Part of a major article on Britain in Bloom in The Independent, based on comments made by Sir Roy Strong on BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme, September 2002.

'This is just chequebook gardening,' says resident

STEPHEN WOZNIAK has been at loggerheads with councillors since moving to Sidmouth five years ago. Affronted by his wild garden - the first sight to greet the Britain in Bloom judges - they threatened him with legal action a few years ago. It was in the words of John Govier, chairman of Sidmouth in Bloom, a dump.

"Some people really took offence," Dr Wozniak said yesterday. "There have been letters in the local newspapers saying I should leave town and go back to where I came from." In the past three decades, the Devon town has won almost 30 awards for its floral displays. In 2001, it won the national prize. This year the display included a floral peacock and a cart full of blooms.

However, "90 per cent of the displays in Britain in Bloom are those regimented, garish rows of hanging baskets," Dr Wozniak said. "You have to fight your way through town every year. All they are interested in is the final product for the judges. They are not interested in the earth, the ground, the species which inhabit the wild plants. They spend a huge amount of money on plants which have virtually no environmental benefit. This is chequebook gardening."

The scientist, whose garden grows unhindered (and admittedly includes a rather unsightly caravan) has dug his heels in and begun an anti-Britain in Bloom campaign.
"The amusing point is that the same council will congratulate itself on opening a nature reserve which has exactly the same things growing as my garden," he observed.

Examples of 'chequebook gardening' in Sidmouth and elsewhere will be shown below. The prime determinant of winning a Britain in Bloom prize is the amount of money (often public money) you are prepared to spend!

photos to be inserted 2008/9.

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