|Cardiff has been selected by the Royal Horticultural Society to represent the UK in the prestigious, Europe-wide Entente Florale competition, the Champions League of bloom which puts the Welsh capital up against the most floral towns and cities on the continent.
When Cardiff won Gold and the Best Large City category in the RHS Britain in Bloom Awards staged in City Hall in 2005, the city was invited to be the UK entrant for the over 10,000 population category in this year's Entente Florale, joining small town Usk in an all Welsh UK team.
And on July 24, judges from 12 European countries will be in the capital to assess the quality of the city's floral displays, environmental management and the management of parks and green spaces. They will also be looking at our built environment, green strategies and tourism development.
The judges come from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK, and they will spend eight hours touring the city before deciding whether we deserve Gold, Silver or Bronze medals - awards that are made for life. The judges are all specialists in their field, and range from a Professor of Horticulture to a Tourism Consultant. (more) In addition to Cardiff the judges will visit 12 other European venues, including Kiel in Germany, Beaune in France, Pilsen in the Czech Republic, and Kilkenny in Ireland.
Cardiff follows the likes of Sheffield, Bath and Nottingham in competing for the UK, as Councillor Nigel Howells, Executive Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture said: "Being invited to represent the UK in Entente Florale is a great honour for the city and for Wales, and winning Gold will bring further high positive profile to the city, and enhance our reputation as a desirable place to live, visit and to do business."
Now with the clock ticking to July 24, the Council has launched a campaign to Help Cardiff Win Gold in Europe by encouraging local people to enter the annual Cardiff in Bloom competition and make the city look its best for the judges' visit. They are also working with partners including the Wales Millennium Centre, the Millennium Stadium and St Fagans National History Museum to create the best impression of the city.
Last year's Britain in Bloom judge Doug Stacey was very impressed with what he saw in Cardiff, and said: "Cardiff can be proud of an extremely high standard of horticulture throughout the city, especially the bedding schemes in Gorsedd Garden, and the herbaceous border in Bute Park. The waterfront park and wetlands reserve is excellent and there is wonderful involvement of children in planting the 100 Elm Avenue. The introduction of 'Thanks Banks' recycling units in the City centre is a great way to get more people involved with sustainable practices." The Entente Florale judges will be welcomed to the city by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Gareth Neale and their tour will feature a boat trip in Cardiff Bay, the national anthem as they enter the Millennium Stadium, a visit to City Hall hosted by the Lord Lieutenant, and a look at youngsters' activities in Marlborough Rd. School.
The judges will decide on the day which standard to award Cardiff, and we will find out our fate at a European Finals event in Germany in the autumn.