All gold for Ulster in RHS Britain in Bloom competition

All five Ulster finalists awarded gold medals in UK-wide community gardening competition

All five Ulster finalists awarded gold medals in UK-wide community gardening competition

  • Castlecaulfield and Hillsborough win best village categories
  • Belfast hosts awards ceremony for the first time

 Ulster’s community gardeners took home two top prizes and a haul of gold medals at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) annual Britain in Bloom awards ceremony held in Belfast last night. 

Five finalists were chosen to fly the flag for Northern Ireland following success in the Translink Ulster in Bloom competition the previous year. A total of 76 groups from across the UK competed in 12 categories with each also vying for a gold, silver gilt, silver or bronze medal.

Belfast, Derry, Ballymena and the villages of Castlecaulfield and Hillsborough battled what judges have declared the toughest year on record with communities nationwide fighting to keep blooms alive. All were awarded gold medals – the highest possible and reflecting an extremely high standard. 

Both Castlecaulfield in County Tyrone and Hillsborough near Belfast with its famous castle also topped their categories, winning best village and large village respectively.

In Castlecaulfield the group’s gardening efforts were described as “the social glue that holds the community together”. Not only does the village hold an annual horticultural show, it also boasts superb front gardens, a walled garden and a 3-D floral display of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

Hillsborough wowed the judges with its large blocks of seasonal and perennial planting, mini meadows on grass verges and the impressive restoration of the castle and its grounds.  

As well as scooping a gold, the town of Ballymena was recognised for its commitment to wildlife, including its management of woodland habitats and involvement in a bird ringing scheme to gather information on migratory birds. 

The full results for the RHS Britain in Bloom finalists representing Ulster are:





Large Town


Joint winner of discretionary award: Wild About Gardens

Belfast City 





Gold and category winner

Community champion award: Bob McClure

Derry City 

Small City




Large Village

Gold and category winner


Finalists are judged on their horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility with the RHS judges visiting communities from the end of July after months of hot and dry weather.   

Darren Share, Chair of the RHS Britain in Bloom judges, said: “This year’s finalists faced the most challenging conditions the competition has ever seen with much of the country under snow and ice at the start of spring followed by the joint-hottest summer on record.

“That so many groups have walked away with top medals is remarkable and a reflection of communities’ hard work, ingenuity and horticultural know-how.” 

The 54th Britain in Bloom awards ceremony was held at Belfast Waterfront. Finalists collected their awards from Chris Bavin, presenter of BBC Two’s Britain in Bloom TV series and guest speaker.

Belfast’s Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey said: “I feel very privileged and honoured that our city had the opportunity to host the Britain in Bloom awards ceremony 2018. I would like to congratulate all of the finalists and hope that everyone enjoyed the evening.”

The full results for RHS Britain in Bloom 2018 are here:

- Ends – 

For more information about RHS Britain in Bloom visit


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