York's famous daffodil display will be long gone by the time the judges of the Britain in Bloom competition come to the city in August.

The Lord Mayor of York, Coun Derek Smallwood, with residents and some of those involved in the new garden project. Picture by Mike Tipping

So the challenge is on for shopkeepers, business managers, and residents to do their bit to create an exceptional floral scene good enough to convince the judges that York's effort deserves the title of best city in the country.

Last year's success in the Yorkshire in Bloom competition, which saw the city fending off competition from established winners like Wetherby and Leeds, means that this year York has the responsibility of representing the region in the national finals.

Diana Dixon, Coppergate Centre manager, has devised a special route round the city to show it off in its best light to the team of judges who will take three hours to inspect the city in five months' time.

She said: "We have designed a route which takes the judges around the city showing them the best examples of what they want to see and making sure they don't go anywhere near the bad examples."

She said she and a team of council representatives had been through the criteria of the contest with a fine tooth-comb in order to produce a winning entry.

Diana said: "There are so many hoops to jump through to be successful in this competition.

She is inviting people to take advantage of the discounted hanging baskets offer which is detailed in a leaflet to be distributed to various locations around the city.

The city will be judged on its floral displays, parks and residential gardens, permanent trees and shrubs and air pollution and public awareness of what needs to be done to improve the environment.

The Evening Press Proud to be York campaign is a prime example of good ways public awareness can be raised, said Ms Dixon.

For more information about the competition or for a leaflet on the discounted hanging baskets offer, contact Diana Dixon, telephone York 627160.

Judging will take place between August 9 and 20, with the awards ceremony in Harrogate on October 6.

If the city wins Britain in Bloom, it could be nominated to represent Britain in next year's Entente Florale competition, where it would be up against some of Europe's most colourful cities.

Community garden to be haven for wildlife

The Lord Mayor of York, Coun Derek Smallwood, and the Lady Mayoress, Marion Smallword, turned their hands to a spot of gardening as a special garden opened to the community.

The civic couple took hold of their wheelbarrow to put the finishing touches to the creation in Barfield Road, Muncaster.

Their efforts marked the end of three years of work by conservation group Wildlife Links designed to include local residents and visitors in conservation work in the area. The garden is being developed to provide a wildlife haven.

Wildlife Links officer Kim Blavins said: "The project has improved the area for wildlife as well as making it a nicer place to live."

The group, with the support of the York Park Rangers who provided manpower, advice and tools, hopes to continue its work in other parts of York, with a similar scheme planned for Acomb during next year.

The Lord Mayor joined other local people in completing the garden by laying woodchips on to the planted area as a cover to beat weeds.

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