Welcome to the Bournemouth in Bloom Competition page! Every year, local residents and businesses compete with their best horticultural creations. Win or lose, rest assured that with your effort and participation, you are helping make Bournemouth a prettier place!

Everything you need to know about our Competition can be found in this page, including updates on the opening and closing dates and tips on how to achieve better results, so remember to visit back frequently.

(This page was last updated on Jun 17, 2017 @ 22:33)

What are the opening and closing dates for the competition?

The opening date was April 15th, 2017 and the closing date was June 16th, 2017.

Judging will take place in July.

What are the Competition Categories?

There are three main categories, Residential, Commercial & Public, and Trees, each with several sub-categories.  An establishment (residence or business premises) can only enter in a maximum of two sub-categories. If you wish to enter with more than one establishment (regardless of category), you will need to submit a separate entry for each, even if the individual representing both establishments is the same person.

Let’s see the sub-categories in detail:


Residential Category

Hanging Basket(s) DisplayOne or more hanging baskets
Front PatioMust be at ground level
Window Box Display
Balcony DisplayNot at ground level. Will require an appointment for judging.
Container GardenContainers located at ground level
Communal GroundsRetirement Accommodation Grounds, Flats Communal Grounds
Mobile Homes’ Private Gardens
Small Front GardenMust not exceed 100 sq. m. (see note below)
Large Front GardenMust exceed 100 sq. m. (see note below)

Note: These dimensions include hedges from boundary line to boundary line, all paths, driveways and outbuildings contained therein, not just the cultivated areas.


Commercial & Public Category

Best Hanging Baskets / Containers
Commercial & Community Public PremisesArcades, Libraries, Shopping Centres, etc.
Bars, Inns, Public Houses and Cafes
Loving Care HomesNursing homes, Rest homes, Respite, Care
Language Schools / Colleges
Bowling / Sports Facilities
Places of Worship
Environmentally Friendly SpacesSpaces for birds and wildlife
Small Hotel / B&BUnder 20 Beds
Large Hotels20 or more beds
BAHA Small Establishments
BAHA Large Establishments


Trees Category (new for 2017)

Best Small Ornamental or Flowering Tree
Bio- Diversity ContributionI.e. good bee tree or provider of habitat or food source for bats, birds or mammals
Champion TreeA tree notable for its sheer size or age or an example of an uncommon species or heritage value

The “Trees” sub-categories are being recognised for the first time and are open to both Residential and Commercial. They will be merited on a yearly basis which will be recognised at the Annual Awards Ceremony. To enter please follow the instructions on the leaflet form or our Online Entry Form (a link for that will appear here as soon as this year’s Competition opens).

Why isn’t there a “Back Gardens” sub-category this year?

After lengthy debate by the Committee it was decided that it would not be possible to include “Best Back Garden” in 2017.

What are the Judges looking for?

Do you think it takes the world to make a beautiful garden (and maybe win a prize)? It doesn’t! The judges will be happy to award points to your horticultural creation, as long as they can see some general guidelines have been adhered to.

Here’s what they’re looking for:

Your design should have a nice impact

Your garden should be practical and aesthetically pleasing. This means that the general appearance of the site should have a pleasant touch.

Keep it clean and well-maintained

Litter and weeds have no place in a beautiful garden. And nobody likes grass with empty patches or parts of it left uncut. Also, remember to take extra care of the hard landscape too.

Have a good range of permanent planting

Surely a garden on its own can look pretty, but if it has trees, shrubs or perennials in or around it, the judges will be even happier.

Keep them healthy

Good maintenance of your garden is really important. Plants are alive and they sometimes get sick. Good pest and disease control is always a bonus.

Got any seasonal bedding displays, containers or hanging baskets?

Excellent, we all love these. Remember that their colour scheme and design are of great importance. Your display should be nicely balanced and well-maintained.

The main idea is that it’s not your neighbour’s garden you are competing with. It’s the general appearance of your garden as a standalone entity. Think of it as competing against the best you could do within the space you have and its given limitations.

And what about the Trees category?

When you plant a tree, or take on the stewardship of an existing one you are making a significant contributions you can to the natural landscape of Bournemouth’s urban environment.

Trees within a garden are often a focal point but can also pose horticultural challenges to test the skills of the gardener. Incorporating a tree, particularly a large one, successfully within a garden design demonstrates a breadth of knowledge and imagination. Bournemouth, more than most other towns, can link its inception and development to its trees.

The Pines of Bournemouth are known worldwide and to recognise this we will have two categories within this years competition. Two awards will be given, one for small tree species and one for medium/large.

Judges will be looking at factors such as:

Bio Diversity

Trees that provide the widest range of habitat and food source and shelter for birds, mammals and insects, particularly pollinators.


Trees are the only natural structures large enough to soften and screen the built environment. Their longevity gives a landscape continuity and a link to a more natural habitat.


A tree of particularly good form for its species which may indicate, competent formative pruning and/or appropriate pruning for maintenance.


An unusual species or example or a tree that is a feature of the landscape.


We wish you the best of success!

When will the judges visit me?

Judging does not have set dates. It takes place during July. Judges will not give any advance warning on when they will visit you. They may visit you on any day whilst the judging season is on. They expect to see well-maintained horticultural creations that are lovingly looked after, not just for the duration of the Competition, but for as long as the weather and conditions permit. After all, excellence in horticulture has no set date, it’s a passion for life!

It is important to mention that all our judges are volunteers who devote much of their free time in helping with the Competition and making Bournemouth in Bloom grow. We kindly ask that you facilitate their task if participating under the “Balcony Display” sub-category where an appointment will be needed for judging. Failure to accommodate them will automatically disqualify your entry for this category.

How are the Awards determined?

Each sub-category is judged under 5 different criteria:

  • First Impressions (max 20 points)
  • Overall Effect (max 20 points)
  • Design Planting (max 20 points)
  • Variety of Plants (max 20 points)
  • Quality of Plants (max 20 points)

The above are then summed up to find the total points. Here’s a sample marking sheet:

Sample Marking Sheet
Sample Marking Sheet

The maximum an entry can receive is 100 points.

These points then determine what Award the entry will receive, as follows:

100 - 85Gold
84 - 75Silver Gilt
74 - 60Silver
59 - 50Bronze
49 - 45No Award, "Highly Commended" Certificate
44 - 41No Award, "Commended" Certificate

The way the marking system works means that a Gold Award might be given to more than one participants, as long as they acquire the points required for the Gold. The same applies to all other Awards. That is why we noted above that participants are not competing against each other but against their better self.

The entry with the most points for each sub-category wins the “Sub-Category Winner” title. As an example, if no entries achieved the points required for a gold but some achieved enough points for a Silver Gilt, the entry with the most points for this specific sub-category will be the Sub-Category Winner. This means that the Sub-Category Winner is the entry with the most points, even if these points aren’t enough to get a Gold.

All entries automatically participate in the “Best Overall Entry“.

When is the Awards Ceremony?

Our prestigious Prize-giving Ceremony will be held at 7:30pm on Wednesday 18th October 2017 at the Carlton Hotel, Grove Road, East Overcliff, Bournemouth, BH1 3DN (click here for a map). You can see the results and photos from the Bournemouth in Bloom 2016 Awards Ceremony here.

Notification of winners will be given in advance of the prize-giving ceremony.  It is expected that award winners will attend the ceremony or send a representative.

I have a question about the Competition that is not covered here. Who can I contact?

If you find any difficulty or have any questions about the entry form, or need any clarification in regards to the Competition, please contact our Secretary, Mrs Beryl Parker BCAv at 01202 512717 or via the Contact Us page.