Green-fingered residents collected gardening gongs in early December at the Tower Hamlets in Bloom 2015 award ceremony in Mile End Park.
The Arts Pavilion played host to dozens of gardeners from across the borough who took part in the Tower Hamlets in bloom competition during the summer. At 44 years old, the competition is the borough’s oldest. From balconies, community gardens and allotments to patios, businesses and schools, the competition is open to anyone who makes the most of open spaces.
Categories included best allotment, best community growing site, best education and best wildlife friendly garden. The competition is not just for experienced gardeners but for schools, community organisations and novice gardeners alike. It is part of a nationwide scheme to encourage people to become interested in plants, wildlife and the environment.
Best individual wildlife garden, for the fifth year running, was won by Gary Howes and Andrew Whibley. Their amazing, flower-packed garden (pictured left), wowed the judges again, despite having been completely taken apart and put back together again last winter when rotten decking had to be replaced.
Spitalfields City Farm was the best community wildlife garden this year, narrowly beating Cable Street Community Gardens, Bethnal Green Nature Reserve and the Greening Brownfield Community Garden. The farm won a number of other awards, including the overall award for an organisation, recognising the work of its “dedicated hard working staff and volunteers who have helped create an amazing community central point, benefiting local schools, community groups and locals residents.”
Jackie Harris was the overall individual winner for 2015. Her citation says that her “willingness, creativity,
passion, and their love for gardening has not gone unnoticed by members of the public. Jackie has a strong passion for gardening and over the years the judges have observed her front balcony area develop with more variety of planting.”
Two individuals who have contributed a lot to the borough’s green space and biodiversity received special recognition. Melvyn Smith from Winterton House Organic Garden (pictured left), won the Gardener of the Year Award for hard work over the years in transforming a disused derelict residential space into a wildlife-rich community garden, and also helping set up a farm.
In a similar vein, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Margaret Cox from Teesdale & Hollybush TRA, who has kept Bethnal Green Nature Reserve going for many years, as well as leading numerous greening projects on the estate.
Mayor John Biggs said: “People don’t always realise just how much green space there is in Tower Hamlets, and how many dedicated people keep our green spaces looking great. The Tower Hamlets in Bloom awards are a long-time local tradition and a great way of celebrating the people who put time and skill into giving us open spaces to be proud of.”
Cllr Asma Begum, cabinet member for culture added, “The Tower Hamlets in Bloom competition celebrated gardening in all its variety, from well-kept front lawns to allotments and community growing sites, as well gardens for business and gardens that encourage wildlife. Well-deserved congratulations to all the winners!”