GARDENERS in the region are once again celebrating their success after picking up some top prizes at the annual Britain in Bloom awards.

Durham, which has a long history of success in the competition, won its “small city” category, taking home a gold award.

The city, which has won gold on a number of occasions, was competing against Derry in Northern Ireland, Rochdale, in the North West and Shrewsbury, in Shropshire.

Judges from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), which runs the competition, were impressed with its creative floral displays, standout horticulture and community partnerships, including at the cathedral, city centre roundabouts and Wharton Park.

Meanwhile first time finalists Tanfield, in County Durham, won a silver gilt ward in the village category, with judges praising the community’s “infectious enthusiasm and passion” for the village.

Morpeth and Ponteland, both in Northumberland, also won gold awards.

Darren Share, chairman of the RHS Britain in Bloom judges, said: “This year’s finalists faced the most challenging conditions the competition has ever seen with much of the country under snow and ice at the start of spring followed by the joint-hottest summer on record.”

He added: “That so many groups have walked away with top medals is remarkable and a reflection of communities’ hard work, ingenuity and horticultural know-how.”

The Northumbria-region finalists collected their awards from Chris Bavin, presenter of BBC Two’s Britain in Bloom TV series, who was guest speaker at the awards ceremony.