After lots of stunning entries from young horticulturalists from across Mid and East Antrim, the winners and runners-up of the borough’s junior In Bloom awards have been announced.

Schools and young people have been planting, drawing, making and mending their way to green fingered success as part of this year’s competition.

The winner of the Blooming Creative Competition is 7 year old Abigail Best from Greenisland with her colourful drawing of a beautiful sunflower. Runner up is 4 year old Cameron Sheppard from Larne with her painting of beautiful blooms and Carson McDowell, 5, from Carrickfergus with his abstract painting of flowers.

Woodburn Primary School in Carrickfergus bagged the accolade of Best School Gardening Project this year. They created a new sensory garden and outdoor learning space at their new school build, which everyone can benefit from and enjoy.

Lavender and Rosemary were some of the herbs planted to create a wonderful smell as well as a haven for bees and insects. The garden has raised beds, a seating area, stones, wild flowers, bird box, bug hotel and wormery.

With the children just returning to school following lockdown, the school wanted to provide opportunities for them to be outside. The Year 7 pupils set to work and started by digging over the flowerbeds, filling them with compost, spreading bark chippings and then planting bedding plants, vegetables, fruit, some hedging and shrubs.

The two very worthy runners up this year are Carrickfergus Academy and St Anthony’s Nursery School in Larne. 

At Carrickfergus Academy, over 75 pupils helped build a peaceful, calming outside learning and recreation space for pupils and staff to experience the benefits of nature. Students gained valuable hard landscaping and planning skills in creating this garden and have already started to plant it out with flora designed to attract insects and animals.

In St Anthony’s Nursery School, children and staff, with the help from parents and grandparents, worked to completely revamp their outdoor play areas. They cleared and levelled the ground, creating space for bark, sand and gravel play areas.

A mud kitchen with tree trunk stools, table and big tubs for planting vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs now takes pride of place. They also created a new fairy garden trail and the children are enjoying hunting for fairies hiding among the foliage.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, said: “Well done to everyone who entered as the standard of entries was outstanding this year. We received some lovely paintings and drawings, especially from very young residents, and the decisions were difficult to make.

“Getting outside is so important, especially for our young people. It’s inspiring to see the true community effort being made from all those involved in the larger projects as well. I want to thank each an every volunteer who helped, and continues to help make Mid and East Antrim even more beautiful, whilst helping our wildlife in the process.

“I hope to see many more muddy wellies from our young people across the borough and can’t wait to see these projects grow and mature like the people who created them.”

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