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While preparations heat up for Britain in Bloom's judging next month, A group of MiB volunteers gathered on June 3rd and got planting.  As in previous years, plants were supplied by Superior Plants of Market Lavington.  The recent wet weather may be unpleasant for some but ducks and the new plants will appreciate it!planterIMG 0956 web

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When Marlborough in Bloom is judged in July, now in the Champion of Champion’s category, the floral displays and the community projects called ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ (IYN) are awarded points. The IYN’s are somethinganyone in the community can do and comprise 40% of the final award. Judges are delighted to assess and encourage the volunteers and community groups' work. This year there are nine entered in the IYN section, which is not competitive, but will get a rating and a certificate.

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However, points will be deducted if street furniture and planters are not well maintained.

They will also observe how clean the pavements are as they walk the designated two-hour route around the town, which is meticulously timed at each stopping point. Rubbish such as discarded cigarette ends and litter will not help us gain the prestigious award.

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On Friday and Saturday last a team of six volunteers wielded brushes and set about refurbishing, with decking stain, the large black planters in the Parade, High Walls and elsewhere.

Painting of the wooden planters had to be completed before the spring bedding is replaced by summer bedding that will be planted on 3rd June, to ensure the town is colourful throughout the summer.

We thank those who gave up their time to help last weekend and appreciate any help that the good people of Marlborough can give between now and judging day.

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Marlborough in Bloom needs volunteers for cleaning and painting the planters in the town as the timber has weathered and needs refreshing. Brushes, decking stain and protective gloves will be provided. Please meet in The Parade, opposite Dible and Roy, at 10 am. The dates are: May 3rd and 4th and the following week on the 10th and 11th.

Please telephone Ann Lovett on 01672 513022 if you can help?

We look forward to many volunteers helping us to win Gold again for the third year running.

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During 2018 a film unit commissioned by the BBC for their Britain in Bloom programme made several visits to Marlborough to record our town's  efforts.  Watch the fim they made by tuning in  to BBC2 at 5 pm on Saturday 13th 2019.  (This assumes the BBC schedule doesn't change again, which is always possible with current affairs!)  bbcfilmingIMG 4585

Chris Bavin preparing to film Action for the River Kennet (ARK) volunteers at Stonebridge in May 2108

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Our first litter pick on Friday 22nd March, organised by Marlborough Town Council, as part of the Great British Spring Clean initiative, was hugely successful.  Local residents, representatives from Rick Stein, the newly formed Youth Council, the local Police, Marlborough in Bloom and the Town Council all turned up.  Sporting hi-vis jackets and with litter pickers at the ready the willing volunteers tackled the High Street, Priory Gardens, Cooper’s Meadow, George Lane Car Park and other problem areas, meeting up with volunteers from Action For the River Kennet (ARK) who were doing a river clean up too.  A cup of tea and slice of cake back at the Town Hall rounded off a very enjoyable and satisfying evening.  Thank you to everyone for taking part.
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The second litter pick took place on 27th March.  Please have a look on the Marlborough Town Council website, Facebook or Twitter pages for details of the next litter picking events on 30th March and 7th April.
There will be more Marlborough in Bloom volunteer events soon, so dust off your gardening gloves and get ready to join in to make Marlborough the best it can be.

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This year's Marlborough in Bloom theme is ladybirds.
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Not only are ladybirds popular with the public because of their bold colours but many of the species are predators helping gardeners and farmers with pest control.  The seven-spot ladybird can eat about 5,000 aphids during their year-long life span.
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Here some more interesting facts about ladybirds:
- Ladybirds are insects - they have six legs.  They are beetles and belong to the family Coccinellidae.
- There are 46 species of ladybird in Britain, 26 of which are brightly coloured and spotty.
- The bright colours of a ladybird warn potential enemies that they taste horrible.
- The harlequin ladybird has been called the most invasive ladybird on Earth!  It is large and hungry and will eat ladybird eggs and immature ladybirds when aphids are in short supply.
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We entered the South West in Bloom competition in 2015 and 2016 being warded Silver Gilt, then in 2017 and 2018 won the Gold Cup in both years. This year we have been entered into the Champion of Champions level and are aiming for – yes you have guessed it – the Gold Cup again!

We have lots to do between now and the judging days which are between 3 and 17 of July - plants to buy, planters to prepare and, most importantly, raise money in the first place to buy the plants and paint for the planters.

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We are, therefore, looking for volunteers, supporters and sponsors to help in one way or another. The planters need to be painted with decking paint.  They will then need to be prepared for all the plants that will be delivered later in the year – weeding, adding more soil and then preparing for the new plants.

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If you could support us in any way we would be delighted. Please do telephone one of the following telephone numbers if you could help and if you have any questions.

Ann               01672 513022

Diana            07798 845476

We look forward to hearing from you.

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The results are in for the 2018 RHS South West in Bloom competition and once again the imagination and hard work of Marlborough in Bloom participants has been well rewarded.


Marlborough has been awarded Gold for the second year running in the main competition as well as the Sponsor’s Cup for the most meritorious entry.


In the “It’s Your Neighbourhood” section, several entries were designated outstanding and the Sutton Seeds Cup for an "Outstanding Area of Nature Conservation" was awarded to the Stonebridge Wild River Reserve which is jointly owned and managed by Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and Marlborough Town Council.   


A full list of awards is shown below and there will be a presentation ceremony at the Marlborough in Bloom Annual General Meeting at 7 pm on Thursday November 8th in the Town Hall.

Town Awards:-

Gold and South West Travel Association Trophy

Sponsors Cup for the most meritorious entry


Sutton Seeds Cup:-

Stonebridge Wild River Reserve for “An Outstanding Area of Nature Conservation”

It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards:-

Alma Place                                           Outstanding

The Merchant’s House                         Outstanding

Old Victorian Cemetery                       Outstanding

Water Front Garden                              Outstanding

Community Orchard                             Outstanding

Stonebridge Wild River Reserve          Outstanding

Cooper’s Meadow                                 Outstanding

Marlborough College                            Outstanding

Preshute School                                    Thriving

St Peter’s Churchyard                           Thriving

Plume of Feathers Garden                     Improving

The Mead                                              Improving

Congratulations to all, but no resting on laurels please - 2019 awaits!

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July 10th was a blooming big day for Marlborough in Bloom and its organisers.  With Marlborough looking blooming great, a blazing hot day set the scene for the visit by the SW Britain in Bloom judges who were guided around various parts of the town all day, often accompanied by the film crew filming for the BBC programme Britain in Bloom , to be shown next April. The round of judjing ended with an event in the the Town Hall at which the results of the local Garden Competition were also announced.

We have to wait patiently until October for the Town's result but the report and results of the local Garden Competiion are below:

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Anne Crawley writes: Marlborough has been chosen as one of the towns to be featured on next year's television series Britain in Bloom. You may have seen the television crews around town filming selected sites. They will visit three or four times over the next six weeks, leading up to Judging Day on Tuesday 10 July when the town will, we hope, be looking its blooming best.

One of our worst problems is litter and as former Chairman I am appealing to everyone to pick up three bits of litter on your way to the shops. This would make an enormous difference to the look of the town.

Plastic sweet wrappers and coffee cups that can end up in the Kennet are particularly worrying. And please don't use our flower displays as rubbish bins or cigarette ashtrays!

You will notice another great improvement in the floral displays in the Marlborough in Bloom planters this year. Thanks to a generous donation of £2000 from Tesco, we are able to have Tony Archer of Superior Plants, plant up, water and feed the troughs so that our volunteers can concentrate on weeding and dead-heading. Wiltshire Council have promised more help with keeping the town swept regularly

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A report by Mrs Margaret Rose for Tower and Town Magazine: 

The old Victorian Cemetery, which goes back to 1853, is on land donated by the Marquess of Ailesbury. It is widely considered to be an important and beautiful historical part of Marlborough Town and is referred to as a good example of a "garden cemetery" popular in the mid-19th C. The growth of cemetery friend groups all over the country is a sign that the public is keen to preserve and support conservation and environmental projects based in cemeteries and churchyards; after all they were originally designed as attractive places to visit.

2013       What first drew me to the Victorian Cemetery?  I think it has to be the magnificent Cedar of Lebanon which helps to give an air of grandeur, also the 581 gravestones with many local family and business names; some are grand monuments and headstones with iron railings, pronouncing how you were perceived in life and your status in death, many being past Mayors of Marlborough. The fact that a large part of the cemetery has been allowed to revert back to nature adds to its charm, with a profusion of snowdrops and daffodils in the spring. The exception is the Paupers Grave where a lone Sarcen Stone denotes the resting place of over 800 persons. For these poor souls, mainly from St. Luke's Workhouse, this was their common grave. The area now is just a large stretch of grass mowed regularly by the Marlborough Town Council (MTC).


The Friends of the Victorian Cemetery group started in 2014 with volunteers made up of Town Councillors and locals meeting then once a month on a Sunday morning helping to clear around graves. They tackled nettles, overgrown briars, and overgrown ivy, which were becoming top heavy and endangering stones, also painting the wrought iron gates and strimming . We were lucky enough to have the archaeologist Kim Wakeham come and talk to us about the history of the cemetery and it is always gives pleasure to discover familiar names or envisage past lives.   In 2014 we had a fallen old tree, and with MTC 's mechanical digger we used sculptured pieces to make a foxglove dell around the Paupers Grave which gives a living warmth and enhances that rather stark area.

2014   MTC invited ICCM (Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management) to give advice on the safety and wellbeing of the cemetery which will in the future need funding of over £50 000 to preserve some of the vulnerable stones. We are also grateful to the council for undertaking and paying for the cutting of a very overgrown yew hedge which now lets in the sunshine and opens up that side of the cemetery for wildlife to spread.

We support The Wiltshire Living Churchyard and attend their yearly seminars to meet like-minded groups and learn about different types of bees, wild flowers and lichens and also received the Bishop’s Award for Good Management for Wild Life.

2016  Two years ago we started tackling the area where Non-Conformists are buried. This was badly overgrown and we discovered some very stately graves and well-known names, including Mayor May who also owned the Tannery and lived on the Green. In May 2017 Merlin Court very kindly allowed us to have a fund-raising Tea Party to be able to buy some wild flowers and it has always been my ambition to introduce bee orchids which I have seen in other church yards. Over the years we have planted bluebells, fritillaries, daffodils, violets, cowslips and many others.

So where does this Heritage leave us? What is the aim of this small voluntary group The Friends of the Victorian cemetery who now meet on certain Mondays (the second Monday of every month 10-12am) or just pop in when the mood takes them?  With expert help we are hoping to create our own web site, and with Kim Wakeham’s help be able to make the cemetery's history more accessible to everyone.  

We can never turn the clock back to its former glory, but we can ensure that this beautiful Victorian Cemetery is a living space for wildlife and a peaceful environment for all to sit and think, not just about the living, but pay homage to the dead .


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Having won Gold last year, with the return of something like Spring weather the Marlborough Bloomers are gearing up for another successful Judging Day on Tuesday 10th July.
Steve Pascall, the new Chairman, has toured the High Street shops hoping to inspire them to fill the town with flowers.  "We have had an excellent response", said Steve.  "Everyone  is keen to join in; community  participation is very important and we are working hard to transform parks and open spaces, care for allotments, work with children and plant almost everything conceivable in likely and improbable places."
This week we have been approached by BBC2 with a view to having a slot in the television programme being broadcast at 6.30pm every day this week.  Starting in May, a television crew will track the efforts of volunteers to transform the town with flowers and, of course, enhance wildlife habitats and create a cleaner, greener environment.  Watch this space to see if we are chosen.
The picture illustrates the importance of community involvement.  We needed two strong young men to help move two of our flower troughs to the forecourt of Mistral on the High Street.  Within minutes, Waitrose Assistant Team Manager James Moody and Partner Jon Cooke had volunteered their help.  The photo shows the delighted Mistral staff Lesley Smith, Jilly Doyle and Jodi Cairns who have promised to weed and water their new acquisition.



Last but not least, local estate agent Jonathan Conning, Director of Henry George, has agreed to sponsor the Marlborough Gardening Competition for the  second year running.  Details will be circulated town wide so please enter your garden.  

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Following our elevation to the Champion of Champions class in the South West in Bloom Competition, Marlborough was awarded  GOLD in the main competition by judge Jon Wheatley, Chairman of SouthWest in Bloom.


Lord and Lady Fellowes, the Mayors of Torquay and Marlborough, Anne Crawley and Richard Beale at the Awards Ceremony

Jon reported,  "It was delight to walk around the many excellent horticultural and environment features that the Marlborough in Bloom group have developed over recent years.  You are congratulated on your GOLD award and excellent standards that you have achieved throughout the year.There is a very strong commitment to improvement and it was so interesting to see how the town council uses Bloom to deliver its collective services in most constructive manner which achieves many outcomes.  Above all we were impressed by the whole team approach and commitment of all involved.  You are a credit to the south west."

As if this were  not enough, six of our It's Your Neighbourhood entries received OUTSTANDING awards: Coopers Meadow, Marlborough College Gardens, Marlborough Community Orchard, The Merchants House Garden, Stonebridge Wild River Reserve, The Victorian Cemetery and The Waterfront Garden at Kennet Place.   Jon reported:"The excellent water meadows and Victorian cemetery are fine examples of IYN projects which have major influence on the overall Bloom entry.  The water  meadows along the River Kennet demonstrate how with vision and leadership the involvement of volunteers can be used to great effect and have long term impact upon a town."

His final comment was, "You should be congratulated on your excellent Portfolio, your wonderful hospitality, you really make Bloom fun.  One of the finest visits we have experienced."

Particular thanks go to Susan Wightman at Libanus Press. With text by Anne Crawley and photographs by Richard Beale, Anna Forbes, Charlotte Hitchmough, Nicola Salt and Richard Shaw, Susan has produced an outstanding Portfolio which is sent to the judges prior to their visit.  This year we were delighted to be awarded The West Country Tourist Board Trophy for The Best Judge's Portfolio.   As this covers the whole of the south west – Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire – this is a major  achievement.

Anne Crawley, Chairman of Marlborough in Bloom says: "It is wonderful that the dedication and love for our beautiful town has been recognised by these awards.  We will be presenting the certificates and trophies at the AGM on Tuesday 7th November at 6.30 p.m. In the Town Hall together with a display of the work of our volunteers and of the award winning portfolio."

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Some of the Marlborough in Bloom team celebrate on the Town Hall steps - photo courtesy of Nicola Salt

A full list of this year's excellent results can be read by clicking here.

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At 10 a.m. this morning Jon Wheatley, Chairman of South West in Bloom and Denise James, Secretary of South West in Bloom, senior judges from the South West in Bloom region start their tour of  Marlborough's Britain in Bloom entry for 2017.

This year Marlborough is up against some of the Premier League towns in the South West in the Champion of Champions section, competing against  Exeter, Truro and Portishead, and other towns with a history of successes in Britain in Bloom competitions.

The judges have a busy day ahead of them - they will visit the Merchant's House, Henry George, St Mary's Churchyard, the Green, Oxford Street, High Walls, the pubs in the Parade, the Marlborough Waterfront, Alma Place, St Peter's Church, Marlborough College and the Victorian Cemetery, and that's just before lunch!  They will see several butterfly themed shop window displays in the High Street, some shown here.   See also this article in Marlborough News Online


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