The riots and tough economic climate failed to crush the spirit of Britain in Bloom gardeners, who rallied to make the 2011 contest a success.

Cricklade in Bloom (credit: RHS)

Cricklade in Wiltshire was crowned 2011 Champion of Champions. Judges dishes out a record 20 gold medals, plus 36 silver-gilts, 19 silver and one bronze at a ceremony in Scotland, hosted by Rachel de Thame.

The event was attended by 500 community gardening champions. This year, over 200,000 UK volunteers put in 4.4 million hours of time to make the contest a success.

A team of 12 RHS judges, led by chairman Roger Burnett, toured the UK visiting 76 finalists – drawn from 1,000 participating communities.

They scrutinised displays against three key criteria: horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility.

Roger said: “We noticed that many communities are facing greater challenges than ever before because of financial conditions, political changes, civil unrest – and not even to mention the unpredictable British weather!

“We have seen many communities using RHS Britain in Bloom as a solution and pulling together as groups of volunteers and as communities, facing down everything from a tornado to damage from rioting.

“The finalists confronted challenges with determination and spirit, making their communities better places in which to live,” Roger added.

RHS director-general Sue Biggs said: “Britain in Bloom is fun, its healthy and it’s gorgeous to look at.

“It encourages wildlife and biodiversity and it does us all good. Where would Britain be without it? A far duller place, I can tell you.”

BRITAIN IN BLOOM WINNERS 2011

Champion of Champions – Cricklade, Wiltshire – gold

Small town – St Martin, Guernsey – gold

City – Stockton, Northumbria – gold

Small city – Derry City, Ulster – silver-gilt

Large city – Bristol, south west – gold

Large town – Glenrothes, Scotland – gold

Urban community – Uddingston, Glasgow – silver-gilt

Town – Rustington, south east – gold

Village – Luddenden, Yorkshire – gold

Large village – Broughshane, Ulster – gold

Small village – Loughgall, Ulster – silver-gilt

Coastal (up to 12k population) – Whitby, Yorkshire – gold

Coastal (over 12k population) – Cleethorpes – gold