Derry is named top Small City in Bloom

Derry can now lay claim to being the most picturesque and environmentally ambitious small city in the UK after beating rivals from across the UK in the Britain in Bloom competition.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 11:52 am
John Quinn (left), Derry City and Strabane District Council Streetscape Manager, pictured with Floella Benjamin and William Ferguson, Grounds Maintenance Supervisor, receiving the Britain in Bloom Small City award. (RHS / Richard Dawson)

The city had been shortlisted after winning the Northern Ireland category of the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition recently. Derry was then entered into the Small City category in the national competition and was up against Rugby in Warwickshire, Harrogate in Yorkshire, Kirkcaldy in the kingdom of Fife, Scotland, and Loughborough in the East Midlands.

All finalists wee judged not only on their floral displays but environmental and community efforts. Each was visited by a pair of Royal Horticultural Society judges over a fortnight from the end of July.

The Derry team collected their award from Baroness Floella Benjamin, RHS Vice President, at the ceremony held in the RHS Lindley Hall, London. Commenting on Derry’s success, a spokesperson for the Royal Horticultural Society said: “The city’s environmental commitment shone through with a move towards pollinator-friendly planting, the expansion of traffic-free ‘greenways’ to link up parks and other green spaces, and the introduction of a Climate Adaption Plan”.

Judges visiting Brooke Park back in the summer.

The Britain in Bloom finals take place every autumn. It’s the longest running gardening competition in the UK and provides a regional and national platform for groups to brighten up their town or city, with many also reporting wide-ranging social and environmental benefits. The council have previously enjoyed success in the competition, but had never won the overall category prize.

John Quinn, Council’s Streetscape Manager, said it was a great success to come out on top in a competition with so many worthy entries.

“It was a privilege to pick up this award on behalf of Derry City and Strabane District Council, and it truly is testament to the hard work of so many people behind the scenes.

“We have all really enjoyed working with the various community groups, charity organisations and individuals on the many displays that we have across the city area, and to have that recognised on a national level is incredibly rewarding.

“A huge thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen, and we will strive to get bigger and better from here!”

Mayor Michaela Boyle also said it was another fantastic achievement for the city, and congratulated all those involved.

“This is an absolutely fabulous award for the city to receive and when you look around at the gorgeous displays we have I don’t think anyone will disagree that this is richly deserved.

“The colour contributes hugely to the vibrancy of the area, and coming out with first in the small city category really adds to our sense of pride of place and brings the whole community closer together.

“I want to offer a huge congratulations to John and his team in the council, and all the departments, community groups and individuals who have helped along the way to this award.

“It’s official – Derry is bloomin’ marvellous!”

Darren Share, Chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom judges, said: “Gardeners are increasingly having to respond to the changing climate, declining pollinator numbers and plastic waste and more communities are galvanizing people around these issues to bring about positive change.”

For more information on the Britain in Bloom awards, you can visit the Royal Horticultural Society website at