Two Northumberland towns have scooped gold in the Britain in Bloom awards.
Morpeth and Ponteland landed the honours at the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual Britain in Bloom awards ceremony in Belfast last night.
Morpeth won gold in the town section. It wowed the judges with vibrant planting at Sanderson Arcade, pockets of wildflowers and the restored floral clock with working mechanism in Carlisle Park.
Ponteland won gold in the small town category and was praised for its 'wonderful' community spirit, sensory garden and poppy display to commemorate the First World War centenary.
Mayor of Morpeth Jack Gebhard received the award on behalf of the town.
He said: "We were in a really competitive category this year as five other towns received top awards.
"The judges pointed out how impressed they were by how we engaged the community and how all of our partners contributed to an outstanding effort.
"On behalf of the town council, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed, including Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, the county council, Sanderson Arcade and all of the other groups.
"A special thanks must also go to Heighley Gate garden centre who provided the flowers and whose har-working staff provided the expertise that took us from good to outstanding.”
Durham and Ponteland joined Durham and Tanfield as the four finalists chosen to fly the flag for the region following success in the Northumbria 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.
Durham won the small city category and was awarded a gold medal, while Tanfield in County Durham earned a silver gilt in the village category.
All battled what judges have declared the toughest year on record with communities nationwide fighting to keep blooms alive.
Finalists were 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, chaiman 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 Northumbrian finalists collected their awards from Chris Bavin, presenter of BBC Two’s Britain in Bloom TV series and guest speaker at the awards ceremony.