Even though awarded
Gold Standard, for the second year in a row Usk just
missed winning Britain in Bloom in the national
Large Village class. The winners were
Hillsborough in Ulster. Usk's work on heritage
was also short listed for a discretionary award,
loosing to Scotland's Pitlochry. Chairman Tony
Kear said that being invited to take part in the UK
competition was an accolade in itself as well as a
Usk Church in Wales
School was short listed for a judges award but
narrowly missed out to joint winning schools in
Dalton, Cumbria and Norwich.
Marion's front garden 2014
Usk has won the Small Country Town class for
Wales in Bloom 2014 for the 33rd year in succession.
This year Usk was in a new class, Small Rural Town. Marion Powell, an Usk
gardener and Usk in Bloom volunteer has won the
award for the best front garden in Wales.
See more pictures of Usk in July ...
After the privilege of hosting HRH The Duchess of
Cornwall as part of the the RHS 50th Anniversary of
Britain in Bloom, The Volunteers at Usk in Bloom now
face an anxious wait for the results of the Wales
and Britain competition entries. Usk will actually
be hosting the Wales in Bloom National Awards
ceremony on Thursday 18th September at the Glen Yr
Afon Hotel with the Britain in Bloom gala dinner
taking place in Bristol on 16th October.
The judges gave incredibly positive feedback and
particularly praised the support of the business
community in the difficult economic climate as well
as the huge community spirit that exists which makes
Usk stand out from the other competitors.
UiB chairman commented "The tireless work of our
volunteers has produced some amazingly colourful
quality displays this summer which we are very proud
of. Twyn Square is particularly stunning supported
by businesses there. It's been a challenge keeping
the flowers in such condition given the extreme
weather experienced - at one point over 5,000 litres
a day was being used from the bore hole to water the
"I would like to pay particular thanks also to the
team at Monmouthshire County Council who contributed
so much in the days up to judging sweeping, tidying
and removing weeds".
On the back of Usk Open Gardens, the whole of the
Town has looked incredible. The Town Competition
results have just been announced and the awards
ceremony is being held on Sunday 26th October at the
Glen Yr Afon Hotel when it is hoped that a guest
from the RHS will present again the awards.
Usk in Bloom
a visit by HRH Duchess of Cornwall. We showed
her all that we do as a community for
"In Bloom" and why we have won Wales in Bloom for
the past 32 years.
So far this
year's weather has been challenging! The
boxes in Twyn Square grew ahead of plan in
the greenhouses at The Willows Nursery so a
hastily reorganised planting day coincided
with atrocious weather as was the following
week. Our volunteers though came out in
force and all we need now is some warmth and
sun to help the plants on their way. The
boxes on the Bridge have has a revamp thanks
to the blacksmiths at Llangibby and a few
coats of Hammerite. Our thanks go to Peter
and Jan Clarke for their sponsorship of the
Bridge displays provided by Usk Garden
The response from the business
community has once again been brilliant and
the take up of our hanging basket service
bigger than before has been a huge success.
Thank you to Kada Europe, the Three Salmons
Hotel, Roberts and Co and The Hall Inn for
their generous sponsorship of specific beds.
We also have had sponsors who wish to remain
anonymous. We are grateful for the
newly reformed Chamber of Commerce for
asking us to join the Group given our mutual
aims of promoting our town.
We have continued to replace the old rotten tubs in Twyn
Square and outside Clare Court with only a few more
to complete the refurbishment plan. With self
watering plastic containers, we should have
virtually eliminated all repair costs for future
years. The bed outside The Curtain Studio has been replaced as well.
We have been in
close discussions with Monmouthshire County
Council and Usk Town Council about the
concerns of Twyn Square as the centre piece
of Usk and of course our displays. Cobbles
are being replaced and
removable bollards put up outside Gallery in
the Square. The car park has a new exit to
allow easier walking to the benches, cobbles are
gradually being reset, signs being replaced and the
seats will be repainted. BT and the Post office
stepped up to the mark and we organised post and
phone boxes to be repaired
and repainted. The bench has been replaced
by a new one made from recycled plastic.
These were areas where we lost marks in the
competitions last years so ist isn't all
The Committee are busy planning
for three competitions. Wales in Bloom is 18th
July. The Town Competition date is set for 21st July
and Britain in Bloom is 5th August. This year we step
up into the Small Town category for Wales in
Bloom as our electorate is now over 2000.
We remain in the Large
Village category for Britain in Bloom!
Planting boxes and preparing tubs
Preparations for the summer are
well underway. The metal baskets from the bridge
have been sand blasted to remove rust and flaking
paint, then repainted. Poppies have been seeded
opposite the primary school to mark the centenary of
the outbreak of WWII. The Usk in Bloom team will be
meeting at the Willows nursery to plant up the
smaller containers for the square. These will be
positioned and the larger containers around the town
made ready and planted on the evenings of May 28th
and June 4th. The colour scheme has been
chosen - Purple, Pink and Cream.
One of the Royal Horticultural
Society’s “buzz words” for 2014 is “pollinators” -
plants attracting bees, butterflies and other
insects. In line with this Monmouthshire County
Council will be seeding the beds adjacent to the
car-park with a flower seed mix and this will be
copied in the WI bed adjacent to Priory Court.
In addition to these horticultural
endeavours we are also trying to tidy other areas of
the town including the repair and painting of waste
bins and benches. Various Public Works are
anticipated on some of the cobbled areas of Twyn
As ever volunteers are always required for planting,
display maintenance, DIY type projects, and
administrative requirements. You don’t have to
attend committee meetings or commit to a definite
schedule. Please contact Tony Kear at
email@example.com or on 07824 810182 if you are
able to offer any help.
Over 60 locals packed the Nags
Head in Twyn Square for Usk in Bloom's Annual
auction that saw over £5,700 raised to prepare for
another summer floral campaign to support Usk's
local trade and economy.
Over 130 lots were donated by local businesses and
supporters with well known character auctioneer
Chris Brain being kept on his feet for over 2 hours.
Bidders enthusiastically competed for a huge range
of items ranging from a holiday in West Wales,
lunches and dinners at local pubs and restaurants as
well as antiques and numerous bottles of wine and
champagne. Usk's HSBC staff, Heather, Jayne and Emma
tallied up the bids and efficiently balanced the
books at the end of the successful evening.
Chairman Tony Kear commented "we have yet again be
overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone in
donating and bidding on the night and are enormously
grateful to them as well as Simon Key and his team
at the Nags. We are now just starting to gear up for
our summer plans as we prepare for our Wales and
Britain in Bloom campaigns and this money raised is
a significant catalyst. We hope the incredible hard
work of our volunteers will continue to bring
visitors to our beautiful Town to enjoy the floral
displays boosting the local economy."
This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of the RHS
and Usk in Bloom are excited to be well into the
planning stages for their Wales and Britain
Campaigns - despite the atrocious weather!
Bulb Planting ready for 2014.
Volunteers potting up.
The 2500 daffodil bulbs planted in November are
just starting to make themselves known in the beds
and the colour scheme has been chosen - Purple,
Pink and Cream with Usk's heritage chosen as the
theme. Please do follow the colours - it makes a big
difference in the judging. In addition we will be
plating red poppies to commemorate the 100th
Anniversary of Word War one. We'd love you to
contribute in this way also - and hopefully we can
get your pictures later in the year.
Chairman Tony Kear and Campaign co-ordinator Carys
Davies travelled to the Stadium of Light - home of
Sunderland Football Club to meet the Britain in
Bloom Judges and hear of more tips and best
practices from the organisers and fellow contestants.
After 600 miles and 12 hours it was along day but
lets hope the conference will bring Usk home in
first place when judging takes place in late July
with a new revised tour of Usk. We are delighted
Wales in Bloom have appointed a Mentor - last years
judge John Woods - to assist us.
As ever we are always looking for volunteers..
Please do email us on
firstname.lastname@example.org or ring chairman Tony Kear
on 07824810182. We'd love to hear from you.