Last week, local volunteers’ dedication culminated as Wales in Bloom judges visited Abergavenny. Community groups across the town have been tirelessly preparing for the competition.

The Chronicle have been keeping up to date with some of the local volunteers who have been involved.

Amongst these dedicated groups is Friends of Bailey Park, who - in the past few weeks - have had to overcome external difficulties, including careless vandal.

The past week or so was a frenzy of activity in Bailey Park, as trays of Cosmos, kindly donated by Monmouthshire County Council found homes along borders, Dahlias and Scabious, loved by bees, were planted in the Sunken Garden, and final touches were made in the Sensory Garden planters to add more interest, with pungent herbs.

This is only a small peek into the stunning scene, volunteers have created in Bailey Park.

Over the Rose hedge boundary, volunteers from Morgan Sindall, based at the new King Henry 3-19 School, frantically cleared another area by the longer wall, rapidly followed by Danielle Farrington - the in-house artist - who within hours had completed a beautiful black and red spotty moth, adding to her spectacular array of murals.

The vandalised Nature isn’t Neat board was replaced, the grass was beautifully cut, and Marigolds eaten by greedy slugs had been replenished.

Flowers Aber in Bloom
Judges were met with a colourful sight at Bailey Park (Friends of Bailey Park). (Picture: supplied)
Flowers in Bailey Park
Volunteers have been working hard over the last few weeks to make the town look its very best (Friends of Bailey Park). (Friends of Bailey Park )

The Friends of Bailey Park had a very long wait to meet Peter Barton-Price, the Wales in Bloom judge, as he is a man who loves to take his time, and to look at every detail.

He was entranced by the Sensory Garden with its four planters, and the Sunken Garden with its vast array of pollinator friendly hardy perennials. There were even bees buzzing in the glorious clumps of lavender.

The Bank with its three beds stuffed with yellow, to represent Friendship, this year’s RHS theme, was another highlight, and the final stop was at the beautiful  and frequently admired Rockery opposite Morrison’s, which was planted mainly with donated hardly perennials to fill a void after a number of old conifers were felled.

Flowers in Bailey Park
The judges were very impressed by the evident dedication (Friends of Bailey Park). (Picture supplied)

A spokesperson from Friends of Bailey Park commented: ”After weeks of frustration caused by difficult weather conditions, theft and vandalism, then an unexpectedly early visit by the judge, we were stunned to be told that our little park area was the best Peter had ever visited in his forty years working as a “Parkie,” and owning his own Nursery.

“Thank you to everyone who helped us achieve this heady level of success. The Volunteers are completely overwhelmed, but now it is time to have a well- earned winding down until we begin again in earnest in the early Autumn.”

Not too far away from Bailey Park, Abergavenny/Y Fenni Women's Institute (WI) have been maintaining the historic Abergavenny Railway Station.

Aber in Bloom
Julie checking the litter-free planters and platform (Abergavenny/ Y Fenni WI). (Picture supplied)

Opened in 1854, the Grade II listed station was designed by Charles Liddell and became part of the Great Western Railway. A pivotal employer in the town, Abergavenny evolved into a railway hub by 1862, with a line transporting coal from the Midlands to the North of England. The railway's significance is still evident in the numerous railway houses on Chapel Road, Union Road, and Stanhope Street.

Aber in Bloom
WI member, Melanie, cheerfully caring for the plants (Abergavenny/ Y Fenni WI). (Picture: supplied)

In 2022, Transport for Wales, through its Heritage Lottery Funded 'Green Routes' project, installed eight planters at the station to create green spaces and enhance biodiversity. The Abergavenny WI has been instrumental in caring for these planters, part of the initiative to improve environments near railway stations across Wales and support community well-being by engaging people with nature.

The wooden planters, crafted by Norman Industries in Haverfordwest, are filled with pollinator-friendly and drought-tolerant plants sourced from Abergavenny Garden Centre. The plants, including Cordyline, Helenium, and Echinacea, provide vibrant floral displays from spring through autumn.

Aber in Bloom
Jean supervising the work force (Abergavenny/ Y Fenni WI). (Picture: supplied)

Three Abergavenny/Y Fenni WI members have regularly maintained the planters since 2022 as part of the Transport for Wales Station Adoption Scheme, overseen by Community Rail Manager Geraint Morgan. Their efforts will continue during the construction of the Beacon Bridge, scheduled for completion in 2025. Further to this, Transport for Wales plans to install a plaque at the station to honour the WI's contributions.

Following the judging, a spokesperson from Abergavenny/ Y Fenni WI, commented: “The judging of the Railway Station planters went really well! The display window in town featured Abergavenny (Monmouth Road) Railway Station memorabilia thanks to Stan Brown.

“We are hopeful of the final result, which will be issued in September.”

Aber in bloom
Members of Abergavenny/ Y Fenni WI have been working hard ahead of the judging (Abergavenny/ Y Fenni WI). (Picture: supplied)

Abergavenny Town Council praised volunteers from all groups: the Laurie Jones Community Orchard, Friends of Castle Meadows, Linda Vista Gardens, and Bailey Park, Keep Abergavenny Tidy, and the Civic Society, but also members from across the independent business community, as well as support from Monmouthshire County Council’s Grounds Team at Llanfoist, working alongside the Town Team. 

A spokesperson commented: “Councillors and staff have been assisting volunteers with litter picks, weeding, and painting of bollards and signposts, all to help Abergavenny look its very best.  We worked with the Gwent Green Grid Partnership to establish the biggest mural project to date in Bailey Park depicting local pollinators, and we are forever indebted to the volunteer stone masons who pulled out all the stops to repoint and repair the bus station raised stone beds in time for this year’s judging.

Laurie Jones Community Orchard was another site on town that has been carefully tended for ahead of judging ( Laurie Jones Community Orchard core group) (Picture: supplied)
 Laurie Jones Community Orchard core group
Laurie Jones Community Orchard was a stunning display thanks to volunteers (Laurie Jones Community Orchard core group). (Facebook)

“We would like to thank the 12 ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ entries that have taken time to submit their patches for assessment by the judge, and wish all of them the very best in continuing to achieve the high standards set at last year’s awards. Special mention to Our Lady and St Michaels RC Primary School who have also entered the school category, hoping to maintain and improve upon their 2nd place this year. And we can’t forget to thank Kenny on Merthyr Road for agreeing to put forward his front garden to be submitted for consideration for an award in this year’s competition!

“Without this continued support from across the whole town, we would never be able to continue to achieve the Gold standard, and we hope that this year, everyone who is part of this year’s entry, will be recognised for their significant efforts at the awards on Friday 13th September 2024 when Wales in Bloom comes to Abergavenny for the 2024 Award Ceremony.  We at Abergavenny Town Council are humbled and honoured to work alongside such a passionate and committed community who take such pride in their town and surroundings, and it is a pleasure to showcase all of this as we continue to participate in Wales in Bloom.”