Chair of the Britain in Bloom judging panel, Darren Share said: “Twenty years ago I was seeing swathes of geraniums but now many groups are swapping traditional formal bedding and floral hanging baskets for a mix of flowers and edibles in all sorts of unusual places. I’ve seen restaurants growing hanging baskets filled with herbs and tumbling tomatoes, allotments on roofs and potatoes being grown in containers made from tyres.”
While taste is not a category for the judges to decide on, they do look forward to nibbling on the home-grown delights of the public town gardens.
Mr Share added: : “Plants often look as good as they taste, from colourful Swiss chard to purple-flowered chives and blossom on apple trees, and growing them with ornamental flowers has other benefits. Not only does it attract pollinators, vital for fertilising many types of crop, but it can help ward off certain pests, under-planting tomatoes with French marigolds for example to prevent aphid attacks.
“In the case of Britain in Bloom judging the proof of the pudding isn’t in the tasting – it’s all about the skill and dedication to the task – but we’re often lucky enough to sample some of the communities’ home-grown delights.”
BBC Two’s Britain in Bloom returns for a second series in the spring with Chris Bavin visiting communities as they prepare for judging. This year’s groups include three national finalists – Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire, and Llandudno and Prestatyn, both in Wales.
Tackling global warming has become a trend in the competition over recent years, with the Cornish town of Truro winning last year after planting heatwave-resistant cacti and succulents.