Islington in Bloom 2017 winners announced as mayor beams: ‘People are taking so much pride in where they live’
PUBLISHED: 17:35 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:15 22 September 2017
Mayor of Islington Cllr Una O’Halloran can vouch for how important the annual Islington in Bloom ceremony is.
Cllr O’Halloran, born and bred in the borough, recalls a time where Islington didn’t have so many thriving parks and community spaces.
It’s why she enjoyed presenting the Islington in Bloom gongs so much at the Assembly Hall on Thursday.
“I thought the night was lovely,” she told the Gazette afterwards, “because it was a celebration of people giving up their own time to make Islington look wonderful. I’m so pleased these awards are put on – it’s a great opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to those people.
“I think back to when I was growing up, and lots of Islington’s green spaces were neglected. Now you see people all over the borough taking ownership, and taking pride in where they live.”
There were 200 entries for 19 categories, from best blooming pub or business to best front garden.
Islington has been chosen to represent London in next month’s Britain in Bloom, and Caledonian ward Cllr O’Halloran continued: “I’ll be honest: I’m quite shocked at the sheer number of nice gardens and community spaces you see. I’m really nosy, and I walk round the estate where I live and think: ‘You could all win Islington in Bloom.’
“I loved the container garden nominees, and Coltash [winner of the Gazette-sponsored “best estate”] is amazing. I’ve been there a few times and it’s like a secret garden.
“The more sponsors we can get in future years, the more we can do to encourage others to get involved. The council is suffering awful government cuts, and it does its best to look after our parks, but I think the community also has to help.”
Freightliners City Farm, in Sheringham Road, Holloway, was the proud recipient of best community garden.
Volunteer Louise Matlock said: “We love the idea of producing things to eat, and a garden that’s great to look at. We’re so pleased with the recognition as we’ve always been big supporters of Islington in Bloom.”
Meanwhile, Highbury East won the new “best ward” category – in the same week as the Save Highbury Fields protest group launched legal action against the council over its policy allowing barbecues in the popular green space.
Best estate: Coltash Court
After winning the “best estate” award for the second year in a row, Coltash Court volunteer Sandra Heaney shuddered at what might have been a decade ago.
The estate is in Whitecross Street, home of the famous market, and there were plans to put public toilets at the back of the block.
But tenants kicked up stink and managed to get a garden, instead.
It’s taken a while, but is now thriving thanks to the hard work of Sandra, Linda Stokes and David Hall.
“We have got everything in there now,” she said after picking up the first prize – which was sponsored by the Gazette.
“It looks amazing. We have an olive tree, we grow grapes – it’s a beautiful garden.
“I think it’s important to give people a bit of greenery. It’s just big buildings around this area.
"I think back to when I was growing up, and lots of Islington’s green spaces were neglected. Now you see people all over the borough taking ownership, and taking pride in where they live"
“To have somewhere like this makes a difference. We have balconies, but having a garden to enjoy is much better.”
Best container garden: Darren Kirwin and Ramsay Ritchie
Darren Kirwin and Ramsay Ritchie had been trying to win the “best container garden” award for three years – and their hard work finally paid off on Thursday.
They have packed the tiny space in front of their house in Annette Road, Holloway, with plants and even a bee house.
“It’s wonderful after three years of hard work,” Darren said. “Especially as we achieved it in the face of adversity – a couple of months ago, some vandals pulled up the plants and threw them out.”
Darren dedicated the gold prize to his late mum: “I’m a bit of a novice gardener, but my mum was really green fingered. Her gardens were beautiful.
“I’m a creative person as an art and design teacher, and this is another way of channelling that. My mum’s not here now, but she would be chuffed I got this.
“Every time I’m doing some gardening I think of her, and I’m sure she would be looking down on me saying: ‘Good on you, son.’”
Full list of winners:
1st – Dee Candlin
2nd – Hayley Robinson – Crayford Road Gardeners
3rd – Rachel Thomas & Boyd Crawford
Best Community Park
1st – Caledonian Park Friends Group
2nd – Penn Road Gardens
3rd – Barnard Park
Best Food Growing Area
1st – Frances Whitehouse – Pollard Close Allotment
2nd – Jos Boys – Highbury Quadrant
3rd – Arvon Road Community Garden – Arvon and Ronalds Road
Best Community Garden
1st – Freightliners City Farm
2nd – Culpeper Community Garden
3rd – King Henry’s Walk Garden
Best Forgotten Corner
1st – Luciana O’Flaherty
2nd – Cullinan Studio
3rd – Cynthia Locke
Best Blooming Pub or Business
1st – Stephen Mullin – The Shakespeare’s Head
2nd – Image tailors
3rd – Rebecca Eatough – Rotunda Bar and Restaurant
Best Tree Pits
1st – Cosima Davies
2nd – Catriona Oliphant
3rd – Pamela Berham
Best Community Centre Garden
1st – Heather Stabler – St Luke’s Community Centre
2nd – Jennifer Potter (Revd) – Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission
3rd – Carol Louvet – Holloway Neighbourhood Group Stress Project
Best Container Garden
1st – Ramsay Ritchie and Darren Kirwin
2nd – Eileen Carnell
3rd – Les Swan
1st – Coltash Court
2nd – 28/30 Elia Street
3rd – Quaker Estate TMO
Best Front Garden
1st – Michael Gorman
2nd – Abigail Hercules
3rd – Martin Leman
Best Residential Communal Garden
1st – Richard, Ilidio, Sarah and Dave – Forrest Court Estate
2nd – Bevin Court
3rd – Wedmore Estate
Best Children’s Planting
1st – Hargrave Park Primary School
2nd – Copenhagen Primary School
3rd – St Mark’s CE Primary School
Best entry in any category from a housing service resident
1st – Michael Gorman
2nd – Dee Candlin
3rd – Sandra Heaney
Best entry in any category from a Partners property resident
1st – Pamela Berham
2nd – Frances Fay Davies
3rd – Francis Carroll
Children’s Poster Competition
Under 5s – Zara Asraf, Highbury Quadrant Primary School
5 to 10 – Daniella Del Valle Silva, Highbury Quadrant Primary School
Over 10s – Shahida Kadir, Mount Carmel College
Overall winner – Daniella Del Valle Silva
Champion of Champions
Caledonian Park Friends Garden
King Henry’s Walk