Celebrating the history of Falkland, Fife

Our new book, Falkland and its People, 1901–1913 is now available to order.

Falkland in Bloom

A history of Falkland in Bloom (now Falkland Gardening Group), contributed by its former Secretary, Bert Allan. For the Falkland Gardening Group today, see its new website.

Falkland in Bloom 1987–2012

After celebrating having been in existence for twenty five years in 2012, it seems important that some kind of historical record is made since no others exist to give details of Falkland in Bloom’s activities over that period.

The formation of the group was the idea of Keith Jackson serving as a police officer at that time. Following a public meeting in 1987, the Falkland in Bloom Society was formed with a remit of improving the environment mainly through the use of flowers. The early days of the Society were hampered through a lack of funding but sterling efforts by the community soon raised sufficient funds for a number of tubs to be sited throughout the village in the early summer of 1988. As the years passed these tubs were augmented by bigger containers, over a hundred hanging baskets and five farm carts showing the link with Fife’s agricultural past, all colourfully planted out with Spring and Summer bedding in an attempt to make an already attractive village even more visually appealing.

As the group grew in number, Fife Council introduced an element of competition for communities judged by size and Falkland did well annually and although always considered a village, was awarded the title of Best Small Town in N.E. Fife over several years. Soon it was decided that the village should compete on a larger stage with an entry at a national level in the Scotland in Bloom campaign. Although always winning through to the final stages of these campaigns, competition at village level was fierce and for a time it was a matter of “often the bridesmaid but never the bride” as the community was denied by well-established Bloom groups like Comrie.

However, a turning point was reached in 2001 with the purchase of a polytunnel, first dismantled near Dunshalt and then re-assembled at a central location at Sugar Acre adjoining the village car park. The site, owned by local laird, Ninian Crichton Stuart, was to be shared with Fife Environment Access Trust, a charitable group providing work for folk recovering from illness. Although FEAT moved to other premises a few years later, Sugar Acre became the base for Fife Air Cadets Conservation Group, a youth group which undertook all kinds of projects both locally and further afield.

Establishment at Sugar Acre coincided with the arrival of Bob and Jean Maxwell who had spent a working lifetime in farming and had a wealth of experience in horticulture as they took up residence in the village. Annual plants had previously been raised in a number of locations in the village, simply wherever greenhouse space could be found but this could now be done centrally.

In the years that followed until Bob’s death in 2009, he and his wife took on the work of raising all the plants, some 50,000 in one season, after a second polytunnel was added at Sugar Acre. Some annual plants were germinated from seed but more were bought in as seedlings and nurtured until the danger of frost had passed before they became part of the colourful displays in window boxes, containers and baskets throughout the village.

Once drawn down the route of competition, each successive year needed huge efforts to maintain or improve standards and ensure the criteria expected by judges were met. Committee members around this time numbered around 16 and the efforts made helped an attractive village become even more appealing through their efforts.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that a community once best known for its historic palace was adding to its appeal to the hundreds of tourists and visitors through its colourful summer displays each year. Work began in April and once the village had been planted out after frost was no longer a danger, daily watering and feeding of the displays became a necessity. At this stage a specially modified tractor was acquired to carry a water reservoir and a two man team to carry out these duties from early June until the end of September.