MONMOUTHSHIRE will again be dishing up an impressive number of entries for this year’s Britain in Bloom awards, and plans are already well under way to bring tough competition to Britain’s largest community gardening contest.

Usk Mathern, Mounton and Pwllmeyric – the latter three all being part of the same entry - will be vying to come out on top, among 70 other cities, towns and villages up and down Britain.

Now in its 56th year, 70 competition finalists will be going all-out to showcase their horticultural skills, community and environmental efforts.

Finalists, who were notified of their nominations in November, are put forward to the final based on their progress nationally and regionally, and compete across 11 categories including village, town and coastal.

Tony Kear, chairman of Usk in Bloom – now celebrating its 40th year, praised everyone for their efforts after yet another nomination.

South Wales Argus:

Tony Kear (left) receiving last year's award for the largest village category

“It is quite astonishing the level of voluntary work that is put in to make sure Usk in Bloom is successful,” he said.

“It isn’t just the gardeners either – we have had people doing administrative work for us, rugby teams coming to carry materials, and people holding events to fundraise for us too.

“They all deserve a huge amount of credit. Some of them might not even be that interested in gardening, but they recognise the good it can do for a community and they’ve bought into it.”

Last year the group claimed top spot for the large village category, and they have now embarked on a quest to retain their status.

“We want people to be wowed by our town and we are really looking forward to trying to retain what we managed last year,” Mr Kear added.

South Wales Argus:

Mathern, Mounton and Pwllmeyric in Bloom members with Chris Wheeler (back right) showing Wales in Bloom Winners Plaque 2019

Chris Wheeler, chairman of the Bloom project for Mathern, Mounton and Pwllmeyric, admits he has a touch of apprehension in the build up to the summer, but is mostly proud and excited after their nomination.

“It is a credit to our 80-plus volunteers that we have managed to get a chance to showcase our lovely villages again,” he said.


The group, which has also been invited to compete at Wales in Bloom in early July, won the village category at last year’s competition and are also hoping to repeat the feat.

“We are currently planning what we can do even better this time around – particularly for the World War One memorial at Mathern which is our real showpiece,” Mr Wheeler added.

“The community aspect of being a part of the project is what matters most.

“The gardening and making the villages look nice is fantastic; but inevitably when you’re involved in things like this you surround yourself with good people too who care about their communities.

“Everyone will get together a week before the big event to have our annual ‘Community Tidy Up Day’, where we can make the villages really stand out.”

South Wales Argus:

Members of Usk in Bloom

Nearly two-thirds of finalists are participating in town, city or other urban categories, reflecting growing recognition of the importance of plants and green space for both wellbeing and the environment.

Chair of the Britain in Bloom judging panel, Darren Share, who will be joining other judges to visit each entry in August, said: “We’re noticing more towns and cities keen to tackle some of today’s most pressing challenges by tapping into the benefits of urban greening, with reasons ranging from concerns about our changing climate and air pollution to turning the tide on high street decline.”

The Champion of Champions title, winners of each category and finalists’ medals – ranging from gold to bronze – will be announced in Manchester in October.

For more information about Britain in Bloom and to search for community gardening groups in your area please visit