Cumbria Life: The Bee Lady and the Garden on Silloth Green

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Happy bees, bugs and butterflies in Silloth-on-Solway.


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The Heritage Rose and Bee Garden on Silloth Green has been highlighted in an article about Vivian Russell in Cumbria Life Magazine,  April 2016 Issue.

Supported by Silloth Town Council, who manage Silloth Green, Vivian gave much of her free time in 2015 to designing, planting and caring for the garden. Not only did she concentrate on the important horticultural aspects,  Vivian – known locally as the Bee lady –  also observed, recorded and painstakingly photographed the little visitors  attracted to the garden by her carefully chosen plants. New species are verified by other experts and recorded through the National Biodiversity Network.  Vivian will be volunteering her time again this year to ensure the garden blooms as brightly as it did in 2015, ensuring also that Silloth’s bees, bugs and butterflies are protected and will thrive in a healthy environment.

This year, the Heritage Rose and Bee Garden will be entered again for a Cumbria in Bloom ‘It’s Your neighbourhood’ Award along with the Community Garden on Criffel Street.  Both gardens will also be assessed along with the rest of the town by the Britain in Bloom judges, who will  be in the town for judging on 4th August 2016.


Silloth in Bloom Team set to Brighten the Town

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Local people have come together to form ‘Silloth in Bloom’ after hearing the fantastic news that Silloth-on-Solway has been chosen as a ‘Coastal Community’ finalist in the UK wide RHS ‘Britain in Bloom’ Campaign.

The town’s selection is a great achievement given the campaign is one of the largest horticultural operations in Europe, involving a thousand communities across the UK each year. Participating communities work together to make improvements that benefit the people who live, work and visit the town.

The selection of Silloth as a finalist has grown out of successful applications for awards from ‘Cumbria in Bloom’ and the Royal Horticultural Society over the past two years. Allerdale Borough Council and Silloth Town Council submitted applications for ‘Coastal Town’ Awards in 2014 and 2015; and Silloth Town Council in partnership with ‘Friends of the Green’ submitted applications for the RHS ‘It’s your Neighbourhood’ Awards. The town was presented to the judges in the best light possible, with advance preparations and presentations before judging tours.

These efforts behind the scenes bore fruit and resulted in the town gaining recognition. For two years running Silloth has won the Cumbria in Bloom ‘Coastal Town’ Award. In 2015, the ‘Special Category Continental Landscapes Trophy’ was awarded to Silloth for the Community Garden and the new Rose and Bee Garden, which were joint winners. In addition these two gardens were individual winners in the Britain in Bloom Royal Horticultural Society ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Category, each gaining a Level 5 ‘Outstanding’ result. These awards compliment the Council, its staff and all the local volunteers in Silloth, who work so hard to support the town, both in a horticultural and environmental sense and in terms of organising diverse events and supporting the many organisations and clubs in the town.

The Britain in Bloom judges, who will visit Silloth in August, will assess different locations in the town. They will be looking for floral displays and signs of a caring community, eg. picturesque residential gardens, environmentally friendly green spaces and features on the Green, attractive shop frontages, cleaner and greener streets and striking flower arrangements created by businesses and organisations in the town.

Without a doubt, community participation – along with a beautiful setting – is what gives Silloth its vibrancy. Involvement in what happens builds pride in the town. Referring to Silloth in Bloom, Bill Jefferson, Chair of the team, says:

“it’s very important that different people and groups in the town share responsibility. A light structure, with a minimum of fuss and bureaucracy is needed to kick start the four month period of preparation for judgement day. I would anticipate few general meetings; rather each sub-group getting on with its work. For example, Wendy Jamieson has agreed to coordinate/lead on the allotments. The Womens Institute (WI) are looking after the Discovery Centre Garden, with Ann Winter (representing Friends of the Green) and Vivian Russell leading on the Community Garden and Bee Garden respectively.”

Business involvement is also critical. Those who want to get involved or have an idea, please contact Don Graham, Silloth Chamber of Trade.

Anyone locally can join the ‘Silloth in Bloom’ Team and develop fresh ideas. The aim is to support existing local developments, and also create new projects that will make Silloth the best and most attractive small Coastal Town in the UK. There’s a lot that could be done and people in the town are urged to lend their support. Local residents, businesses, schools, churches, hotels, camp sites, sports clubs and all the different groups in the town have an important role to play.

Ideas on how some of the bare spots in the town can be improved are also important. Anna Malina, who is co-ordinating the Silloth in Bloom effort, says

“The whole idea is to have fun while improving how the town looks, and I’m sure if local groups and businesses put their heads together and work towards a common goal, they will be able to come up with some great ideas. The whole town worked together last year in preparation for the Cycle Race and that was huge fun and a great success. We all still remember Ralph.”

“Taking part in improving horticulture and creating flower displays as well as caring for the environment will create big improvements in the town. As the town is recognised regionally and nationally for its improvements and the lively participation of local people, more visitors will come and businesses in the town will thrive as a result. The domino effect is that local people will also gain since the whole town will ‘b[l]oom’ and have an even more exciting ‘buzz’ about it.”

So, it’s really important to get involved. New ideas are really important but to keep already high standards of care at the same level, the Community Garden and the Discovery Centre Garden urgently need new helpers. People in the town seem to enjoy them, so please give a little of your time to help keep them looking lovely.

Volunteers are also needed to help improve the more down at heel spaces in the town and make them more attractive. Funds can be raised locally to support developments, but some funding is available for special projects such as new floral displays and projects that will make a difference, for example, ideas that will make the town safer, or that improve the local environment by tackling conservation issues, graffiti or litter. Working to reduce anti-social behavior will also count and will have a positive long-term effect on the community as well as being integral to the Britain in Bloom award scheme. Other possibilities might include photography or art schemes illustrating horticultural, environmental and coastal aspects of the town. Things like art-work and photos, created by adults and children, can be sold to help fund new projects.

Community participation of this kind shows that the town has a positive civic spirit and believes in its own ability to identify problems, come up with solutions and then take action to make things better for everyone. Negative thinkers may believe that everything should be handed to them on a plate without anyone actually doing anything positive to make things better, however, it’s very well known that places with positive civic/community involvement that builds pride in the town are those that thrive best.

Future progress for the town lies in the hands of local people now. Horticultural skills are less important than a willingness to get involved. Age is not a barrier, and everyone from the older generation to children can do their bit for the town. If you have an idea and/or can give some help, please get in touch with Anna Malina: email or ring 07900922818 and leave a message. All welcome to come to the next meeting of the Silloth in Bloom Team, which will be held in the Community Hall in Petteril Street on Tuesday 5th April at 7.00pm. Come along and pack the hall out. New ideas are needed. So please get your thinking caps on, discuss them informally and get feedback and support from others in the team. For further information, see the website at: or visit the Facebook page


Joy as Silloth-on-Solway is named 2016 RHS ‘Britain in Bloom’ Finalist

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‘Blooming Marvellous.’ 

Silloth-on-Solway is overjoyed by the news that the town has been selected from more than 600 entrants to take part in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals 2016 in the Coastal Town (up to 12k) category. The recent announcement identifies Silloth as one of the best cared for communities in the UK and presents the Town Council and volunteers with a fantastic opportunity to promote what is happening in the town.

Andrea Van Sittart, RHS Head of Community Outreach, said: “We would like to congratulate Silloth-on-Solway for reaching the UK finals of RHS Britain in Bloom. It’s a tremendous achievement and illustrates the town’s impressive commitment to improving their local environment.”

“Volunteers of all ages and all walks of life participate in Bloom, making extraordinary efforts to improve streets and neighbourhoods in towns, villages and cities across Britain. It is vital we celebrate and recognise their efforts to strengthen their communities and inspire others to get involved.”

Britain in Bloom started in 1964 and is now a UK-wide campaign with a strong focus on environmentally friendly responsible practices, bringing people together to create greener and cleaner surroundings, as well as building civic pride. The Finals Judging Tour is to take place in August 2016, when judges will travel the length and breadth of the UK to visit all 72 finalists in under two weeks.

Along with the other finalists, Silloth will be judged on three criteria; ‘Horticultural Achievement,’ ‘Community Participation,’ and ‘Environmental Responsibility.’

Silloth Mayor, Tony Markley said:

“The Britain in Bloom campaign is as much about the community as it is about horticulture and the local environment. The Town Council and its staff provide support and work closely with volunteers to generate local pride and achieve the best for the town.”

Silloth Green has already been recognised as one of the District’s top green spaces, having achieved Cumbria in Bloom’s ‘Coastal Town’ Award for the past two years, as well as joint RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Awards in 2015 for the new Heritage Rose and Bee Garden and the Community Garden.

In addition to the Green, the Britain in Bloom judges tour will cover different areas of the town.

Bill Jefferson, Chair of the Parks Committee of the Council and Tourism Portfolio Holder for Allerdale Borough Council hopes that different groups in the town will come together to meet the Britain in Bloom challenge.

“We hope very much that members of the local community including residents, the business community, events, schools, churches, sports and youth groups will all step up to the plate and join the Council to work collectively to make Silloth look its very best before the judges visit. Improving the town will have added benefits, quality of life for local people will increase, visitors will get more enjoyment and businesses will profit too.”

“We are asking for support funding from the Government’s Coastal Community Fund and from HLF. We are also very grateful for the continuing support and advice from Allerdale Borough Council through their town centre manager, Joe Broomfield and to Vivian Russell, the creator of the widely acclaimed environmentally innovative Bee Garden.”

Cllr. Jefferson indicates that the next step is to invite representatives of the community, eg. residents, organisations, clubs, groups and businesses to join members of the Parks Committee in creating a vibrant ‘Silloth in Bloom” Team to take the town’s efforts forward.

Those who would like to get involved are invited to contact Cllr. Chris Graham ( or Anna Malina, the Community Engagement Officer (


For more information please contact Bill Jefferson on 016973 32526 or email:


Notes to editors:

Full list of 2016 Finalists:


Finalist Category Region / Nation
Aberdeen City Scotland
Ahoghill Champion of Champion (Small Town) Ulster
Amersham Town Thames & Chilterns
Barwick in Elmet Large Village Yorkshire
Beer Large Village South West
Belfast City Large City Ulster
Bellingham Village Northumbria
Birmingham Champion of Champion (Large City) Heart of England
Bournemouth Coastal over 12k South & South East
Bute Coastal up to 12k Scotland
Canterbury City Small City South & South East
Castlecaulfield Village Ulster
City of London Town London
Cleethorpes Champion of Champion Coastal over 12k) East Midlands
Colchester Small City Anglia
Coleraine Large Town Ulster
Colwyn Bay Large Town Wales
Congleton Large Town North West
Corbridge Small Town Northumbria
Dalston Large Village Cumbria
Deal Coastal over 12k South & South East
Derry City Small City Ulster
Dufftown Large Village Scotland
Durham Champion of Champion (Large Town) Northumbria
Elswick Village North West
Evington Urban Community East Midlands
Exeter Small City South West
Exmouth Coastal over 12k South West
Farnham Large Town South & South East
Filey Coastal up to 12k Yorkshire
Fordham Village Anglia
Freckleton Small Town North West
Gogarth (Llandudno) Urban Community Wales
Great Yarmouth Coastal over 12k Anglia
Haddington Town Scotland
Harrogate Small City Yorkshire
Hillsborough Large Village Ulster
Immingham Town East Midlands
Kendal Large Town Cumbria
Kippax Urban Community Yorkshire
London Borough of Ealing Large City London
London Borough of Havering City London
London Borough of Tower Hamlets City London
Loughborough Small City East Midlands
Lytham Champion of Champion (Coastal up to 12k) North West
Mablethorpe Coastal up to 12k East Midlands
Mancroft, The Lanes Urban Community Anglia
Market Harborough Large Town East Midlands
Mathern with Pwllmeyric & Mounton Village Wales
Middleton by Wirksworth Village East Midlands
Midsomer Norton Town South West
Newcastle Coastal up to 12k Ulster
Oldham City North West
Perth Large Town Scotland
Portishead Large Town South West
Rugby Small City Heart of England
Ryde Large Town South & South East
Silloth-on-Solway Coastal up to 12k Cumbria
Southport Coastal over 12k North West
St Brelade Coastal up to 12k Jersey
St George Urban Community South West
St Martin Town Guernsey
St Peter Port Coastal over 12k Guernsey
St Pierre du Bois Champion of Champion (Coastal up to 12k) Guernsey
St Saviour Small Town Jersey
Studley Small Town Heart of England
Tenby Coastal up to 12k Wales
Upton on Severn Large Village Heart of England
Walthamstow Village Urban Community London
Whitehead Small Town Ulster
Wigan Large City North West
Wisbech Large Town Anglia



About RHS Britain in Bloom

RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest community gardening campaign, involving up to 300,000 volunteers. As part of RHS Britain in Bloom – which includes grassroots community gardening scheme RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood – volunteers in cities, towns, villages, urban communities and neighbourhoods work together to improve their local environment, using gardening as a tool.
To find out more, visit:


About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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