The new virtual competition was introduced this year when the charity’s annual RHS Britain in Bloom UK Finals had to be postponed.
The new Awards saw 117 entries from 55 community gardening groups representing all regions across the UK, submit a digital portfolio of their work over the summer with a panel of judges identifying outstanding projects across five categories:
- Nourishing Your Community - Growing, sharing or enjoying food with others
- Nature-friendly Gardening - Creating habitats and using wildlife-friendly gardening practices
- Green Solutions – Tackling environmental challenges such as climate change, air pollution and flooding
- Cultivating Your Community – Bringing people together by involving a wide cross-section of the community
- Planting with Purpose - Addressing specific challenges such as transforming a neglected area or reducing antisocial behaviour.
The RHS Community Awards shine a light on ingenious schemes that have been engaging communities and transforming spaces throughout the UK.
In Amersham, gardeners have looked to create pollinator corridors to offset the impact of the nearby HS2 development. This was achieved by introducing no-mow areas, sowing roadside verges with wildflowers, planting street signs with pollinator plants and switching formal floral displays in memorial gardens with pollinator beds and borders.
A project in Jersey established a community smallholding, planting alleys of fruit and nut trees, with space between the trees forming grass and wildflower pollinator patches. The site gives residents an opportunity to connect with nature, with beds of vegetables and a sensory garden planned for the future.
Volunteers in County Antrim transformed a neglected area of open space with bee-friendly plants; engaging several generations of locals from elderly residents to schoolchildren to provide the community with a completely reinvigorated space.
The judging panel was impressed with the number of high-quality projects in every region of the UK, with a particularly large number of projects championing environmental issues such as promoting pollinators and wildlife.
RHS Community Development Manager Kay Clark said: “We were delighted to see so many projects put forward for the inaugural RHS Community Awards and the Outstanding Entries show community gardening as its very best. Considering the difficulties of the past 18 months, the level of engagement and achievement has been astonishing.
“Community gardening has moved way beyond traditional eye-catching floral displays. Groups are driven by social and environmental purposes, and set out to make a tangible difference in their communities. Whether it be supporting wildlife, regenerating neighbourhoods, helping communities access nutritious food, mitigating the impact of climate change, or simply bringing people together; community gardeners are having a significant impact on the liveability of their local area.”
The RHS Community Awards will return in 2022, and will be open to a wider range of community groups. The Britain in Bloom UK Finals will also return in 2022. Further information on both competitions will be announced by the RHS in due course.
For more information about the RHS Community Awards visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/community-gardening/news/articles/rhs-community-awards and for more information about community gardening, including how to get involved, visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/community-gardening.