Published: 21 September 2012
The Tour of Britain at Dartmouth
Following up our Tour of Dartmouth, we were invited to see what the Dartmouth In Bloom team were up to in preparation for the arrival of the Tour of Britain.

Early morning in Dartmouth.
When we were last in Dartmouth it was a sizzling hot day in August and we were so taken with the floral displays that we felt that we had to include a feature about them in the Gardening
This time we were in the town at the kind invitation of the Dartmouth in Bloom group, to see what was being done to show Dartmouth at its very best for the end of the Devon stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race. Having watched the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish as they cycled through France earlier in the summer, we could not resist the opportunity to see them racing into Dartmouth.

We arrived the day before and were able to soak up the atmosphere in the town and there was a buzz of excitement amongst visitors and locals alike. There was a sense of pride that Dartmouth had been chosen to host the end of the stage, and preparations were well under way to make certain that everyone would have the best possible experience on the day of the race. 

The Dartmouth Community Greenhouse.

We arrived early on the morning of race day, and what a transformation. Hundreds of barriers were lining both sides of the route along the riverfront. Lorries filled the car park and the technical crew, in their fluorescent orange jackets were hard at work everywhere. We made our way to the Royal Avenue Gardens, where we were to meet the Dartmouth in Bloom team. They were ready to get to work on decorating the podium, but it was not quite ready for them, so we had time to speak to their press officer, Susan Thomson. She very kindly showed us the Community Greenhouse, where the flowers for the podium display had been grown. She told me that the green house is run by volunteers and as well as growing plants for the town, they also look after people’s plants for them if they are away from home. 


Creating the podium display.

The technicians make their preparations.


Dartmouth Bloomers

After viewing the greenhouse, we took some time to watch the preparations for the big event. It seemed that hundreds of people were involved, and they were all working very hard to get everything ready in time.

Back at the podium the Dartmouth ‘Bloomers’ were also watching the preparations as the sponsor’s logos were being attached to the structure. With a final polish, the stage was set, and the ‘Bloomers’ were given the go ahead to begin. Within moments, large containers filled with Fuchsias; Begonias; Geraniums and trailing variegated foliage, were being set out along the front of the stage. Two crab pots were also included in the decoration and they were being filled with Cyclamens of pinks and white and, with the help of the ever helpful technical crew they were fixed to the corners of the stage.

By the time the flowers were all in position, the crowds had grown and the area was bustling with hundreds of people, either hard at work, or enjoying the warmth of the mid September sunshine. Some of the summer flowers were over, but there were plenty of others taking their place and the Royal Avenue Gardens were still looking beautiful. 

50,000 People

It was then time for us to take a stroll along the riverfront to claim a good spot from which to watch the race. Although there were still over two hours until the racers were due to arrive there were thousands of people already waiting. An estimated 50,000 people were in Dartmouth on to see the race, many of them were from far afield and we heard accents from several other countries, as well as from different parts of the United Kingdom.
All of the work that the people of Dartmouth have put into the floral displays, not only for the Tour of Britain, but the work they do year in and year out has really paid off, and the pictures and television coverage of their town looking beautiful have been shown around the world.

The Gardening would like to thank the Mayor of Dartmouth, Councillor Paul Allen, and Susan Thomson for the warm welcome they gave us and we are delighted that the day went so well.

The cyclists arrive.

And The Winners Are...

Just as this article was preparing for publication it was announced that Dartmouth was the Gold Winner in their group for the South West in Bloom 2012, being awarded the coveted Ayre Cup. Congratulations!

The Bloomers take to the podium.
Reported by Liz Thompson  

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