Tatton Park - Riot of colour opens RHS bedding contest

Keeping alive the "colourful tradition" of bedding displays was one of the primary aims for the RHS this year as it celebrated the 10th anniversary of its national flower bed competition at Tatton Park.

With entries ranging from a helicopter, tank and yellow submarine, to displays featuring a stag, cyclists and Robert Burns, the 19 local authorities, colleges and communities taking part revelled in a riot of colour and design.

The award for best exhibit in the RHS/Ball Colegrave National Flower Bed Competition went to Conwy County Borough Council for its display of butterflies.

Assistant parks and green spaces manager Peter Barton-Price said that the team was delighted with the win.

He added that bedding continued to be as popular as ever. "People like to see the colour, and this year we have already opened up more areas for bedding plants in Conwy," he explained.

Gold-winning Preston City Council nursery head foreman Alan Rampling agreed: "People want to see the traditional English garden."

According to RHS head of shows development Bob Sweet, local authorities should not be afraid of continuing to produce bedding displays. He said the organisation was promoting the skill this year after launching a new competition, called Britain's Best Flower Bed, which is open for entries until 31 August.

"Many local authorities are starting to think flower beds are too costly or unsustainable, but it is something many young gardeners have been brought up with and we feel it still has a place in British horticulture," Sweet added.

"We want to make sure that our colourful tradition is kept going."

Conwy's entry included French and African marigolds, as well as a range of carpet bedding plants for the butterflies.

Sweet said: "There is a combination of excellent-quality plants, good choice of plants and huge skill involved in planting them to sheer perfection.

"That type of skill is more delicate than the slightly louder displays," he added.

- To find out about entering Britain's Best Flower Bed competition visit www.rhs.org.uk/britainin bloom/britainsflowerbed.html

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