GALASHIELS and Newcastleton were scrutinised by Beautiful Scotland judges on Tuesday, writes Kenny Paterson.
The two Borders communities are up for national prizes, and hope to follow the lead of Melrose.
The Roxburghshire town won the large village section of the competition in 2011, resulting in a nomination for this year’s Britain in Bloom contest – its judging team is due to visit Melrose this Tuesday.
In total, 50 groups from across the country have entered Beautiful Scotland this year, with each scored on horticultural achievement, sustainable development and biodiversity initiatives.
Marks are also earned for promotion of community involvement, recycling and the absence of litter, dog fouling, graffiti, fly-posting and weeds.
The recently elected Galashiels Community Council chairman, Ian Purvis, praised the work carried out by groups in the town to improve the environment and recreational facilities, including Gala in Bloom, who lead the Beautiful Scotland campaign for the medium town section.
He also noted Netherdale’s new 3G arena and the hard work of the Waverley Tenants Organisation in securing Big Lottery Funding for a new children’s play area in Langlee.
And Mr Purvis congratulated the group of volunteers, led by Johnny Gray and Drew Tulley, who have been sprucing up the gardens in Old Gala House, after Scottish Borders Council cut back on its maintenance of floral displays.
Other areas to be tended to have been Gala Policies, Langlee Woods and the local waterways.
Newcastleton is up for the Beautiful Scotland small village title, having previously claimed the same section and the overall Best Village in Scotland crown two years ago.
Newcastleton Floral Group’s success meant Copshaw qualified for Britain in Bloom last year, where it picked up a silver gilt award.
Newcastleton and Galashiels will find out on September 11 whether their efforts have been successful.
Helen Darvill, environmental quality coordinator at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “We are thrilled that so many groups from across Scotland have entered this year, and hope that the judges are impressed during their visit.
“It is wonderful that we are able to acknowledge and reward the groups’ hard work, commitment, and dedication to improving their local areas for residents and visitors alike, by inviting them to attend the awards ceremony.”