Green-fingered parks teams in Preston have been crowned officially blooming marvellous by judges in a national competition.
The city council’s parks department won gold in this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) national flower bed competition, at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park.
The team also won best in show in their category, and were “thrilled” with their achievement.
Staff decided to theme this year’s floral display on the famous battle of Rorke’s Drift, which took place in the Anglo-Zulu war in South Africa.
Its link to Preston is Rev George Smith, an army chaplain, who settled in Preston after the war and is buried in Preston Cemetery.
Don Ingham, manager of Avenham and Miller Parks, said: “We’ve got a really good track record of entries into the national flower bed competitions over the last 15 years at various flower shows.
“We had an entry last year where we got a gold medal but not best in show.
“We’ve got a really skilled head nurseryman, Alan Rampling, who has been with the authority for 52 years, and with his creativity and expertise he’s managed to come up with a show-winning design.”
He described the awards as “very prestigious”, and said: “To get a gold, Alan was running around as if he had scored a goal at Wembley.”
The flowerbed was funded through a grant from the RHS, and teams worked around the clock to nurture the flowers ahead of the competition.
Don said: “I’m really thrilled.
“It just underlines the skill of our gardeners here at Preston Council, in particular in Avenham and Miller Parks, and it is nice we have been given the opportunity to show off those skills in the national arena.
“To walk away with best in show is fantastic, we are really thrilled to get the top award. It’s moments like that that make the job worth while and shows how much we are appreciated, not only in Preston but further afield.”
Coun Margaret McManus, Mayor of Preston, said: “This is a wonderful achievement.
“Congratulations to our parks department.
“They work really hard to brighten up Preston and this display is a showcase of the great work that they do.
“The staff have worked in their own time at evenings and weekends to get this display ready and the gold medal is worthy recognition of all their hard work. Well done to all.”