Gardening judges check-up on Sunderland as city guns for Britain in Bloom

National Britain in Bloom Judges Jon Wheatley and Rae (correct spelling) Beckwith being shown the flower gardens in Mowbray Park by Councillor James Blackburn, watched by Friends of the Park Sylvia Smith, and John Shipley (right)

National Britain in Bloom Judges Jon Wheatley and Rae (correct spelling) Beckwith being shown the flower gardens in Mowbray Park by Councillor James Blackburn, watched by Friends of the Park Sylvia Smith, and John Shipley (right)

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JUDGES have visited to see if Sunderland is blooming.

Officials from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Northumbria in Bloom awards came to the city yesterday, after it earned a place in the best large city category of RHS Britain in Bloom.

Sunderland Council cabinet member for city services, Coun James Blackburn, welcomed Rae Beckwith and Jon Wheatley from the RHS for the national judging round.

He introduced them to the Friends of Mowbray Park group at the South Terrace beds, where voluntary organisations and schools have been working with park staff to create an impressive floral display celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Mr Wheatley told them: “Just to be a finalist is a huge achievement and on behalf of the RHS. I wish you all the best of luck, but please don’t take our visit too seriously, we are here to help and to enjoy the time we spend with you.”

Coun Blackburn said: “What makes these awards so special is the fact that any national or regional recognition that we receive, will be the result of a team work and partnership approach at a time when we are all facing economic challenges on the resources available.

“The judges from Northumbria in Bloom have been visiting gardens across the city, and can’t fail to be impressed by the dedication and talent of all those responsible for some fabulous displays.

“Whatever the outcome of the judging, can I congratulate everyone who has even been considered for a prize in these annual awards which recognise those achieving the very highest standards.”

After looking at some of the city’s best gardens the judges were given a tour of the area, which included stopping off at Sunderland Minster.