Edinburgh hopes for European floral contest

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THE Capital’s parks and gardens have been flying the flag for Britain in a major European floral contest.

The city is competing in the Entente Florale, Europe’s biggest environmental competition, for the first time, after beating more than 22,000 entrants to make it to the final round following its win in Britain in Bloom last year.

Finishing touches are added to the Floral Clock in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Toby Williams

Finishing touches are added to the Floral Clock in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Toby Williams

City chiefs are hoping all 11 judges who came from as far as Austria and Croatia to tour parks, streets and gardens yesterday will now give the city a “green-fingers” up.

The judges were scoring everything from the green spaces, tourism, leisure and how sustainable the city is particularly focusing on recycling.

They visited the High Street, a community project in Dunbar’s Close Garden and also took a look at what children had been getting up to in Cowgate Nursery’s playground.

David Jamieson, council parks and greenspace manager, said the council had spent nearly nine months preparing for the “judgement day” after finding out Edinburgh had been selected last November.

“They judge everything they see and everything they hear so the landscape of the city is very important and how it all works as a city,” he explained.

“If Edinburgh cannot win I’m not sure who can. It’s great coming into the festival – even though it’s been difficult coming through the crowds it really shows people who have never been to Edinburgh just what a vibrant and dynamic place it is.”

Jury chair Rudi Geerardyn said the judges were looking for more than just flowers and would be particularly concentrating on the sustainability of the city and the better quality of life it creates for residents.

And it seemed the city gave a blooming good impression with Mr Geerardyn saying they had been impressed with the view from Calton Hill and other key spots such as the Royal Mile and Holyrood Park.

He also praised the “wonderful” Grassmarket Community Project, a charity which works with homeless and vulnerable people to develop their skills in horticulture, cooking and woodwork.

Talking about what makes a winning entrant he said: “We have ten criteria in our competition and it depends on a lot of things but each country is different and has its own style.”

“The competition is a starting point and we want to encourage all the people involved to make it better for those in the future.”

Grassmarket Community Project workshop manager Tommy Steel said being part of the competition had given their members “focus” and “a real sense of achievement, as they see the fruits of their labour”.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson, who hosted the judges, said the city was “honoured to be representing the UK”.

The results are revealed on September 26.