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Islington in Bloom

Islington in Bloom is your local horticultural competition run by Islington Gardeners and Islington Council.

The 2022 competition is now open for entries until Monday 4 July – read on to find out how you can get involved. 

Islington is one of London’s most densely populated boroughs with the least amount of green space – so we need to make the most of every available space. We want Islington to be cleaner, greener, and healthier, and our gardening competition is a great way for us to reimagine our shared spaces together and make this happen. Gardening has many benefits for people and the environment:  

  • It raises our spirits by making our shared spaces more beautiful.
  • It makes Islington more attractive to pollinators and other wildlife. 
  • It supports biodiversity and helps protect our environment.
  • It brings people together and is great for health and wellbeing.
  • It’s fun! 

 It doesn’t matter whether you’re an expert gardener or a new budding enthusiast – all entries are welcome. Garry McQuinn, Best Front Garden winner 2021, told us in this IslingtonLife blog post: “If you’re vaguely thinking about getting into gardening and you’re not sure if you’re any good at it, the way I was, then I would say ‘go for it’, because plants want to grow – they just do and sometimes you can’t stop them! It’s also inspiring to see something flower, sometimes overnight. I would recommend it highly.” 

There are also fantastic prizes to be won: 

  • All entrants receive a voucher for a free bag of compost from Camden Garden Centre.
  • The first, second and third place in each category receive a National Garden Gift Voucher.
  •  Everyone receives an award certificate.  

If you want to do more after entering Islington in Bloom, you can also apply for funding to create or improve a green space in your local area as part of our new Islington Greener Together programme, and become an Islington Greener Together Champion to receive support and training to make the most of the new green spaces. Find out more about the Islington Greener Together programme [currently closed]

Find out more about this year's Islington in Bloom competition below:

What are the categories?

There are lots of categories to enter – whether you’re keen to transform your front garden, your window sill, or a community garden in your local park. You can enter as an individual, a community group, or – in the Best Blooming Business category – even as a business.  

The categories for 2022 are: 

  • Best Front Garden (with the majority of plants grown in the ground) 
  • Best Container Garden (with the majority of plants grown in containers) 
  • Best Children's Planting (category for schools, children's centres, and projects led by children) 
  • Best Window Box 
  • Best Blooming Business 
  • Best Parks Community Gardening (category for groups gardening in parks) 
  • Best Housing Community Gardening (category for estate gardening groups, community centres, and residential care homes) 
  • Best Community Garden (independent gardens managed by community organisations which do not fall into either of the two previous categories) 
  • Best Edible Garden (food growing) 
  • Best Tree Pit 

There is also a children's poster competition, which is only open to schools in Islington. If you work at a school, keep an eye out for further information or contact us on to find out more.

How can I enter?

It’s easy to get involved – simply email the following to by Monday 4 July 2022

  • Two photos of your entry 
  • Your name 
  • Your address 
  • Your email address 
  • Your phone number

What are your tips for taking great photos of my entry?

Before you start, wipe your camera lens with a lint-free cloth such as a glasses cloth. Activate HDR or high-resolution mode on your camera app (if applicable).

To help ensure our judges can really see the best of your garden or site, take your photos from two different angles and make sure you photograph your entire garden, rather than just individual plants. Often landscape format will help you capture more of your garden than portrait format.

Try to be mindful of the lighting – it’s generally not a good idea to directly face the sun when taking photos. Taking photos on a cloudier day can help prevent awkward shadows. 

If you are submitting a window box, take the photo from the street rather than from inside your home, as this is where the judges and passers-by will look at it from.

How does the judging process work?

After the competition closes, our judges (who are volunteers from the local community and council staff) will review all entries. They will then give you a percentage, based on which you will receive one of the following awards: 

Gold (85% and over) 
Silver Gilt (75-84%) 
Silver (60-74%) 
Bronze (50-59%) 
Certificate of Merit (0-49%) 
There are also first, second, and third places for each category.

In order to be consistent, judges score each entry against set criteria along the lines listed below. 

What will the judges be looking for?

In the past, gardening competitions were all about colourful hanging baskets and neatly trimmed lawns. This year we want to go further, so we have made some changes to the guidelines that will help you make a positive impact on biodiversity in our borough. 

Here are a few things to think about when planning your entry for Islington in Bloom:  

  • Is your planting sustainable, with plants that can tolerate drier conditions and perennial plants instead of annual bedding plants? Are you collecting rain water and using mulch to suppress weeds and retain water? Have you used any recycled or upcycled materials? 
  • Is it a good place for wildlife? Are there plants that provide food sources for birds, bees and other pollinators? Is there a small wild area for habitat? Is there a bird box or feeder, bug hotel, log pile, or small pond or water feature? 
  • Is it attractive? Is there a good mixture of plants? Are there different textures, colours and shapes of leaves? Do you have plants that will provide interest all year round – evergreen shrubs, climbers or trees? 
  • Is it well-tended, pruned, watered, and looking healthy? Is the planting suitable and does it work well in its location? 
  • Does it include herbs, fruit, or vegetables? 

When will I find out the results?

Results will be announced in September.

What is the Islington in Bloom children’s poster competition? (only open to schools)

The Islington in Bloom children's poster competition is back! We are inviting children to create a poster for the 2023 edition of the Islington in Bloom gardening competition. Entries should be submitted by Monday 4 July 2022. Please note that this competition is only open to schools. 

The winning design will be incorporated into next year’s posters and leaflets. We are looking for a design which will encourage Islington’s residents, schools, young people’s centres, community groups and businesses to make their borough greener, brighter and more wildlife-friendly!

The competition is open to children of all ages and will be judged in the following age categories: 

  • Infants (5 years and under)
  • Primary (6 – 10 years)
  • Secondary (11 – 15 years)

The winners of each category will receive prizes sponsored by Cass Art Islington and a personalised certificate. The overall winner will receive a £50 Cass Art voucher.

To enter, email the following to

  • The name of your school or young people's centre, its address and postcode; your name, position, phone number and email address; and an alternative contact name. 
  • The poster design(s). All documents should be in JPEG or PDF format, and each poster file should be named with the participant’s name, age and school (for example, ‘John Doe, 7 years, sample school’). 

For further information, please contact us on

A great poster will:

  • include the words ‘Islington in Bloom 2023’ (tip: keep the text in the centre of the design)
  • be in a portrait format and feature content which fits the In Bloom theme, such as flowers, trees, fruit and vegetables, gardening, pots, tools, homes, people, birds, insects and other wildlife
  • be bright, bold and colourful
  • include the child’s name, age and school or young people’s centre in the file name.

How can I stay up to date?

To stay up to date, and for gardening tips and fun facts, follow our Instagram account @islingtoninbloom. Here you can also be inspired by the creations of some of last year’s winners. You can also share your work and help us promote the competition by using the hashtags #IslingtonBlooms and #IslingtonInBloom on Twitter and Instagram. 

We will inform entrants of the results by email.

Thank you to our generous sponsors

Islington in Bloom would not be possible without the competition’s sponsors, so we would like to extend a warm thank you to:

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  1. Data protection: We will handle your personal information in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 and in accordance with the council’s Fair Processing Notice.

A man with a hat standing in his front garden, holding a pot with yellow flowers. He is looking at the camera and smiling. At the bottom there is a colourful bar saying 'Islington in Bloom' and 'Islington Together for a greener future'.