Blooming lovely in Moseley
Mar 31 2008 By Stephanie Silk
Just who transforms otherwise plain villages and towns ready for the Britain in Bloom competitions? If it is not the local authorities it is a team of dedicated volunteers. Stephanie Silk reports from the floral frontline about Moseley's bid for glory.
We've counted the lampposts, changed the brackets, chosen the flowers and confirmed our order for the hanging baskets and window boxes to wow the judges.
Moseley is gearing up to meet the challenge of being first time finalists in the national Britain in Bloom campaign. Following last year's success in the Heart of England in Bloom competition, Moseley is now representing the region along with Solihull, Bridgnorth and Upton upon Severn.
Moseley is a vibrant urban village two miles south of Birmingham city centre at a major crossroads for commuter routes. The A435 might not be as picturesque as the River Severn but whilst we suffer from heavy traffic and the occasional tornado, at least we don't have to contend with damaging floods. It has an active and diverse population, a lively night time social scene and a strong sense of community.
In February, Natalie Higgins, Jenny Brewer and I went to Scarborough for "Burst into Bloom" - the launch of the RHS Britain in Bloom 2008. It was our introduction to "big time blooming" and we were determined to fly the flag for Moseley and glean as much information as possible on how to grow a winning entry.
Britain in Bloom has moved beyond chocolate box villages and floral clocks. The emerging themes of the day were the environment - cleanliness, conservation, sustainability, and greater community involvement.
The competition attracts more than 1,000 entries from small villages to large cities. Many are run directly by local authorities eg Solihull, Bridgnorth, and Wolverhampton, but others like Moseley in Bloom are community led initiatives entirely run by volunteers.
The seeds were sown four years ago when Natalie Higgins carried out a community consultation on behalf of Moseley Forum. This highlighted the desire and need to make Moseley cleaner and greener.
Natalie realised that Britain in Bloom could be an effective way to address the environmental issues that had come up in the consultation while at the same time bringing together the many different community groups and individuals who make up the "village". She started spreading the word and soon there was a whole team of like-minded and determined people.
A committee was born and with Natalie in the chair and an ever growing band of volunteers, we established good working relationships with councillors, council officers, businesses and other local groups with the aim of improving Moseley for everyone. It's been a steep learning curve.
We began to bloom in 2005 in the Neighbourhood Awards section of the Heart of England in Bloom. In 2006 and 2007 we won Silver Gilt Awards and last year were named overall winner in the Urban Communities category. This achievement propelled us, dazed and amazed, into the 2008 national finals (Heart of England in Bloom judging is in July and Nationals are during the first two weeks of August).
Moseley in Bloom is a win-win situation. Regardless of awards, the Village looks better, cleaner and greener. The results are tangible and there for all to see. It's not just for Judging Day, it's a year round aspiration and people are noticing. Just this week we received this welcome email:
"A thank you from the Moseley Society Committee who would like you to know that the host of little daffodils tossing their heads beside the A435 and fluttering and dancing in the breeze caused by the No. 50 buses is causing us all much pleasure. They are a real talking point, noticed and appreciated by us all."
It made all the hard work of planting 1,000 tete a tete daffodil bulbs last autumn worth-while.
We've also been busy during the winter with our trees campaign, the Moseley in Bloom response to the devastating tornado of 2005. Working together with our local councillors and the Birmingham Parks Department, we have organised the planting of 42 new street trees and 40 more as part of the Front Gardens initiative.
There's a lot to do. Apart from the planting, the potting and the plotting there is the litter, the graffiti and the fund-raising. Business Bloomers are pounding the pavements selling baskets, getting sponsorship, raising money selling plants and opening gardens and filling in the dreaded grant applications. And it's the end of March already!
* Stephanie is Moseley's Publicity Bloomer. For more information on the bid look up moseleyinbloom.org.uk