Otley in BloomOIB_BIBloom_LOGO.jpg

Growing civic pride in Otley

Ellar Ghyll Recycling getting ready for summer

Posted by billa on May 27, 2017


Ellar Ghyll Recycling centre has started to plant-up for the summer. All the containers and the decorations are recycled from within the facility. Looking forward to see how the plants develop.


Otley to represent Yorkshire in Britain in Bloom

Posted by sstanwell on March 01, 2017

Since 2000 Otley in Bloom have been enhancing green spaces around Otley and coordinating our entry into the Yorkshire in Bloom competition.  For the last 3 years the town has been awarded Gold and Best in Category.

This continued success has caught the eye of the Britain in Bloom organisation and Otley has been invited to enter the prestigious competition joining the likes of Harrogate, Filey and Kippax who have all represented Yorkshire in the past.  Being chosen to enter the competition already marks us out as one of the best cared for communities in the country and the publicity from the competition will allow us to increase trade, tourism and wellbeing for residents.

Katie Burnett, Secretary of Otley in Bloom, said “It is a really special opportunity to showcase our fabulous town and build on the national recognition the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire have brought.  I’ve been involved with OIB since 2005 and firmly believe that attractive green spaces and floral displays have a positive impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing.”

Judges from the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom campaign will be assessing the town’s

  • Horticultural Achievement
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Community Participation

The Otley in Bloom team will coordinate the town’s competition entry by creating a route to take the judges on which shows some of the highlights of our green spaces.  David Bellerby, Competition Coordinator explained the benefits of the competition for Otley, “It has taken us 16 years to prove we have the right balance of horticultural projects to be worthy of a place in the Britain in Bloom competition, the feeling for us is that of a footballer chosen for the national squad for the first time.  We can expect great coverage in the national and local press, and we hope that lots of residents and businesses will support us this year in going the extra mile to make our town shine.  Having great green spaces is important in creating a sense of pride and community, helping people get enough physical exercise and supporting wildlife and biodiversity.  The floral displays in the town centre are important for the businesses in creating an atmosphere that draws potential customers into the town, encouraging them to linger and spend money that then gets recirculated around the local economy.”

Otley in Bloom’s campaign for Britain in Bloom glory starts here and your help is vital.

Get involved now….

  • Be part of our fundraising “Open Gardens” event on June 25th, either by opening your garden to visitors or spending a pleasant afternoon visiting Otley’s private gardens.
  • Join our team of volunteers – help with gardening, administration, litter picking, social media, and watering plants is needed.
  • Ensure that your premises at home and work look their best this summer and don’t forget to keep dead heading and watering as it is easy for summer displays to “go over” in a hot summer.

To get in touch, register your garden for the Open Gardens, or to come to our next meeting call Katie Burnett 01943 462390

The Otley Phlox

Posted by sstanwell on February 28, 2017

The Story of the Otley Phlox

Fred M. Simpson was born in 1879 to an Otley ironmonger, through his working life he was a plumber in Harrogate, a farmer in Canada, and then a poultry breeder in Otley.  His passion for horticulture only began in his 50s when ill health forced him into a most productive retirement.  He used his skills in cross breeding to breed new strains of Korean chrysanthemums, lupins, Michaelmas daisies, and finally in his 70s perennial phlox.

In 2014, Otley in Bloom heard about this pioneering horticulturalist and wanted to bring his plants back to Otley.  An ongoing search has so far not revealed any known examples of his chrysanthemums, lupins and Michaelmas daisies, but this year we will be planting in Wharfemeadows Park examples of five perennial phlox varieties bred by Fred M Simpson in the 1950s.

Mr Simpson bred the phlox to be more compact and bushy than other available varieties.  The guiding principle of his work is described as “a search for perfection, a discontent with things as they are, a feeling that however good a plant of his creation might be it could be made better.  ‘I’ve got a good thing here but I must try to improve it’ has been his personal motto.  And his criterion has been his personal sense of beauty, that subtle appreciation of colour and form which he shared with his artistic sisters – ‘If it doesn’t suit me out it goes out onto the muck heap’”*

*extract from West Riding Farming Personalities article from Otley Museum


Fred Simpson in 1955 on his 76th birthday showcasing Phlox “Lady Mowbray”

With grateful thanks to Otley Museum and Jane Britten.

The plants have been propagated by Courtyard Planters who have donated plants to Leeds City Council Parks in Otley and to the National Collection at Temple Newsam.  If you would like to purchase an Otley phlox, they are available from Courtyard Planters, with 50p from the sale of each plant coming to Otley in Bloom to support more horticultural projects.  www.courtyardplanters.co.uk


  Otley Choice



If you are able to report any known examples of other plants bred by Fred M Simpson, we would be delighted to hear from you.


Litter Heroes Wanted

Posted by sstanwell on February 28, 2017

Otley in Bloom members will be taking part in the national Great British Spring Clean to get half a million people out and about cleaning up their local communities in March 2017.

Friday 3rd March at 11am - The campaign will be launched by the Town Mayor Cllr Ian jackson and Keep Britain Tidy's Tidyman at the Maypole, Manchester Square, followed by a town centre litterpick and refreshments for volunteers at the Council's Orchard Gate offices at 1pm.

Saturday 4th March at 10am - Cllr Linda Hoare will lead another litter pick, starting at the Maypole in Manchester Square.

Sunday 5th March at 10am to 12noon - Cllr Ray Georgeson will lead a family session at Gallows Hill nature reserve - meet at the car park.

Volunteers are asked to email admin(at)otleytowncouncil.gov.uk or call into the Council's office in Orchard Gate to confirm they'd like to take part. Litter-pickers will be provided, but please bring your own gloves.  Only people pre-registering will be allowed to participate to control numbers and ensure health and safety.

Our snowdrops came up all over Otley

Posted by sstanwell on February 22, 2017

In autumn 2015 we planted thousands of snowdrops around Otley. We saw blooms all over town last February, and again this Spring there have been masses of flowers.  Here are some at the Whartons School.


Christmas Tree Festival

Posted by sstanwell on December 10, 2016


Otley in Bloom have decorated a Christmas tree with giant pompom bumblebees, to symbolise the importance of bee-friendly planting in our gardens, and because it was fun making them. The Christmas tree is on display as part of the Otley Christmas Tree Festival at Otley Parish Church on Saturday 10th Dec from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday 11th Dec from 11-4, for more information see otleychristmastreefestival.co.uk.




Weston Lane flowerbeds replanted

Posted by sstanwell on November 08, 2016


Otley in Bloom, the Woodcraft Folk, and Otley Labour Party are collaborating to renovate and replant the three flowerbeds in the grass verge at the junction of Weston Lane and Weston Drive.  The Woodcraft Folk have the left hand bed which they have planted with bulbs, and they will be planting wildlife-friendly flowers later.  Otley in Bloom have the centre bed, and the Labour party have the one on the right, which have been topped up with a large amount of compost, and planted with some perennials and bulbs.  They will also have wildlife-friendly flowers added later.  This was a big job, and lots of people turned up to help us, from the Labour party and locally, (thanks, everyone!), so we got the job done in a couple of hours, followed by a much-needed cuppa and a cake.  The original rose bushes are still there, they have been pruned which hopefully will encourage them to flower better.


Town marker stones repainted

Posted by sstanwell on November 08, 2016


We have cleaned up and weeded and trimmed around the gateway stones on Leeds Road and Pool Road, and repainted the lettering, so you can read the town name now.



Autumn planting

Posted by sstanwell on October 13, 2016


The flowers on the backs of the willow bike riders at the fire station have been renewed, and a few adjustments made to the bikes.


We also replanted the square wooden planters in Orchardgate behind the bus station for Autumn.

And Jacquie replanted the green bicycle outside the library too.

Otley wins Gold for the third year running

Posted by billa on September 15, 2016

For the third year running, Otley has been given a Gold award by Yorkshire in Bloom, and Category winner for being the best small town in the competition this year.

Our Competition Coordinator David Bellerby said

"We are proud and thrilled that our lovely town of Otley has been awarded Gold and Category Winner by Yorkshire in Bloom for the third consecutive year.  This is a great achievement for the town.  It is a tribute to all the hard work by Otley in Bloom members, individuals, organisations and businesses who have contributed to the colourful displays which have enhanced the town and helped to make Otley an attractive place in which to live, work and visit.  Thanks and congratulations to everyone for a great team effort in growing civic pride."

Jason Knowles of Otley Town council said

"Otley can certainly be proud of its floral displays and embracing the community spirit that is so important to the success of the ongoing campaign. With a dedicated chairman who has a passion for Otley and the Bloom campaign and a Leeds City Council parks department with years of experience in delivering high-quality horticultural displays, Otley is certainly now making its mark at the In Bloom competitions.  This is a fantastic and well deserved result for Otley’s In Bloom team, participating businesses, schools, community groups, Town Council, Otley BID and Leeds City Council Parks department and the many volunteers who have worked so hard not only this year but every year."



Nectar bed Plants for Pollinators

Posted by sstanwell on September 15, 2016

Since we planted the Nectar Bed in Wharfemeadows Park, we have lost some of the plants and added new ones.  It will continue to change and evolve as we see what does well and what doesn't, so it's impossible to give a list of what's there right now.  But if you want to know which garden plants are Perfect for Pollinators, attractive to bees, butterflies and hoverflies, see the RHS's list, at  www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/conservation-and-biodiversity/wildlife/rhs-perfect-for-pollinators-garden-plants.


Allotment tidying with tea and cake

Posted by sstanwell on August 15, 2016


Our allotment, where we save plants when they are no longer needed in planters, and grow them on to use again, was getting a bit disorganised and overgrown, so we tidied it up and gave the plants some fresh compost.  Also we tidied the shed and got rid of some unnecessary clutter.  And to celebrate getting all that done, and to give ourselves a Summer treat, and because it was nearly somebody's birthday, we had tea and cakes.