n Loss of flower beds damaging town n ‘Far cry’ from Bloom win years

HAWICK has “lost its bloom”, according to a local gardening expert who has launched an attack on the town’s deteriorating floral displays.

The grassing over of flower beds in Wilton Lodge Park and the loss of others around the town, as previously reported, has been strongly criticised by well-respected Hawick News gardening columnist Jake Coltman, who recalls a time when Hawick was “unbeatable” – and he says it’s time for action.

“Compared to what Hawick used to look like, it’s lost its bloom. It’s just not the same any more”, said Mr Coltman.

“Up the park used to have the ‘wow’ factor but there is a lot missing now. And the Walled Garden used to be a really spectacular attraction, but it’s just not what it used to be.”

Mr Coltman says the loss of flower beds in Weensland Road, Oliver Park, Allars Crescent and near the leisure centre is also having a damaging effect on the town.

And highlighting that it’s a far cry fom the days when Hawick won the medium town category 10 times in 12 years – including top town in Britain in Bloom in 1992, he commented: “We have even lost our hanging baskets on the street, compared to a few years ago.

“It’s a far cry from the boom years when Hawick was unbeatable and not just for our park, but the whole town.”

But a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council has confirmed that the decline in flower beds follows a decision to introduce a 50 per cent reduction in summer bedding provision in Hawick – as well as Peebles, Kelso, Melrose and Galashiels. “Over the last 10-15 years there has been a general reduction in staffing levels in Hawick, as in all other areas throughout the Borders,” said the spokesperson.

Mr Coltman says he understands cuts have been made, but in a plea to the council, urged: “There has to be money spent if the town’s appearance is to improve.”

This sentiment is shared by former parks boss Jock Thorburn, responsible for the park and walled garden for almost 20 years when it won 11 awards. “We used to do things like the train of flowers and Wizard of Oz display, which was labour intensive but well worth it”, he stated. “But we had a good team of seven and seemed to have the money. It’s sad to see things disappear.”