North Devon is very lucky to have some wonderful parks where people of all ages can go and relax.
I recently spent a pleasant hour at Bicclescombe Park in Ilfracombe, which is tucked away in a sheltered and sunny valley.
It was formally opened in 1911 as Bicclescombe Park Pleasure Gardens and I can see why.
The Wilderbrook stream runs through this park, which looked amazing with its jubilee flower displays.
The stream feeds Boat Lake, Duck Pond and Mill Leat, which powers the mill wheel. I was amazed at the variety of trees that the park contains, as well as the numerous shrubs and the sensory garden. The tennis courts were fully occupied and it was idyllic to sit and enjoy a coffee in the Old Mill house and tea rooms.
The only slight disappointment was to hear that Ilfracombe is not entered in the Britain in Bloom competition this year. I know that in the past the town has done exceptionally well by entering the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual competition.
As a member of the South Molton in Bloom committee, I know how hard volunteers work to keep the town looking great.
It’s not just about growing flowers, it’s also about coming up with new ideas, writing a portfolio and raising thousands of pounds every year.
The work continues throughout the year, but the big goal is to bring many members of the community together. Last year was the first time South Molton had entered in many years and we were delighted to win the gold award for our category. Sue Harrison and her team did an amazing job of getting the group to take action.
As Chairman of South Molton Community Gardens I was also very pleased that we won the top award for community gardens.
So it’s been a challenge to do well again this year, although the main goal from my point of view is to help lift the spirits of residents as we’ve all been through and are facing tough times as a result of Covid and the cost of living crisis. In addition to the work of the committee members, other residents made a special effort with their front gardens, school children got involved and businesses decorated their windows.
So it was a real community effort.
Recently, two lady referees from RHS came to see what we did. Touring the city took most of the day to see the numerous displays and visit the community gardens and wildflower meadow.
Now we have to be patient until October, when the result of the competition will be announced to us. Barnstaple also go through the same process and have a long tradition of entry and success in Britain in Bloom. Councilor Louisa York told me that the judge for Barnstaple is on July 28th.
North Devon Council is also taking steps to support wildflowers and our bees and insects. During the month of May we let the grass grow wild on a number of our green spaces in support of the ‘No Mow May’ charity campaign.
We’ve encouraged individuals and organizations to lock up their lawnmowers for an entire month in an effort to encourage wildflowers and support local wildlife. Our aim is to increase the area of wildflower meadows by 20,000 square meters by 2025 to enable a much richer environment that supports pollinators such as bees, butterflies and other insects.
I personally love seeing the variety of wildflowers blooming along our shorelines and open spaces. Outside our representative offices in Brynsworthy there was a nice sight of wild flowers again this year. However, in recent years I haven’t seen as many butterflies in my garden as I did a few years ago. Butterflies such as peacock and red admirals appear to be much less numerous than a decade ago.
Hopefully we can create an environment where they can flourish again. As a council we want to support biodiversity across North Devon. Hopefully we can all do our part to support the colorful and diverse landscape in our area.