Baddow & Galleywood

June 2016 Speaker

HALSTEAD IN BLOOM - 8th June 2016

The June general meeting of Baddow & Galleywood U3A at the United Reform Church on Wednesday 8th June at 2.15 pm was opened by the Chairman, Avis Thompson who welcomed members and praised the Committee and helpers for the wonderful Tea Party held at the Galleywood Heritage Centre last Saturday afternoon. Well over a hundred members had attended and music was provided by the Music Performing Group (conductor Pamela Greenwood). Members also had a Royal quiz and a hat competition and delicious food and drink to enjoy during the time.

Then Brian welcomed the team of four from Halstead who were to explain how Halstead have won many awards for best floral displays as ‘Halstead in Bloom’. Julia Smith, Secretary to the Group, explained that in 1999, together with Michael Portway, a well-known local businessman, she called a public meeting attended by 40 people, where they explained what they proposed i.e. a community based team to brighten the town with floral displays.

The first success was a silver award by Anglia in Bloom in 2004 and then further awards in 2009 and 2010, followed by a coveted gold award as Best Town in Anglia – and the awards and accolades have continued to this day. In fact they have picked up Gold awards every year (sometimes in more than one category) since 2010. Julia then showed a number of slides showing an amazing range of displays throughout the town.

Julia handed over to Joan Gibson, the Floral Designer who had previously been a florist. She was responsible for the designs of beds, borders and displays. She brought and showed large cardboard plans of the plantings which are changed twice a year. She explained that one large bed had 52 bags of manure added to it! Joan then showed many slides to illustrate what some of the exhibits looked like when in flower and included a Jubilee display, one for D Day, one outside Halstead Hospital and a butterfly garden.

Margaret Eskins, Chairman of the Group, then continued the talk explaining how there was a lot more to winning gold medals than merely planting flowers. Monuments, bridges, walkways etc. all have to be cleaned up to show off the plants. This covers a large area from the Hospital to the Town Park. Not very glamorous work but nevertheless still essential. To achieve this, working groups meet each Tuesday, but the number of times they meet increases as planting out comes around and just before judges arrive, so that last minute cleaning can be done if necessary.

In conclusion Margaret Tyler told the meeting about her work with the uniformed organisations, Guides, Brownies and Rainbows - and also schools. Margaret showed slides whereby those involved filled wellington boots with soil and then planted flowers in them, which was very popular. Brownie patrol beds had been created and a garden club established at a school. This then helps to give youngsters an appreciation for plants and flowers and in time to get volunteers for working on the Halstead in Bloom project.

After the talk had concluded members raised questions including “Do you suffer much from vandalism? The answer was “In the early days some, but some were caught and given Community Service – helping to tend the Project. This virtually eliminated the problem”

The team were given a well—deserved round of applause for a most interesting afternoon. Part of the time they spoke a fierce storm had raged overhead!