A celebration of our Garden Isle and all those that work hard to maintain it – Wight in Bloom has long been a key date in the Island’s events calendar.
Here, we find out more about its history and relevance to Island life today:
The event saw more than 100 people and organisations taking part — making 2019 one of its best yet.
The popular contest, sponsored by Southern Vectis, sees gardens big and small go head to head to be crowned in a variety of categories. This year, the event culminated in an awards ceremony at Liz Earle, where Alan Titchmarsh — TV presenter and patron of Wight In Bloom — handed out the prizes.
The competition had previously been run by the IW Council, and dates back to the 1980s, with Wightlink sponsoring it for much of its time. Its intention has always been to encourage individuals and businesses to use gardens of all shapes and sizes to enhance the ‘Garden Isle’.
Ten years ago, when the IW Council was forced to tighten its belt, the support for Wight in Bloom ceased and Chairman Peggy Jarman stepped in to keep the competition going.
Sponsors including Red Funnel, Visit Isle of Wight, Liz Earle and the IW County Press have supported the popular competition in recent years, and this year, Southern Vectis took over as the headline sponsor — a great fit, with sustainability now a core judging criteria.
Nowadays, the overall winner of Wight In Bloom is awarded the ‘Peggy Jarman Trophy’, in honour of the former honorary president, who sadly passed away in 2016.
At this year’s ceremony, Alan Titchmarsh said: “It becomes more and more obvious as the years go by, the value of greenery, in any environment. Whether it’s domestic, outside your back door or even in a window box, a pot, or on a larger scale. The Island is blessed with some tremendous gardens, at Osborne and Mottistone, lots of larger places to visit. Places like Robin Hill where you can go and get out in to the countryside — and people not on the Island forget the size of it.”
Presenting the awards alongside Visit Isle of Wight chair, Ian Griffiths, Alan said the contribution to making the Island look better was vital: “We can all do our bit and it doesn’t matter how small your patch is, or if there’s no patch at all. Window boxes, even hanging baskets, pots – do something to cheer people up, to cheer yourself up.”
This year’s overall winner and recipient of the Peggy Jarman Trophy was 90-year-old Frances Brett, of Binstead, who explained why gardening was so important to him: “I wanted to come in to this competition and I wanted to win it, because it might be the last year I put all the effort in. But I think without it, without the garden, I’d be so bored and go downhill.”
Judges recognise the motivation shown by Island residents and businesses: “The gardens this year have been of an exceptionally high standard. We have been delighted to see new entrants coming forward as well as some old favourites. “In this year, when we on the Island celebrate our biosphere status, it has been particularly good to see the gardens embracing the new sustainability category which, with 20% of the marks, is now a significant part of the competition. It is perhaps no surprise that some of the highest-scoring gardens have been those that are using water and other resources carefully and considering how they can accommodate wildlife. Well done to all the entrants, and we are, as ever, so grateful to those many gardeners who continue to make the effort to keep our beautiful Island in bloom.”
Other 2019 winners include Robin Hill as Best Large Tourist Attraction Garden and a first, second and third place for Shanklin in the Best Small Commercial Garden categor
y. The Clifton took the top place ahead of The Carlton and Havelock Hotel, while Haven Hall in Shanklin and The Royal in Ventnor tied first place for the Large Commercial Garden award.
Richard Tyldsley, general manager at Southern Vectis said: “We’re really proud to be sponsoring Wight in Bloom 2019. We really welcome community projects at Southern Vectis and anything to help the Island be more bright and attractive, whether you’re on top of an open top bus or you’re just going for a walk , anything that makes it greener, brighter and adds some colour is really fantastic for the Island.”
The Wight In Bloom ceremony also celebrated the winners of sister competition ‘Line In Bloom’, where organiser Bobby Locke, from the Community Rail Partnership, announced Broadlea Primary School as the winners, with their display at Lake train station.
All finalists received Liz Earle product bags and were given 14 day free travelcards from Southern Vectis. In addition to these prizes, St George’s School in Newport, winner of Best Young People Initiative, and Abbeyfield Clifton House in Cowes, Best Care-Giving Complex Garden, were each given a Southern Vectis bus for the day to take students and residents out on a trip of their choice.
Wight In Bloom overall winner Frances Brett, centre,
with his daughter, Julie, left, and Alan Titchmarsh, right.