This year’s Islington in Bloom awards, held at Islington Assembly Hall on 13 September, are an amazing testament to how green-fingered we have all become – and how much pride we are taking in our neighbourhoods.
Supported by Islington Gardeners and run by Islington Council, the annual event brings together people from all over the borough – schools, community groups, council estates, home-owners and businesses – in a celebration of efforts to make the borough greener and more beautiful.
That is particularly important because Islington has the least green space per person in London.
The competition, launched by Joe Swift, of BBC Gardeners’ World programme back in April, is open to everyone who likes gardening. You don’t have to be a professional gardener; you just need to love plants and enjoy wielding a trowel.
In 2017 there were 200 entries in 19 categories, from best tree pits to best community garden and from best forgotten corner to best blooming pub.
This year Islington Gardeners sponsored the Best Forgotten Corner award and the Pattenden Award. The former is given for the best cultivation of a neglected space in the borough, won by Hanover Primary School for their beautiful canalside garden. The latter is an award for the best wildlife garden, won this year by King Henry’s Walk garden and named after Nancy Pattenden, who was the moving spirit behind the creation of Islington Gardeners.
Every entrant receives a free bag of compost from Camden Garden Centre and winners receive a £100 voucher to spend there. Second and third prizes are vouchers of £75 and £50
This year, Islington Gardeners again sponsored the Borough to enter the London in Bloom competition, and for the third year running, they won a Gold medal for the City category (100,000 – 200,00 residents). As a result of this stunning success, Islington has been invited to participate in the Britain in Bloom competition– the results of which are to be announced at a ceremony in Llandudno on October 26th. Watch this space!
Reactions of the some of the winners to this year’s competition:
“It’s nice to be recognised because we try to grow a garden that everyone can enjoy” Luciana O’Flaherty (Vice chair of governors, Hanover School)
“Gardening in a public space is extraordinary challenging. We take on all comers – dogs, children & a lot of visitors. That’s what makes it so exciting” (Dianne Browning, chair of Friends of Barnard Park)
“It’s fantastic to win an award. We are very shocked. This is our first year in the competition and we have done well. It’s very encouraging and nice to know that people have appreciated our efforts” ( Linda Painter, treasurer of the TMO committee, Quaker Court.)
“It’s fabulous winning. It’s our second year of operating the Friends’ Group. The gardening was really hard work. Before we began it was all clay and rubble, now it’s beautiful” (Diane Armstrong and Sharon Barrett of the Caledonian Park Friends Group)
“I think the Pattenden award is really special. It was one of our aspirations to start monitoring the biodiversity of the garden. We had a survey done of the wildlife – the flying insects and the pond life. This is fantastic recognition of our work”. (Phil Wales – chair of King Henry’s Walk garden)
Click on the link below to see the latest photos and stories of the 2017 Islington in Bloom winners:
London in Bloom Awards
Happy Islington Goldwinners
If you would like to know more about the results of London in Bloom (in which Islington got Gold!) please follow these links:
Greenspace – In Bloom
1 Cottage Road
The Pattenden Wildlife Award
Nancy died on the 15th February 2011 just three weeks after her husband, Brian. Many new members and other people from across the borough may not be aware that it was Nancy who founded Islington Gardeners towards the end of the 1970s.
In the 1950s, Nancy and Brian, both young qualified architects found a house in Halton Road in preparation for their marriage in 1957. They joined the Islington Society, whose aims were to preserve Islington Borough’s many outstanding architectural gems. With great enthusiasm, Nancy embraced the role of encouraging its citizens to cultivate and above all enjoy their gardens.
Singlehandedly, she ran the first competitions: from the advertising, through judging to the presentation of certificates. All over the Borough her voice could be heard praising; advising and suggesting improvements to gardens, window boxes, forgotten areas, estates, communal homes. By the late 1970s membership of the Islington Society had grown to the point where the Society felt that in order to spread interest throughout the whole Borough, Islington Gardeners should form its own committee and thus become independent of Islington Society.
Before long, and with the help of visits to famous gardens, winter talks by experts and plant sales these gardeners were rolling off the Linnean double names of plants and were becoming experts in their own right.
They had recognised Nancy’s fairness in judging and responded to her warmth and generosity.
When the new committee took over, Nancy felt free to pursue her own passions, one of which was the creation of a scented garden for the blind. She and Pam Millward (chair of IG during the 1990s) had this garden constructed in the garden of an old peoples’ home off Seven Sisters Road. Other interests, such as community gardens and the Borough’s trees entailed forging links with Islington Council’s experts in the Parks and Gardens department. With her unaffected good humour and natural friendliness she found friends instead of officials with whom she could share advice.
Nancy had a wicked sense of humour, was a Morris Dancer and was a passionate advocate for the preservation of wildlife.
We decided to name the wildlife award that Islington Gardeners sponsors within Islington in Bloom after her to ensure that her legacy lives on.
Islington Gardeners became involved with Islington in Bloom at the beginning of their involvement with the In Bloom Competitions at the beginning of this century. It has been an absolute pleasure and a very rewarding experience to be involved with something that makes Islington a brighter and better Borough for everyone that lives here.
Islington in Bloom 2016
Last year’s winners in the best estate category, sponsored by Islington Gardeners, were:
Coltash Court; Bevin Court and Sanders Way. The picture of Coltash Court is missing, but is on the website 20161026inbloomawardswinners2016