Thankfully, the impending train strikes didn't affect our judges' travel and our RHS Britain in Bloom judging day went ahead on Tuesday, 01 August.
We picked them up from Crewe station the previous evening, having travelled from Eynsford in Kent and dropped them at the Crown Hotel in Nantwich. The Audlem in Bloom committee of Neil, Suzie, Ian, Bryony and Sam met them in the evening for a meal, where we got to know each other.
On Tuesday morning we picked them up from the hotel at 08.30 and started the tour of the village by parking at Emberton Place where we walked towards the school via the path that leads to the school. The schoolchildren had previously carried out an 'identify' project, labelling up insects they had seen, trees they identified etc. At the school, they met with Sally Ann Spooner and Bryony, where they delivered an excellent presentation on how the schoolchildren work in, and use, the school garden. We are always time-restricted on judging days; however, Sally Ann achieved the task in the allotted ten minutes.
We went to the cemetery from the school, albeit for a brief unscheduled visit. The judges are always impressed with the cemetery and how well-maintained it is.
We gave a 25-minute presentation to the judges on how we hopefully meet the judging criteria in horticulture, community and environment. The presentation was followed with a 10-minute talk by Tracey from ADCA on the work they do in the community--many thanks to ADCA for letting us use their Thornton room for the presentation.
As we started the next stage of the village tour we explained how most of the plants in the Public Hall annexe bed had to be replaced this year due to winter dieback. The next stop was at the Millenium Bed, where one of the judges commented on how well we had colour-matched the flowers to the Finalist banner. We left it hanging that we planned the flowers months in advance and well before we knew we were to be finalists.
Moving down to The Square, they stopped to admire Geoff and Olive's garden, as has happened on other occasions with other judges. One judge asked about the doors under the Public Hall, saying they looked like a fire station, which we told them it was once.
The judges admired St James' Church planting, as well as the church building, as is often the case. After a quick talk on the sensory beds at the Lord Combermere pub, we moved towards The Beech Tree bed, explaining that it is an ongoing project of finding which plants will sit there comfortably. They admired the artwork and the fact that a naming competition is running for the Scout & Guide groups – the winning entry will receive £100.
The next stop was at Turnpike Field to meet Adrian Leighton. We handed them over to Adrian, who talked them through the flora, fauna, and other aspects of the field.
The last planned stop was to meet with Nancy-May Goodwin at the Methodist Church, where, again, we took a back seat to allow Nancy-May to showcase the work done in the garden and the building. Once again, two very impressed judges. Tick!
Nearing the end of the tour, we walked on through the village and stopped as the judges admired Andrew Barton's efforts on improving the area around BCBM.
We finished the morning with a coffee stop at The Tearooms at No: 11 to allow us to absorb their initial views and take any feedback on board. However, we will receive a detailed report later in the year with an awards ceremony in October.
Our last duty was to take the judges to Nantwich train station to continue their judging work in Holt with their final stop on Guernsey.
Both judges took many photos -- they said this was a good thing. So, fingers crossed!