Early groundwork already laid by plant-loving residents hoping to secure Richmond and Britain in Bloom success has been praised by Richmond Council.

Councillor Virginia Morris, the council’s cabinet member for environment and planning, said the efforts of local people would be key to any success and keeping gardens in good condition could make all the difference.

She added: “A real head of steam has been building in the run up to Britain in Bloom, thanks in part to the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

"We’re starting to see projects appearing all over the borough, which is very gratifying – we need as many examples of community action as possible to show the judges.

“All of our competitors will put up a good fight, so we have to make sure everything is looking perfect for the judges when they come in August."

The Britain in Bloom competition pits the country's best green boroughs against each other with this year's contest set to see Richmond compete against three northern cities and one Welsh team for the coveted award.

Bury, Stockton, York and Wrexham will be pulling out the stops to impress judges with their towns gardens and open spaces so the challenge for Richmond will be to make sure they are fully prepared for the judges' August visit.

Horticultural standards, environmental responsibility and community spirit will all be strictly judged and the winning results will be announced on September 25 by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Roger Burnett, chairman of the RHS Britain in Bloom judging panel, said: “Being a finalist identifies you as one of the best cared-for communities in the UK and presents a wonderful opportunity to promote your environment, past projects and future developments.

"We wish you all the very best of luck for 2011 and look forward to visiting your communities throughout the year.”