READY TO GROW: Members of Gainford In Bloom are planning to launch their own gardening contest in the spring TM pic
READY TO GROW: Members of Gainford In Bloom are planning to launch their own gardening contest in the spring TM pic

GREEN-fingered volunteer gardeners who have taken to tidying up overgrown areas of Gainford have launched their own “In Bloom” contest.

The newly formed Gainford In Bloom group, with the support of the parish council, are hoping residents will embrace the competition that will have cash prizes for four different categories.

The group, which held a public meeting earlier in the month to outline their plans for 2024, hopes to encourage residents to take part as a pre-cursor to entering the Royal Horticultural Society’s competition, It’s Your Neighbourhood, in the summer.

In Bloom founder member Wendy Withers said: “It’s really early stages of Gainford In Bloom, but come the spring we will be promoting the competition so that people can get started. There are lots of gardens in Gainford.

“The group really evolved from the community herb garden project that we did, tidying up an unused patch of land. We just went from there and have been tidying up different areas as and when we can because there are places in the village have become overgrown. As we know, budgets are really stretched at Durham County Council and things have gone by the wayside.”

As well as maintaining the herb garden, members of the fledgling group have tidied up various areas in the village, including School Lane, and are planning more work when the weather allows.

Ms Withers said: “There are lots of people in the village who look after the village, such as people who pick up litter when they are out walking their dogs.

“Realistically we won’t be able to get anything done in the winter, but we can plan.”

The group has won support from members of the parish council, who agreed to provide £250 to pay for equipment as well as sponsor the new competition prize fund.

Ms Withers said: “We want to encourage everyone in the village to look after their own little areas.

“So, we thought to encourage them, we would have our own Gainford in Bloom.

“The parish council agreed to sponsor the prize money.”

There will be four categories with prizes for the best front garden, best community or commercial display, best small display, such as a hanging basket or window box, and one for the best kept allotment.

Ms Withers said: “The idea is that the gardens, hanging baskets and such will be visible from the footpath or road.”

Specific dates for judging of the competition are to be finalised but In Bloom volunteers hope the date could coincide with biannual open gardens event run by the church in July.

She added: “We don’t have a judge yet but it would be great if we could get someone like Monty Don to come along.”