Aberdeen victories at Beautiful Scotland awards

Aberdeen City Council and several community groups were this afternoon crowned top in several categories at the Beautiful Scotland horticultural awards.

The Aberdeen Beautiful Scotland Award winners are:
*Aberdeen City Council (for Seaton Park) - The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Trophy
*Aberdeen Inspired - Silver Gilt Medal Award, BID Category overall winner
*Growing Smarter, The Granite City – Gold Medal Award, City Category overall winner
*Powis Residents Group - Bronze Medal Award, in the Flatted Community Category
*Cove in Bloom - Silver Medal Award, in the Urban Community Category
*Culter in Bloom - Silver Gilt Medal Award, in the Urban Community
*Dyce in Bloom - Silver Gilt Medal Award, Urban Community Category overall winner

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Infrastructure vice convener Councillor Jean Morrison said it was a fantastic achievement by all.

She said: "Congratulations to everyone who was involved – it's a fantastic achievement and is an accolade to all the hard work put in by all.

"Our parks, rangers and events team staff members put in a huge effort to ensure our green spaces are fun and accessible places with events on for everyone, and of course are also beautiful throughout the year.

"The community groups also have to be congratulated for the amount of work and effort put in by them to help make this happen and they are a very important part of ensuring our beautiful city has green spaces and flower beds we can be proud of."

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: "We sometimes forget the massive impact that a clean and safe environment has on local communities. But, there is ample evidence that a good local environment can deliver a broad range of associated benefits in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing, community cohesion and civic pride, and the creation of economic opportunities.

"All the Beautiful Scotland entrants make a difference, and today's Award ceremony is an important opportunity for us to recognise the efforts of everyone involved.

"The 'Granite City' has excelled this year, with seven awards being bestowed on the local authority and communities. I would like to congratulate them all for their efforts to make Scotland a cleaner, greener place for us all to enjoy today and tomorrow."

The event at Perth Concert Hall today was hosted by Perth and Kinross Council and awards were presented by Provost Liz Grant. The prestigious Beautiful Scotland Rosebowl Award for 2015 was presented to Bute in Bloom. About 200 delegates from Beautiful Scotland entrant groups attended the celebration, which marked the arrival of three new entrant groups for 2015.

The Beautiful Scotland Awards are managed and delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful, a member of the RHS Bloom Federation. Entrants are judged by a team of expert volunteer judges on their year-round achievement of the three pillars. Awards are presented to a range of local authorities and communities who have achieved the highest scores in their categories, with Discretionary Awards given to those who demonstrate excellence in their commitment to the campaign. Some winners will be nominated to represent Scotland in RHS Britain in Bloom in 2016.

Last month, two of the judges met Aberdeen City Council officers and some of the 92 community groups which have shaped the city's entry into the competition.

They were taken on a tour around many of the city's green spaces including Duthie Park Johnston Gardens, Union Terrace Gardens, Walker Dam, Hazlehead Park and Seaton Park.

The Beautiful Scotland judges' comments were: "Seaton Park is one of the jewels within Aberdeen's parks portfolio. The Cathedral Walk epitomises the high standards of design, plantsmanship, and maintenance of a formal bedding display that includes hardy annuals and half hardy annuals, framed by mature sustainable plantings in a parkland setting. The lawns are maintained to an exceptional high standard, showing a great degree of skill and knowledge by the small team who are ably supported by a dedicated Friends of Seaton Park who work in close co-operation."

During their visit to Aberdeen, the judges also saw other environmental projects carried out at North Deeside Road, Cults, Great Southern Road school beds, 30 hanging baskets made by the schoolchildren from Hazlehead Primary, Hazlewood School and Kingsford School on Hazlehead Avenue, Hazlewood School, planting by Ferryhill Primary School at Duthie Park Winter Gardens with bee-friendly plants, and hanging baskets on display made during Aberdeen City Council-run workshops, and the participants included schoolchildren and social enterprise groups.

Several groups welcomed the judges at Duthie Park as part of the tour and others said goodbye at St Machar Cathedral with photographic displays of their work. These community groups included Friends of Hazlehead, Friends of Duthie Park, Garthdee Fields Allotments Association, Nether Loirston Growers Association, Cove in Bloom, Culter in Bloom, Allotment market stall, Rock Garden Club, Friends of Seaton Park; Friends of Victoria & Westburn Park, Dyce in Bloom, and Powis residents.

Horticultural achievements in Aberdeen over the past year included the Garden In Bloom competition, displays of spring bulbs such as crocus or daffodils, window boxes, street planters, sponsored roundabouts and beds, hanging baskets, the Duthie Park Winter Gardens, and the schools' design a bed competition.

The community groups in Aberdeen which helped win the awards included schools, churches, community gardening clubs, third sector organisations, Hazlehead Grove Nursery, community clean-ups, wildflower seed sowing, parks, and Aberdeen Spring Flower Show.

Projects showing environmental responsibility include East Tullos Burn, wildflower strips on the A90, the return of the red squirrels, the RSPB Dolphin Watch scheme, the Scottish Seaside Awards, Big Belly solar-powered bins, and a hot water weed control system.