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Stonehouse in Bloom

Britain in Bloom Finalists 2024

Our small town has once again been selected by Heart of England in Bloom to represent the region in the Britain in Bloom competition, in the Best Small Town Category. Stonehouse in Bloom were awarded a Silver Gilt in 2022’s BiB finals and are hoping to put Stonehouse on the UK ‘in bloom’ map once again.

Judges from the RHS will be joining us in July/August – date TBC.

If you, your organisation or business are not yet involved in our 2024 campaign, but would like to be, please get in touch.

Awarded a GOLD and Winner of Best Small Town Category in the RHS Heart of England in Bloom 2023 Awards.

RHS Judge Mark Wiltshire visited Stonehouse on a rainy July 4 and toured the town during the morning to see SIB projects and meet community groups and volunteers.

“This year, we featured the wonderful work of Cotswold Canals Connected and our judge was very interested to hear all about the canal project from the Vice Chair of the Cotswold Canals Trust, John Newton,” said Pam.

“We were also keen to share our own new projects for 2023: our new Community Garden at Stonehouse Station and the garden we have created on the bank at the entrance to the station from Queens Road.”

Stonehouse in Bloom is a volunteer-led group, supported by Stonehouse Town Council and numerous community organisations and town businesses, which have contributed financially and in kind. This year, employees from Sartorius, spent a day working on the new dry bed and community garden and will be spending another day planting bulbs in the coming weeks. Stonehouse in Bloom has also worked closely with Stonehouse Court Hotel, who have funded and planted up a new dry garden outside the Premier convenience store in the High Street, which will be cared for by SIB volunteers. The drought-resistant and drought-tolerant plants have been specifically chosen to demonstrate how gardening is evolving in response to climate change.

The strength of community spirit has been central to Stonehouse’s success in ‘In Bloom’.

RHS Judge Mark Wiltshire stated in his marking feedback: “Throughout the tour, it was evident that a great amount of time and care had gone into planning the spotlessly clean route. The visit to the canal to meet the members of The Cotswold Canal trust was a particular delight, who alone boast one thousand volunteers!! Somehow more volunteers have joined the team and an increase in working partnerships is very impressive, to complement the existing ones. Stonehouse Station stands out, in particular, beautiful floral containers adorn the railings and station platform, the Station Master’s Garden is still growing strong and now there is a Community Garden in progress alongside the northbound platform, surely a first. Great emphasis has gone into spreading the word on social media, which is reaping benefits. A very well-deserved gold.”

The journey so far…

Back in 2015, a group of volunteers set out to match earlier achievements in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Heart of England in Bloom competition.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is the UK’s leading gardening charity. They aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place – they are committed to inspiring everyone to grow.

With the support of the Town Council, the team set about filling the town with flowers. Generous financial support from town centre businesses meant that colourful hanging baskets and lamppost planters could be seen along much of the main street. Other floral displays were planted at the railway station, in The Old Chapel Garden (formerly The Rest Garden), around the War Memorial and on the Town Greens.

That year, Stonehouse in Bloom won a Silver Award. Since then, they have won a Silver Gilt Award, 5 Gold medals, Best Small Town in 2018, 2019 and 2022. In 2019 The landscaping of The Old Chapel Garden won ‘Outstanding’ in the separate ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ competition. Stonehouse in Bloom were also Finalists in the National Britain in Bloom Awards for 2020, which was delayed until 2022 due to Covid, where they were awarded a Silver Gilt.

In 2019 SIB also officially ‘Adopted’ Stonehouse Train Station. Stonehouse in Bloom have been working in partnership with Great Western Railway to put summer planting displays at Stonehouse Station since the year they started in 2015.

What is it? Station adopting brings people together to make a positive difference to their community, creating pride in their station and community. These groups of volunteers play a critical role in making their stations welcoming, pleasant and attractive places. Often their work extends beyond basic upkeep, incorporating community gardening and food growing, local arts projects, and workshops and visits with children and young people. Volunteering is evidenced to benefit both individuals taking part and wider communities.

In 2023 Stonehouse in Bloom were a Stroud News & Journal Community Awards Finalist – Environmental or Project of the Year Category and were nominated for a Stonehouse Town Council Civic Award.

The aims of Stonehouse in Bloom are to encourage the local community to improve and care for their local environment using the themes of Horticulture, Environment & Community.

Stonehouse is very lucky to have a dedicated band of volunteers who work very hard to keep the town looking clean, tidy and full of colour all year round. They weed and plant and water the floral displays around Stonehouse and in particular make the town look magnificent during the summer months. They are funded mainly by donations, their own fundraising and various grants. Organisations that have either previously financially supported Stonehouse in Bloom, and or continue to do so, are Great Western Railways, Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership, Barnwood Trust, Gloucestershire County Council and Stonehouse Town Council. Local businesses, residents and community groups also support the group either financially or by giving up their time or resources.

Future Plans

SIB continue to enjoy strong support from GWR, Network Rail and Stonehouse Town Council and have high hopes that their new Community Garden will enable them to develop their links with the community. They’ve already had success with our ‘Plant a Sunflower’ Project and had discussions with two organisations working with vulnerable families in Stonehouse, with a view to setting up regular gardening/art/craft sessions later in the year. They also strongly support Cotswold Canals Connected and the proposed Wild Space in Stagholt.

Stonehouse in Bloom will continue to keep the community informed of activities, wider developments and local events of benefit to the town. You can catch-up with everything they are doing in the town via their Facebook page here.

How to get involved

Stonehouse in Bloom welcomes new members. So, if you want to get involved to improve your town, get active, meet people or you just enjoy gardening, then please contact Deborah Curtis at deborah.curtis647580@gmail.com.

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