We also make sure that the planters which we have installed at several key locations around Walmer are maintained and, with the help of our talented volunteers, bloom with beauty for most of the year.
Another important aspect of the work of the Councillors who organise the Festival and the willing volunteers who ensure that it all happens smoothly and well, is looking after Hawkshill - a former World War 1 airfield which the Parish bought to preserve it from developers and which provides a welcoming place to walk or just sit, look at the sea and think.
For the Councillors who organise this Festival and the volunteers who support them, work begins in January when they choose the colour scheme for the current year’s public displays and organise with local primary schools the competition to design a new poster.
Judging this competition and choosing winners from the literally hundreds of excellent entries is perhaps the most difficult part of the work of the Walmer in Bloom Committee, which has been chaired for more than twelve years by Cllr Sue Le Chevalier.
The winners and the winning School all receive a prize and every child who enters receives a certificate and the winning image is used to promote the competition on all the publicity material for that year.
Almost as difficult is judging the gardens all across Walmer because, unlike most competitions, our gardeners don’t even have to enter!
To make sure that everyone has an equal chance every July the judges walk along every road in the parish garden spotting and listing those whose efforts deserve to be acknowledged.
Many people will then be awarded certificates of achievement but this is, after all, a competition so short lists will be drawn up in the different categories and an experienced judge from the Royal Horticultural Society will visit the short-listed gardens and decide which of them should be awarded the ultimate prizes.
The top prizes, along with framed copies of the winning poster designs, will be presented to the winners at an annual ceremony and the whole event will usually be reported on by our local paper and featured both on the Council’s own website and in the Rural Roundup magazine.
But, there is much more to Walmer in Bloom than the competition. The committee and supporters manage over a dozen planters throughout the Parish with Winter and Summer planting. Many local organisations provide financial support to purchase the plants and their names are proudly displayed on their planter.
Working with local suppliers, each summer, we hang nearly 50 floral baskets from lamp posts along the seafront.
In 2019 the Hawkshill Working Group came under the management of the Walmer in Bloom committee. Many of the Councillors were already members of both groups so it was a natural move in terms of administration. Hawkshill has its own volunteers which meet on a regular basis to work on the Freedown and they are supported by outside contractors when appropriate.
Looking to the future, the Walmer in Bloom Committee is working with the Climate Change Emergency Group within the Parish Council to encourage an increase in bio-diversity within the Parish, the development of “bee corridors” and a reduction in the use of harmful pesticides.
If you are not a ‘committee person’ but think that you might like to be involved in the work of the committee and help make your Parish bloom with practical aspects on a “friends” basis then please let us know by contacting the Parish Office.