Green fingers: some young gardeners pitched in to help this year’s Islington in Bloom competition to flower, at the launch event. Photographs: Islington Council

Get primping your petunias and sprucing up your scillia – Islington in Bloom is back for another year, launching across Whittington Park, Paradise Park and Duncan Terrace Gardens.

While locals took part in free plant plotting, nature trails and gardening advice sessions this past weekend, Islington Council and Islington Gardeners (organisers of the annual gardening competition) prepared themselves for a host of applications – representing pretty much every blooming part of the borough.

But what are the judging criteria? What are the categories, and judging criteria? And perhaps most importantly – what are the prizes? We answer those questions and more below:

When can I apply?

Entries are accepted until Sunday, 3 June and judging takes place from Monday, 18 June until Friday, 6 July.

How can I apply?

Either online on the official website, or by picking up a paper form from any of Islington’s libraries and leisure centres, and the reception areas in the Town Hall and 222 Upper Street.

What prizes can I win?

Every entrant will receive a free bag of compost from Camden Garden Centre. Category winners receive a £100 voucher to spend there in the Regent’s Canal-side establishment, while second and third place finishers will receive vouchers worth £75 and £50 respectively.

Who is eligible to enter? What are the categories?

Any Islington resident or business is allowed to apply, and Andrew Bedford, Head of Greenspace and Leisure at Islington Council, puts it this way: “anyone with a box, balcony or garden that can be seen from the street is eligible.” To get specific, we have to look into the sub-categories to be awarded, which are as follows:

Best Front Garden (sponsored by Camden Garden Centre): All the planting in the front garden of a single residential property. Must be visible from the street. Must include some planting in the ground, but may also include some plants in containers.

Best Container Garden (sponsored by Camden Garden Centre): Any patio or balcony that is visible to the passing public and in which ALL the planting is in containers.

Best Tree Pit (sponsored by Gristwood and Toms): Any ornamental planting in the soil around a single tree on a street or estate.

Best Street (sponsored by CVU): All the planting visible to the passing public in any single street/road/avenue etc. including front gardens, window boxes, tree pits, forgotten corners, etc.

Best Children’s Planting (sponsored by Islington Council Greenspace): A garden on the premises of a school, youth centre, adventure playground or similar which has been improved and maintained with the involvement of children or young people.

Best Blooming Pub or Business (sponsored by Islington Council Greenspace): A display of plants visible to the passing public or customers on the premises of any pub, restaurant or other business.

Best Community Garden (sponsored by NSL): Any community garden which is run by a non-profit organisation or charity for whom community gardening is a primary purpose.

Best Community Centre Garden (sponsored by Better Leisure): Any garden on the premises of a community centre, therapy centre, day centre or similar, which has been improved and maintained with the involvement of service users.

Best Residential Communal Garden (sponsored by N1 Garden Centre): Any garden on public land, such as in a park or housing estate, which has been improved and maintained with the involvement of local residents.

Best Forgotten Corner (sponsored by Islington Gardeners): Any garden on a formerly neglected piece of private land, which is visible to the passing public and which has been adopted, improved and maintained by an unpaid individual or group of volunteers.

Best Retail Street or Area (sponsored by Islington Gazette): A display of plants visible to the passing public or customers, on a parade of commercial premises.

What’s the ‘big’ award?

Possibly ‘Best Ward’, which honours the ward with a combination of the most and best quality entries.

What are the judging criteria?

The first and foremost thing the judges are looking, for according to the list of criteria on the council site, is an “overall WOW” factor. Displays will also be judged on how weed-free and well maintained they are, the mixture of plants (seasonal and perennial; different shapes and sizes; colour schemes) as well as sustainability and provisions for wildlife, such as bird boxes or bug hotels.

Can my/our display include edible plants?

Yes absolutely, the criteria also reminds us all that “nothing tastes better than something you have grown yourself.”
020 7527 6394