Budleigh Salterton yet again proudly displays its Britain in Bloom Gold Award for 2010.
This was the second year running that the town's group of volunteers who make up Budleigh in Bloom had claimed the honour. Chairman Pat Prew collected the award at the South West in Bloom presentation in Bath last month.
Much hard work goes into the floral displays on which the judges' decision is based and the judging itself was a thorough affair involving a tour of the town, following a special plea from Mrs Prew to residents and shopkeepers asking that the front of their properties be kept neat and tidy and free of weeds.
Having read on the Budleigh in Bloom website http://www.budleighinbloom.co.uk/ about the route that the judges took I feel a bit bad now that I didn't do more to tidy up my own front garden which they would have passed. Ah well, next year it'll be better.
East Budleigh also gained a Gold Award in the Britain in Bloom competition. The village is so proud of its floral displays and immaculately tended gardens that its East Budleigh in Bloom website at http://www.eastbudleighinbloom.org.uk/ is given as much importance as the village site itself at http://home.btconnect.com/eastbudleighvillage.org.uk/ the two being run as sister ventures.
A dissenter's plea for a bit of disorder: an Open Letter from an East Budleigh resident to the judges of Britain in Bloom
Not everyone is 100% committed to the idea of an immaculately tended, full-bloomed pest-free paradise in the search for Britain in Bloom's iconic status however. Next to The Old Bakery on East Budleigh's main street I spotted a defiantly Open Letter addressed to the Britain in Bloom judges from 'An East Budleigh garden-wildlife lover.'
"Please allow us a certain degree of disorder," it requested. "Weeds to seed, dead leaves to stay where they fall, heaps of branches left to decay, nettles behind the shed..."
"A garden should be far more than its appearance," the letter went on. "In particular it should be a habitat for a wide range of creatures like ground beetles, garden ants, butterflies (Vanessa Atlanta, Inchis io, Aglais urticae - and why not Pieris rapae and napi and their caterpillars). And there should be swarms of garden birds. But House sparrows for instance are in serious decline. And we haven't seen a toad or a frog in years. The hedgehogs are gone with the wind. Only the wind comes and goes. Why?
"Our beautiful gardens alarmingly become theatres without actors, concert halls without musicians! Is this really what we want? Is this really what you want?"
Well, after that little outburst I felt I could perhaps allow the odd caterpillar a nibble of my nasturtiums. And I even had second thoughts about the slug pellets. For as that great English essayist and garden-lover Francis Bacon wrote: "Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished."