The sun shone as the people of Ballymena gave a special welcome to Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom judges Kim Parish and Nigel Bishop.
The judges were in the town on the final stop of their journey around the United Kingdom as they judged the large town category as part of the Britain in Bloom finals this year.
The judges were thrilled as they were taken around the town.
Beginning at Tullyglass House Hotel they enjoyed the warmest of receptions from Gus McConville and the team.
The tour then took the judges to the home and gardens of Margaret Glynn where they learned about Margaret’s love of gardening and how she has transformed her gardens over the years.
After a quick stop in Memorial Park, the judges were whisked off to Ecos Nature Park where they were delighted to hear about the work of the ‘Friends of Ecos’ group and were overjoyed to get hands on with local ornithologists as they worked at the Constant Effort Site, making records of birdlife within the park.
After stopping off to meet some of this year’s participants at the Biodiversity Summer Scheme, the judges were taken to the town centre where they met with Gillian Matthews of Willow Beauty and heard about her success in the local In Bloom competitions before learning about the public realm scheme and meeting with Alison Moore and Trevor Parker to hear about the fantastic work of Ballymena Business Improvement District at Wellington Court.
Having taken in the magnificent floral art and horticultural displays around Church Street 3 car park, The Braid and North Road the judges then enjoyed a splendid afternoon tea with gathered guests at People’s Park.
Speaking at the reception, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Cllr Paul Reid said: “The town has undergone a wonderful transformation in recent months with so much of the town awash with colour thanks to hanging baskets, window boxes, railing planters and traditional bedding plants.
“However, what strikes me the most is the fact that so much of the planting and environmental improvements throughout the town are due to the efforts of local residents, businesses, churches, charity and community groups.
“It is down to partnerships working with the council and is a credit to the people of Ballymena and I wish them every success in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition.”
Ballymena will be judged in the Large Town category, competing with the best of the best across the UK, and the results will be announced at the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Wales this October.