GALLERY: Wisbech in Bloom competitors are growing for gold as Britain in Bloom judges visit town

PUBLISHED: 16:25 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:40 04 August 2014

From left: Brian Massingham and Penny Stocks of Wisbech in Bloom, judges Darren Share and Jon Wheatley, Fenland District Council’s Bob Ollier, Tony Twitchett and Roy Claxton of Wisbech Arles Twinning Club, Magali Bruchou and Gaynor Claxton.

From left: Brian Massingham and Penny Stocks of Wisbech in Bloom, judges Darren Share and Jon Wheatley, Fenland District Council’s Bob Ollier, Tony Twitchett and Roy Claxton of Wisbech Arles Twinning Club, Magali Bruchou and Gaynor Claxton.

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Great art and the spirit of France came together when Wisbech pulled out all the stops to impress the judges from Britain in Bloom.

This year’s theme is Growing for Gold chosen to mark a double golden anniversary - 50 years of Britain in Bloom and 50 years of the town’s twinning link with Arles in the south of France.

Inspiration has come from the artist Vincent van Gogh, who produced some of his best work while living in Arles, and in particular from Sunflowers, his most famous painting.

A copy of the painting on an easel, complete with paintbrushes, stool and straw hat, formed the centrepiece of the Fantasy Garden in St Peter’s Church Gardens for the judges’ visit.

The display also features a copy of part of a second van Gogh painting. Both were painted specially for In Bloom by local artist Bob Ledger.

Artist Bob Ledger with his van Gogh copies. Artist Bob Ledger with his van Gogh copies.

Alongside is a second bed that includes about 100 sunflowers of several varieties.

Judges Darren Share and Jon Wheatley were greeted at St Peter’s by members of the Wisbech Arles Twinning Club, several sporting traditional Gallic berets. They included Roy Claxton, the club’s chairman, playing a medley of tunes on a piano accordion, and treasurer Tony Twitchett.

They were joined by Magali Bruchou from Arles, who had come over to Wisbech specially. She described the display as “beautiful – magnifique”.

Earlier the judges had visited Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House and Centenary Green, a garden done by volunteers at the Octavia View homeless hostel, a bee and butterfly garden at the entrance of Somers Road car park and a sensory garden by students at Wisbech Grammar School at St Peter’s.

Twinning club members Roy and Gaynor Claxton, Tony Twitchett and Magali Bruchou chat to judge Jon Wheatley and Wisbech in Bloom chairman Brian Massingham. Twinning club members Roy and Gaynor Claxton, Tony Twitchett and Magali Bruchou chat to judge Jon Wheatley and Wisbech in Bloom chairman Brian Massingham.

The four-hour visit also took in The Crescent, Wisbech General Cemetery, the herb garden at the Boathouse and Wisbech Park.

Members of Wisbech In Bloom are determined to go one better than last year when Wisbech was narrowly pipped at the post for the title of Britain’s best large town.

Brian Massingham, chairman of Wisbech in Bloom, said: “We got a silver gilt last year and were a bit disappointed by that. We feel we’ve done 50 per cent more this year and although we’re facing stiff competition we’re very confident. The community participation has been brilliant.”

Penny Stocks added: “We’ve definitely moved up this year. We’ve all worked very hard and hope we’ll get our reward.”

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