said: “We need more people. It has basically been my husband and me for the last couple of years so we have been concentrating on watering the planters and keeping things going.

“We trying to get people to adopt planters and take on the watering so we can then do some of the more fun stuff like the open gardens and the show.

“I really don’t know what would happen if Keith and I stopped. The plants would all die because the planters wouldn’t get watered. People think we’re a big organisation and we’re not. When we’re watering during the summer it is very hard work.”

The town has 16 planters located in the car park, around the town hall and at the library, the war memorial and near the public toilets.

There are also about half a dozen roundels -— planted areas around trees — that need to be tended to.

Mrs Jackson added: “If people who live near the car park watered some of the planters that would take so much pressure off us.

“They don’t have to do a lot as every little bit helps. Even if people just looked after their frontage it would help.”

The group will need to enter this year’s Thames and Chilterns in Bloom contest by March.

To volunteer, call Mrs Jackson on (01491) 613362 or email her at tjacks@waitrose.com

l Watlington last entered the regional competition in 2014 when it won a silver gilt in the large village category. It also won two It’s Your Neighbourhood community group awards in the national contest.

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