The movement to keep British towns beautiful has been strong right across the UK. In the 1990s, the seaside town of North Berwick began its own project to protect and enhance the town's beauty, and so the North Berwick in Bloom movement was born.
North Berwick lies about 25 miles from Edinburgh, on the coast of the Firth of Forth. It's a popular holiday town, and the North Berwick in Bloom movement ensures that it is always a beautiful town to visit, a town that is proud of its appearance and feel.
In the spring and summer you get a real feel for what a small town in full bloom can look like. An obvious focal point are the Lodge Grounds. These were cultivated by the Dalrymple family from the 17th century, and since 1939 have been open as a public park. North Berwick in Bloom has, in part, been about rejuvenating the town, and the renovation of the Lodge Grounds, completed in 2008, is a testament to this success of everyone's efforts.
In some years the formal beds are sown with bulbs marking out a pattern, or series of words. Some years they are just beautifully, sumptuously sown, still glorious. Going in early spring, you can make out the year's plan before it bursts into bloom.
Along the perimeter path there are all kinds of daffodils, tagged with their kind. Daffodils come in many different varieties, but it is unusual to see some many in one small area, so clearly marked out.
Alongside a playpark for children, and great lawns to run across, the Lodge Grounds does have a series of more formal flower beds, a wildflower garden and a lavender garden. These contain a wide range of carefully labelled flowers.
As you walk along the street, general verges are carefully tended. Every town has its fair share of cracked kerbs and spoilt grass, but North Berwick makes up for it with some gorgeous roadside areas to compensate.
Spring is later up in Scotland than in England, being that much further north, so if you're travelling south to north, you have the joy of watching a continuous procession of blossoms unfurling. Being right on the sea means that North Berwick may sometimes be bruised by winds and rains, but perhaps avoids some of the harsher frosts of the inland regions, protecting the tender buds.
North Berwick has been designated a fair trade town. Achieving this status means working together as a community, and building local businesses and lives around fair trade principles and products.
The Royal Horticulturalists' Society 'Britain in Bloom' is the largest horticultural campaign in the UK. North Berwick is always a contender for being taken seriously in the competition. In 2015 it was a finalist, and features on the website with discussions about what local groups are doing to promote and maintain the area. This includes keeping the beaches clear of rubbish and seaweed - being a blooming town is about more than just the flowers. The Britain in Bloom campaign, which was run since 1963, recognises this need for an overall community effort, and in 2006, a sister campaign, the It's Your Neighbourhood Campaign was also introduced.
Long sandy beaches, views out to the Firth of Forth, the North Berwick Law, the Lodge Gardens and the Glen all combine to make North Berwick a glorious place for anyone to visit. The North Berwick in Bloom movement is the icing on the cake of this beautiful spot.