Carrickfergus and Whitehead have been selected from more than 1000 entrants to take part in this year’s Britain in Bloom finals.
They will be representing Northern Ireland in two of the twelve categories in the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual competition, now in its fiftieth year.
Ulster in Bloom nominated the two areas for the national finals of the competition following the regional stage of judging in 2013.
Both were selected for engaging every element of the community, for demonstrating an exceptional commitment to helping the environment and for horticultural excellence.
Carrick will be joining Belper, Colwyn Bay, Congleton, Farnham, Malvern, Perth, Truro, Wisbech, Alton and Durham in the Large Town category. Whitehead, which won the silver gilt award in the Coastal Town category in 2008, will be joining Cranbrook, Dunnington, Pitlochry and Sedgefield.
During July and August, both areas will be visited by two RHS judges who will meet community representatives and go on a tour of local projects.
As well as the usual bedding displays, judges will inspect everything from local recycling initiatives to areas of natural habitat and conservation. They will also be looking at the management of street furniture and public parks, and will be assessing how well the group is responding to climate change and budget limitations.
Results will be announced at an awards ceremony in Bristol in October and will be attended by representatives of all 74 finalists.
Mayor of Carrick Alderman Billy Ashe said: “Last September, we were delighted with winning the accolades of five Ulster in Bloom awards, the most ever in any year since the inception of the competition. Building on this achievement, this year’s nominations to Britain in Bloom provide a great opportunity to represent Northern Ireland in these two prestigious categories. I look forward to seeing the beautiful displays that will not only enhance our borough for local residents, but have a vitally important role in bringing people and investment to the locality.”
Parks and Countryside Sub-Committee chair Alderman May Beattie added: “Our ‘In Bloom’ activities are much more than merely planting bedding plants and making the borough look good for one day during the judging period. Instead it is a 365-day initiative that involves many people committed to making long-term sustainable improvements to the environment.”