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Five Northern Ireland finalists announced for RHS Britain in Bloom 2020

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Varieties of flowers on display at 'The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden' at the Chelsea Flower Show on May 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Varieties of flowers on display at 'The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden' at the Chelsea Flower Show on May 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Varieties of flowers on display at 'The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden' at the Chelsea Flower Show on May 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Five Northern Ireland finalists have been shortlisted for this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom competition.

Now in its 56th year, 70 competition finalists will be going all-out to showcase their horticultural skills, community and environmental efforts.

Finalists are put forward to the UK final based on their progress nationally and regionally and compete across 11 categories including village, town and coastal.

The RHS revealed the nationwide finalists for the UK's largest community gardening competition, with Ballymena, Belfast and Cullybackey earning a place on the shortlist.

Donaghmore and Randalstown have also made it to the final.

Each will be visited by a pair of RHS judges in August as they vie for a medal, a category win and to be named 'Champion of Champions'. They will be judged on their horticultural, community and environmental efforts.

Last year, Castlecaulfield in Co Tyrone picked up the Champion of Champions award, but narrowly lost out to Scottish city Perth for the overall top honour.

Perth impressed with its whole-community approach to sustainability, pollinator-friendly planting and campaign to raise awareness of and collect plastic waste.

Nearly two-thirds of finalists are participating in town, city or other urban categories, reflecting growing recognition of the importance of plants and green space for both wellbeing and the environment.

Chair of the Britain in Bloom judging panel, Darren Share, said communities across the UK are increasingly recognising the value of green spaces to people and the planet.

Share said: “We’re noticing more towns and cities keen to tackle some of today’s most pressing challenges by tapping into the benefits of urban greening, with reasons ranging from concerns about our changing climate and air pollution to turning the tide on high street decline.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Manchester in October.

Belfast Telegraph