Melton has made a strong case for a coveted gold award in this year’s East Midlands In Bloom contest with residents, businesses, community groups, the town estate and the borough council joining forces to brighten up the town with a series of stunning floral arrangements.
Judges spent a number of hours touring the area on Wednesday to assess the quality of displays throughout the town centre and the green-fingered work of schoolchildren and organisations such as the museum and Brooksby Melton College.
This year’s theme is ‘Our Town’, with arrangements incorporating the borough’s coat of arms colours of red, yellow, white, green and black.
The town’s planters were planted up in the distinctive colours at the beginning of last month.
Members of the Melton In Bloom - a group of volunteers who co-ordinate the annual entry for the In Bloom competition - expect to hear the results of the judging in September.
Former chair, and group stalwart, Brian Hodder, told the Melton Times: “The last time we asked the RHS for an assessment was in 2017 when we were awarded a silver gilt, the highest award before a gold.
“At that time we were just three marks short of getting a gold after several silver awards in previous years.
“So naturally we were keen to get a gold award this year as we usually enter in alternate years to cope with the workload involved.”
Brian praised the work of Melton Times columnist, Marie Walters, a horticultural specialist and a fellow stalwart of the group over the last 17 years.
He said: “Marie deserves much of the praise for our success and a gold award would be very well earned for her and a boost for all the other hard working 20 or so
Melton area volunteers and organisations like Melton Matters, the town estate and the borough council.”
Councillor Leigh Higgins, the borough council’s deputy leader, said “I wholeheartedly support the work of Melton in Bloom; their tireless efforts in the town every year help create an attractive destination that visitors will remember and want to come back to time and time again.
“This year I know all those involved are pulling together stronger than ever, chasing that gold standard award that represents the pinnacle of achievement for In Bloom groups.
“The commitment and hard work that everyone puts in is tremendous and no matter what award is achieved, they all deserve a golden thanks.”
The judges started their tour outside the council office in Parkside before making their way up the Kings Highway to St Mary’s Church.
They also walked through Market Place and King Street, where they viewed a striking ‘Medieval Bed’ sponsored by BeerHeadZ, which has a micropub nearby.
Six of the town’s schools created floral displays on wheelbarrows and they were on show in Market Place with those made by staff at Melton Carnegie Museum, the community allotment group, Brooksby Melton College and Melton and Oakham Waterways Society (MOWS).
Judges also toured High Street, the Memorial Gardens, and staff at both the Kettleby Cross pub and Richard Barnes Funeral Directors, which have both entered the best business categories.
They then took a cab, sponsored by Manor Taxis, to Gretton Court to look at work in the sensory garden before going on to an allotment, the country park dog agility course and Mr Goddard’s home in Tamar Road which has been entered for the best front garden class.
Mayor of Melton, Councillor Malise Graham, then provided refreshments for the judges back at the council offices, where photos were on display to illustrate the work which has been carried out on floral arrangements over the last 18 months.
Community group Melton Matters had volunteers out litter picking in the town in the days before the judges arrived and they also swept paths around the church and Parkside.
The borough council works closely with a local nursery which grows and looks after the display plants until they are strong enough to be planted out in the tubs and baskets scattered around the town.
With over 2,700 plants and 146 containers of all kinds including hanging baskets and barrier troughs, the council’s environmental maintenance team looks after and nurtures the plants over the summer months.
All major sites have been spruced, including Melton Railway Station, where plants provided by Brooksby Melton College have been nurtured in five platform tubs, attracting favourable comments from many travellers using the trains.
Staff at Cleaner Communities teamed up in June with representatives of Melton BID and the borough council to give the town a thorough spring clean ahead of the In Bloom judging.
The BID also offered businesses within the judging area a free galvanised bucket, to plant them up and enhance the look of the town even further.