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An introduction to Kinnesswood in Bloom...

A blog post by Norma Smith

With Kinnesswood in Bloom recently announced as one of our four Scottish finalists at the upcoming RHS Britain in Bloom UK Finals, Norma from the group wrote this fantastic blog about their involvement in Beautiful Scotland.

Kinnesswood in Bloom has been taking part in various competitions for a number of years, from the local best village competition to Take a Pride in Perthshire and Beautiful Scotland. We were previously nominated to take part in the RHS Britain in Bloom UK Finals in 2009, and in their digital Community Awards in 2021 during the Covid pandemic.

We have been quite successful over the years, regularly winning the Best Village in Kinrossshire, many awards in the Perth and Kinross competition, and we were winners of our category and various discretionary awards in Beautiful Scotland. The elusive Gold was finally won a few years ago and we have managed to maintain that standard.

We maintain about eight community garden areas in the village and work on them in a rolling programme, mostly with Saturday work parties but more often in the summer and nightly the week before the judges are to arrive!

Each has a different focus involving the planting of heathers, lavender, shrubs, tubs, bedding plants and bulbs. The school has vegetables as well as a polytunnel and border areas. There is more emphasis these days on sustainable planting.

We also take great pride in the heritage of the village and have written a book about its history as well as commissioning three interpretation boards, a listening post and a piece of music called The Loan to the Hill. We work closely with the school pupils, and they have produced some excellent work over the years including a book about local poet Michael Bruce and a CD interviewing local folk. Some of us even made it on to the CD!

In 2022, the Beautiful Scotland optional theme was the Year of Stories, and our little figures were dressed as local characters including Mary Queen of Scots, a monk from St Serfs Island, and Alexander Buchan, a famous meteorologist.

Last year, the school had an environmental day, with the children welcoming parents and other villagers to the school playground. They had set up about eight stations showcasing their work, a pond, polytunnel, raised beds, willow, a mini orchard, rain garden and amphibian ladders. Kinnesswood in Bloom volunteers worked alongside the pupils. When the Beautiful Scotland judges came, we asked for volunteers to show the judges around, and the children were amazing, making sure they didn’t miss anything on their tour.

We have already used peat free compost in the school, and are gradually changing elsewhere in the village. This year we ordered a load of mushroom compost which is easy to use and works out very cheap.

Community participation is important in any project. We like to keep in touch by writing a monthly article in the Kinross newsletter, regular updates on our Facebook page and delivering a postcard every year to showcase our work and ask for financial support. We receive great support from villagers, both financially and in the comments on our Facebook page.

We hold monthly meetings to discuss future plans and keep our own members informed. Most of the year we have a Saturday work party which moves around the village to keep all the areas looking good. It’s important to have a variety of skills in the group: someone to keep on top of jobs needing done, someone to act as chair or treasurer or secretary, keeping the Facebook page up to date, finding funding and working with the school. These folk don’t have to be gardeners, just supportive of the group.

In October 2022, we finally received word of how well we had done in Beautiful Scotland. Kinnesswood was recognised with a Gold, was crowned best Small Village in Scotland, and won the discretionary award for working with children and young people. We were so pleased that all the hard work had paid off.

Not everyone wants to enter competitions, and there are now non-judged categories which take the pressure off but still give recognition to the groups. Well done to all the villages in Perth and Kinross who do so well to make this such a lovely area.

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