Being invited to help with the judging day for Evington In Bloom was a pleasure. It meant I could visit Evington and talk to people about their contribution, and to take lots of photographs the judges as they toured the sites where gardeners are making a valuable contribution to civic life in Evington. The Royal Horticultural Society champions community building through communal gardening and horticulture.
As I got off the number twenty-two bus, Helen was busy at work cleaning an information board. I was soon pushing a wheelbarrow over to the library for Helen to sweep around the planters. As a competition, Evington is judged not only on the floral arrangements, but on the upkeep and maintenance of the environment around them.
When the judges arrived, we had to contend with a pigeon that wanted to build a nest above where they had been asked to sit. The pigeon was bringing one twig at a time over, and it looked determined that this would be where it was going to nest. Let’s hope that this was a lucky sign that the day was going well.
Then we were off on the tour with the judges. Guided by Chris, we headed to the War Memorial first, then around into the Village Green. We were lucky with the weather, which was sunny but cooler than it had been. Chris was explaining how Friends of Evington have an arrangement to help maintain planters, flower beds and verges around the neighbourhood, and that different approaches are taken, such as the wild-flower embankment leading from the Village Green to the Cedars pub.
We stopped off at the pub, not for a beer, but to look at how the pub’s pond and its surrounding vegetation has become a feature that entertains the diners. Then we pressed on to towards Evington Park, and on the way we looked at the planters outside the shops, which give the highstreet a much-needed lift – even if the visiting cars and delivery vans do tend to block the pavement.
Our walk through the grounds of the park up to Evington House took in the bowling green, and then onto Burnaby Gardens and the fruit garden. Chris even had the opportunity to give directions to some passing ramblers.
While the judges had a short-driven tour, I headed down to the village hall, because the next leg of the tour was to St Denys to view the Jubilee Garden, and to see how magnificent Piggy’s Hollow looks, with the wind blowing through the grass and the branches of the trees.
While the judges went on to visit the ‘best’ front gardens, I went back to the village hall, where afternoon tea was being got ready. Harkesh did a magnificent job of providing a proper tea, with sandwiches, tea and coffee, and as this is Leicester, some very tasty samosas. It was lovely to see so many people sitting and chatting, and enjoying the summer afternoon.
We had a short message of thanks and support from Claudia Webb MP, who remarked that she thought that the community spirit shown by being involved with Evington In Bloom is an example to the rest of the city.
Afterwards, when I was sitting on the bus heading back into Leicester, I looked through the photos that I’d taken, and felt that we have to do more than just talk about civic pride and fostering a sense of belonging in our communities, and that projects like Evington In Bloom are a great example of how our intentions can be put into practice. I felt very welcome.