The town of Royal Leamington Spa has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘In Bloom’ event for over 30 years, entering the Heart of England Campaign’s Large Town’ Category.
During that time the Town has won many accolades in the competition for its splendid Parks and Gardens, residential and business areas. In the past five years the town has won four Gold Awards (2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) emphasising the quality of the input from the Leamington in Bloom Committee and its many supporters.
In the heart of Royal Leamington Spa, the Jephson Gardens, the jewel in Leamington’s Crown, are true pleasure grounds which have been delighting visitors and local residents for over160 years. They are a welcoming retreat in our lively Regency town, with stunning floral displays, soothing fountains, birds and squirrels, spacious lawns and promenades, all framed by a collection of fine trees. The ‘Jephson Gardens’ were awarded the title of ‘Best Park in Britain’ in 2004 by the Royal Horticultural Society and continue to maintain that high standard. Jephson Gardens are the civic and horticultural centrepiece of the unique Leamington Spa Gardens, a sequence of green spaces including Victoria Park and the Royal Pump Room Gardens along the River Leam, planned in the late 19th century. Mill Gardens was the last to be created, in 1903, forming one riverside landscape with Jephson Gardens.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has supported not only the restoration of historic structures, such as the ornate Victorian tearoom, but also the contemporary new restaurant, teaching studio, and sub-tropical glasshouse on the site of a redundant nursery. Exhibitions and publications tell the story of plants and the history of the Gardens. The refurbishment of the boat house in Mill Gardens, the reintroduction of boating and a new play area offer facilities which complement those of Jephson Gardens.
In 2007 Jephson Gardens received the prestigious ‘Green Flag Award’ which is awarded, by the Department of Communities and Local Government in recognition of the high environmental standard achieved. This standard continues to be achieved and is recognised by the continuance of the annual
Award, which acclaims the Gardens as a benchmark of excellence in recreational green areas.
The Town is a Green Heritage Site winner. Green Heritage Site status is sponsored by English Heritage and promotes the value of, and best practice in, the care and upkeep of parks and open spaces in England that are of local or national historic interest. In 2000 the Green Apple Silver Award was awarded to Royal Leamington Spa in recognition of the restoration work carried out on the Royal Pump Room Baths and Assembly Room which was completed in 1999. The award was created in 1994 and all winners are recognised for their contribution to the built environment and architectural heritage.
The annual ‘Leamington in Bloom’ campaign is run by a Committee made up of local volunteers representing a wide spectrum of Horticultural and Floral Societies, residents with a keen interest in developing their own neighbourhoods for the benefit of the town and representatives from Royal Leamington Spa Town Council and Warwick District Council. There are currently twelve members on the Committee.
The Committee works in partnership with local Community Groups such as the Bromford Housing Trust and Transition Town Leamington Spa, the Sydni Community Centre, Brunswick Healthy Living Centre and the Chain in Lillington giving advice and support both to the organisations and to their customers and helpers. Several members of the Committee are also involved with local groups and clubs such as the six Allotment Societies which serve the residents of Royal Leamington Spa, the Horticultural Society and Leamington Flower Club.
Local Primary and Senior Schools are invited to participate in events during the year and to take part in schemes organised nationally by the RHS and regionally by Heart of England in Bloom. Many schools have ongoing gardening projects which are supported by ‘Leamington in Bloom’ and in 2010 St Paul’s Primary School won the Heart of England In Bloom School Involvement Award.