5 top tips for a successful Britain in Bloom judges’ visit

5 top tips for a successful Britain in Bloom judges’ visit

Entering Britain in Bloom is a year-round project. All those involved, from professional grounds staff to volunteers will have invested hundreds of hours into planning, planting and promoting their entry, but all that effort can go to waste if the judging visit isn’t well-planned and executed. 

There have also been some changes in judging criteria and marking allocation so, it’s important to ensure that you know what the judges will be looking for on their tour and to prepare carefully, even if you are a veteran of several judges’ visits.

The judges’ visit explained

A maximum of four people representing each entry are allowed to accompany the judges on their tour. These representatives should be carefully chosen; ideally, they will have been heavily involved in all aspects of planning as well as practical implementation of the competition entry. They should be good communicators who are able to present the entry in an enthusiastic way as well as answering any questions that the judges may have. There is a limited time allowed for each tour so aim to make the most of that time. There is also an additional 15 minutes available for press opportunities and 15 minutes for a presentation to the judges.  

Amberol’s top tips for a successful judges’ visit

Based on several decades working with Britain in Bloom groups across the UK, these are our top tips to maximise the opportunities to showcase your entry to the Britain in Bloom judges.

Make the most of the presentation

All finalists have the opportunity to give a presentation lasting a maximum of 15 minutes on judging day. The RHS advise that this should take place at the start of your tour to set the scene and highlight key achievements. The presentation should offer an overview of year-round working, demonstrating the range of activities carried out. Don’t just explain what they are going see; use this as an opportunity to showcase anything that they won’t be able to see on the tour, so they get as broad a view and as much information as possible. The presentation isn’t judged, but it inevitably impacts on the judges’ view of your entry, so aim to provide as much information as possible.  

Pay attention to planning

Plan the route carefully to include as many highlights as possible. Bear in mind that the judges will take note of anything they see on the route so walk it yourself and pay attention to everything that they will see on their journey. It can also be helpful to ask an independent observer to walk the route to compile a snagging list and give their feedback. A fresh pair of eyes may notice areas for improvement that you can’t see. You may also wish to plan transport along the route to enable the judges to see as much as possible, Get this organised well in advance and carry out at least a couple of dummy runs to allow for traffic and possible disruption. It’s also worth looking at the previous year’s feedback from judges if available to address any areas raised in previous judging visits. 

Look at the marking scheme

Make sure you plan the route and supporting activity with the marking allocation in mind. In 2019, this is as follows:

  • 40% allocated to horticulture
  • 30% allocated to the environment
  • 30% allocated to community

So, ensure that the judges see a range of initiatives representing all these areas and that the tour is organised to reflect how the marks are allocated. If possible, avoid taking the judges to places which do not provide evidence of at least one of the judging criteria. Having people along the route who can explain different projects is allowed and is one way of highlighting community involvement, particularly of this includes people from the business community or school children for example.

Amberol’s self-watering planters are often commented on by judges as a great way of conserving water as well as reducing maintenance to help score points in the environment category. All our self-watering planters and litter bins are made from recyclable polyethylene too. 

Presenting the portfolio 

This isn’t judged but is still an important part of your entry and should complement the tour as well as providing the judges with as much detail as possible. It should include information about year-round activities that they are unable to see first-hand. For RHS Britain in Bloom national entries, you should make three copies, plus one for your group as the original is not returned. Regional Bloom judges do not usually require three copies, or that they be available in advance, but it’s worth checking with your regional co-ordinator who will advise. 

The content is key: ensure it includes relevant information such as long-term plans, photos, maintenance schedules, etc. but try to not to overlap too much with what the judges will see on the tour. There are some rules that apply to all portfolios. They must be: 

  • A4 in size
  • No more than 30 sides or 15 sheets of paper (this is a maximum, not the recommended length) 
  • Minimum font size 10 point (11-12 preferred) 
  • No hardcover ring binders 
  • A maximum of five appendices can be included e.g. leaflets, press cuttings and any video clips

Last but not least …… Enjoy it! 

This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and hopefully a lot of fun along the way. It’s a chance to bring communities together, make new friends and to improve where you live or work. Ultimately, it’s a celebration - so make the most of the experience.

The 2018 Britain in Bloom judging guidelines can be found here. Please note, changes have been made for 2019. Click here to find out more. 

To find out more about Amberol’s range of self-watering planters, litter bins, planter ware or benches and tables, email sales@amberol.co.uk or call 01773 830 930.  

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