Wearside had double cause for celebration in the national Britain in Bloom awards.
Durham scooped Gold in the Large Town category at the ceremony last night, while Washington was ranked Silver-Gilt in the Village section.
More than 1,000 Bloom groups from across Britain were vying for the coveted awards, of which just 70 finalists were chosen to represent their region/nation in the UK Finals.
Coun Brian Stephens, Durham council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “It has been a pleasure and privilege to once again take part in the prestigious Britain in Bloom competition, and we are delighted to have been awarded Gold.
“Bloom means a great deal to the people of Durham – not only has the competition helped towards many long-term environmental improvements in the city, but it has also brought the whole community together in doing so.”
Awards host Host James Alexander-Sinclair said: “Britain in Bloom is one of those great national institutions which never ceases to astound me.
“It not only brings together communities, improves our environment and fosters civic pride, but also helps to inspire creativity, spreads joy and laughter and invigorates friendships.
“Washington is a wonderful example of all that’s best about Britain in Bloom and the amazing people who roll up their sleeves to make change happen.”
The judging panel met with representatives of each finalist throughout the summer to assess each of the 70 Bloom campaigns against three key criteria: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.
Chairman Roger Burnett said: “This has been a vintage year for Britain in Bloom, with communities across the country coming together to create wonderful floral displays that benefit not just the individuals involved, but their communities and the wider environment.
“The standard of entries this year has been incredibly high.
“It is an honour to recognise and celebrate the work these amazing people do to build stronger, healthier and happier communities through gardening.”