This has led to councils that are planting less bedding having more success, say parks managers — but bedding suppliers are worried about the move. London Borough of Croydon won the Large City category. Principal contract manager coordinator Alan Brett, who works with Continental Landscapes on parks maintenance, said: "We have permanent planting on a few of our beds. Over the past two or three years we've changed 25 per cent of the bedding for permanent planting.
"I'm a bit traditional and I like bedding in parks so we're not changing everything. But cost is a consideration. Bedding is more expensive than drought-resistant planting. But we're not going down the route of getting rid of flowerbeds, because people love a splash of colour."
Croydon showed judges a community housing site at Borough Grange that had vegetable planting in the beds and parks at Haling Grove, Chaldon Gardens and Coombe Wood.
The awards looked at three core pillars: horticulture; environmental; and sustainability and community.
Bedding seed supplier Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen said: "It is concerning that bedding will have less weight in the judging. Bedding is about bringing colour into the community."
Syngenta representative Ian Riggs also expressed concern that bedding had been downgraded in importance. But an RHS representative said: "Councils can ask: what is appropriate to winning? That may not be lots of hanging baskets. Permanent plants and wildlife areas and verges may be more suitable. "
Britain in Bloom chairman Roger Burnett said: "It is refreshing to see many bedding schemes including an element of permanent planting because it has always had a bit of a bad image."
BRITAIN IN BLOOM WINNERS
- Falkland (Scotland): Champion of Champions
- London Borough of Croydon (London): Large City
- Stockton-on-Tees (Northumbria): City
- Harrogate (Yorkshire): Large Town/Small City (population: 35,000-100,000)
- Wisbech (Anglia): Large Town/Small City (12,000-35,000)
- Pitlochry (Scotland): Small Town
- Thornbury (South West): Town
- Broughshane (Ulster): Large Village
- Chipping (North West): Village
- Tarrington Village (Heart of England): Small Village
- Birmingham City Centre (Heart of England): Urban Community
- St Brelade (Jersey): Coastal (12,000 and below)
- Cleethorpes (East Midlands): Coastal (12,000 and above)