Blooming Britain

By Ben Felsenburg

Britain in Bloom (Monday, BBC2, 6.30pm) is an inspiring tour of the towns and
villages taking part in the annual competition run by the Royal Horticultural Society, which has been encouraging this riot of colour nationwide since 1963. Our guide is Chris Bavin, now a television presenter but once a flower trader, which is easy to imagine given his boisterous presence and booming hawker’s voice. He’ll
be visiting 15 communities over the course of the series, and begins in the charming small Monmouthshire town of Usk. Just across the Welsh border from England, this was once the setting for any number of battles, but in more recent times has been witness to victories of a purely floral variety – claiming an astonishing 35 consecutive gold medals from the RHS. But can they make it 36 on the trot this year?

Planning begins with an affable band of bloomers down the pub, and the three chosen sites are the town square, a primary school and a most unpromising concrete yard. But these green-fingered folk know exactly what they’re doing, and it’s a delight to see their designs bursting into horticultural life. Never mind all the doom- mongers who lament how things aren’t what they used to be – here’s a reassuring reminder that the nation at its best is still to be found if you know where to look.