On Thursday 28th February three of us attended the Southwest in Bloom (SWiB) Spring Seminar in Chippenham.)
The main reason for being there was to hear about the revised judging guidelines to be introduced
In the past, marking was out of a possible total of 200 points.
50% of those 200 points could be allocated to Horticulture;
25% went to environmental aspects and
25 % went to community involvement
From this year, the new total has been reduced to 100 points -- to make marking tighter and more
accurate -- and the proportions have been modified to:
Horticulture 40%; Environment 30% and Community 30%.
This new system has been five years in the making and has been thoroughly trialled for three years
The Bloom Theme for 2019 is Water -- Too Much & Too Little. Judges and Assessors will be looking
for creative use of water and how communities cope when there is too much rainfall -- or when there
is not enough.
We would love to hear from anyone who has ideas about how this might be achieved or who
would like to be involved with the planning and hard work which we hope will achieve another
gold medal and cup or two come the Awards in October!
In addition to the Southwest in Bloom updates, the Seminar gave us two extremely interesting
speakers during the day who inspired and delighted the audience: Fergus Beeley, and Jekka McVicar.
Fergus Beeley is a former producer with the BBC Natural History Unit who has turned his attention
to the "massive crash in biodiversity in Britain over the last ten years". He is behind the development
of the Blue Campaign which is encouraging everyone to become involved in 're-wilding' Britain.
In 2017 he ran a pilot programme with Sodbury in Bloom (Chipping Sodbury, Glos) and South Gloucestershire Council
In 2018, it was rolled out across South Gloucestershire with Butterfly Conservation and Eco-schools becoming involved
In 2019 it's going nationwide, supported by Chris Packham, the Wildlife Trusts and #30dayswild (throughout June).
"BLUE campaigns to keep at least 10% of your lawn uncut through summer, letting a variety of
native plant species grow through. These 'weeds' are the food plants for a variety of caterpillar
species, and therefore as well as increasing the number of moths and butterflies that will emerge,
also provide a vital source of food for small birds."
The 'Blue' relates to the Blue Heart symbol which is used to mark an area being left for nature to
manage. Understandably, some people feel it looks untidy but as Fergus said, "sadly nature is
untidy". The benefits of fewer manicured lawns and pristine flower beds as gardeners leave small
patches to nature mean:
100% value to the ecology
Improved biodiversity in the immediate area
Individual empowerment in wildlife conservation
Support for the good ethics and reputations of gardeners
Support for pride in the place and its environment
Improved wellness: mental and physical health
To read more about the Blue Campaign go to the website :
and their Facebook page:
Jekka McVicar, of Jekka's herbs, is an extremely successful purveyor of herbs in every way you could
think of. Jekka called her presentation 'From French Tarragon to Vice President'. The visual
presentation was accompanied by a condensed history of how she went from one to the other in
30+ years. Her wry sense of humour added to her delivery. She and her family have worked hard to
develop their business from backyard cultivation of French tarragon at their home in Bristol to their
ever-growing nursery which produces over 500 varieties of herbs, herbetum, school, café, supper
club and mail order business.
Jekka has been a successful exhibitor at many RHS Shows, mainly Chelsea and Hampton Court where
she has amassed a fine collection of Gold Medals and Tudor Awards. She is certainly someone for
any aspiring RHS Competition applicant to look up to. She has also been involved in creating award
winning gardens for a group supporting the homeless and other charities.
Jekka's son has recently rebranded her business as simply 'Jekka's'. The herb farm (Rose Cottage,
Shellards Lane, Alveston, Bristol BS35 3SY) is open for visitors on their Open Days. The first for this year are Friday 5th & Saturday 6th April 2019 -