Night to remember for 'stunning' Islington in Bloom award winners
PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 September 2018
Monday night saw Islington's most creative gardeners celebrated at a glitzy town hall ceremony.
The annual Islington in Bloom awards honoured the best gardening feats in the borough, with people from all walks of life earning gongs for green-fingered brilliance.
Across 18 categories, entries ranged from beautiful tree pits filled with flowers, to decorated lamp posts and incredible wildflower meadows.
The high standard even inspired judges to offer extra “special discretionary” awards. One of these went to children Yasmin and Seth Campbell, right, who used their pocket money to buy plants for a tree pit they adopted in Fairbridge Road.
The other special award was given to Frances Whitehouse, who adds to the Best Growing Area award bagged for their Pollard Close allotment in 2017.
The Gazette sponsored Retail Street award was won by the Highbury Barn Traders.
Islington’s envrionment chief Cllr Claudia Webbe, said she was humbled by the huge response to this year’s Islington in Bloom. She said: “From children carefully tending a tree pit near their home, to groups of residents coming together to transform community spaces bursting with flowers, there were thoughtful, imaginative and stunning displays across our borough.”
After congratulating the winners and runners-up, Cllr Webbe added: “A massive thanks to everyone who took part, and for the volunteer time and hard work that went into this year’s entries.
“Your passion and dedication makes our community a richer place, and makes such a difference to our borough.”
Other winners this year included Munever Ibraham’s Image Tailors in Holloway for best business – pipping pubs the WB Yeats and the Shakespeare’s Head – and residents of Hopping Lane in Canonbury, which was given the coveted best street gong.
Elsewhere volunteer gardeners from St Luke’s community centre won their second gold award in a row, while pupils from Hargrave Park Primary School won the award for best children’s planting.
Intriguingly, Myka Baum won the best forgotten corner award for the St Mellitus Secret Garden.
Overall, Holloway was named the best ward in the borough.
The competition was once again organised and judged by Islington Council and Islington Gardeners.
We spoke to some of the winners:
Best Community Garden and Pattenden award – Culpeper Community Garden
The Culpeper Community Garden has gone one better than last year and scooped gold in the Best Community Garden category.
The team of volunteers also scooped the Pattenden award, meaning it is the greenest of all the 800 plus nominees.
Culpeper, a registered charity, was set up in 1982 by neighbours living in Islington, and is believed to be one of the oldest community-run spaces in the UK. Down the years it has won plenty of Islington in Bloom awards.
A spokersperson told the Gazette: “It was fantastic, and very well deserved. We worked really, really hard to make it beautiful not just for ourselves but anyone who walks in the gate, which is open 365 days a year.
“We didn’t think we would win, not at all.
“It’s quite competitive and there’s a lot of really, really good gardening going on in Islington. The Pattenden award was an extra bonus too.”
So what have the team done differently this year to seal the victory?
“Well despite the drought we did a lot of extra work. We just worked harder and put more love into it!”
Best Residential Communal Garden and Best Entry from a Housing Property Resident – Bevin Court
Bevin Court Community Garden is so good it won twice, though it’s fair to say it was fully deserved.
Julia Barclay said: “We’ve been entering since 2010. There’s 20 or so of us and half-a-dozen or so that are core supporters. We have a regular gardening event on the last Sunday of every month.
“The estate used to be very boring and the grass was in really poor condition. But we worked with the council to redesign the layout and did lots of new planting. It was a huge, huge project and took a lot of blood, sweat and tears.”
About 20,000 plants and more than 100,000 bulbs later, the team have got their hands on the gold prize.
Bevin Court won Best Residential Communal Garden and Best Entry from a Housing Property Resident.
“It was amazing,” Julia said. “I know people locally who have changed the way they walk to the Tube station so they can see the garden. We were hopeful of winning.”
Best Blooming Pub or Business – Munever Ibraham - Image Tailors
Munever Ibraham has run Image Tailors in the famous Fonthill Road shopping street for more than two decades. And in recent years she’s come close to winning gold at Islington in Bloom.
This year she, admittedly, went “flower crazy”.
“There’s hardly room for my car to into the space,” she told the Gazette after winning the top prize.
“But it really does look lovely and I’ve had so many compliments and so many people coming in to comment.
“It really warms my heart to be doing something that puts a smile on people’s faces.
“It was amazing to win, I was there last year and I think I was robbed, so literally every day I have been doing something out there and I’ve worked really hard.
“This summer was really hot and some days I had to water the plants twice.”
Asked whether she would carry on raising the bar to retain her title next year, Munever said: “Oh god yes!”
Special Discretionary - Yasmin and Seth Campbell
A special award went to Yasmin and Seth Campbell, who use their pocket money to buy plants for a tree pit they had adopted in Fairbridge Road.
Their mother Moerida told the Gazette: “They wanted to have a tree to look after so we went to a garden centre and chose some wildflower seeds. They went to the reduced section and got some plants on their last legs with their pocket money. They have been watering it every day and admiring all the plants that come through.”
Neighbours now regularly congratulate the youngsters on their fantastic work, and the family have even had people knocking on their door.
The council even let them enter the competition after the deadline. After picking up the special discretionary award, Moerida added: “They were absolutely thrilled. They weren’t expecting vouchers, they just thought they would get a certificate. I’m really proud of them. Everyone on the streets stops to congratulate them too, neighbours we’ve never even met before.
They are going to keep on looking after it and plant some bulbs.