THE cancellation of an annual contest to find the best gardens in Darlington caused disappointment to many earlier this month, but a new online competition could help the town bloom once again.

The Northern Echo has agreed to work with Darlington Borough Council to relaunch the Darlington in Bloom competition, using social media in the hope of reaching a wider audience.

The volunteers who have run the Darlington in Bloom contest, with support from the council, for a number of years were forced to cancel the event last month due to a low number of entries.

Instead of letting the event fold altogether, the council have decided to run a smaller competition where people submit photographs of their garden, which is then put up to a public vote on the council and Northern Echo Facebook pages.

The response to the new competition will help to guide the format for next year’s event, in the hope of making it stronger and more sustainable in the coming years.

The new competition has won the backing of Dennis Woodcock, a keen gardener who contacted The Northern Echo to express his disappointment at the cancellation of the previous event.

Speaking from his garden yesterday, he said: “I was disappointed when it was cancelled but I’m glad that the council has been so proactive in turning it around and I hope that more people will enter now it’s re-opened.”

There are five categories for entries: best back yard; best garden; best community garden; best business and best alternative garden, which includes window boxes or tubs and allotments.

Entries to the new competition open today – a picture, along with name, address and contact number and the category of the garden can be sent to

Anyone without internet access or a camera can contact the council on 01325-406055, who will arrange for someone to take one on your behalf on August 25.

The closing date is August 26. Photo galleries for each category will be put on the council and Northern Echo Facebook pages, with the garden receiving the most ‘likes’ by September 10 named the winner.

The winners will receive £25 of gardening vouchers.

Council leader Bill Dixon said: “By the very nature of social media we’re hoping that we can take the competition to a much wider audience and that more people will get involved. So many people take pride in where they live and we should all celebrate it.

“It would be great to see the whole community getting involved from allotment holders to businesses and community groups.”