Annual Winnipeg in Bloom contest

Like a garden after a much needed rain, the Winnipeg in Bloom Contest has experienced rapid growth in its popularity. 

Years ago, the Winnipeg Real Estate Board (the WinnipegREALTORS® Association) established a residential garden contest based on a very successful contest run by the real estate board in Victoria, B.C., which was based on an assessment of the entire property — front and back. It is a terrific contest that has gone national in scope. 

While back yard reviews are no longer part of the local contest, this in no way should discourage property owners from making their private back yard spaces a pleasant and passive sanctuary.

When back yards were being judged in the past, a large property close to Assiniboine Park was referred to as the “wedding yard” due to its ample size and well-appointed landscaping. It just so happened that while the judges were making their way to the back yard one Friday afternoon, a pleasing aroma wafted in the air — the result of some prime grade-A steak being grilled on a barbecue. 

“Are we just in time for dinner?” one judge quipped.  

The disruption of his sanctuary by  the judges caught the homeowner off guard. 

“Maybe a refreshment,” the homeowner replied. “But the steaks are already spoken for.”

This opportunity to unceremoniously surprise homeowners in their private sanctuaries is one reason back yards are no longer part of the contest. The other is that back yards are often fenced in and not readily seen from  front streets — easy public viewing and curb appeal is emphasized in the contest.

The free contest, started by REALTORS® in Winnipeg, is now administered by  Take Pride Winnipeg which has established new categories to encourage beautifying city yards.

This year marks the 10th year of the Winnipeg in Bloom Contest (aka Flower Power). The Home Depot is the title sponsor, while Lee Valley Tools, Barkman Concrete, Winnipeg Free Press, WinnipegREALTORS®, Starbucks Coffee, City Press Ltd, City of Winnipeg and Rainbow Stage are gold sponsors.

Approximately 500 participants enter the contest each year, which helps Winnipeg to participate in the national Communities in Bloom Contest. Winnipeg won this contest in 1995, 2001 and 2005. 

There are seven categories: residential property, business national chain, business independent, apartment blocks and condominiums, community effort, business improvement zone, and previous winner residential (first place winners in each area for 2005 and 2006 are placed in this category). 

The contest is open to front yard properties only within the city of 

Winnipeg’s municipal boundaries. 

This means St. Norbert properties 

may enter, but East St. Paul and West 

St. Paul cannot, and back yards are 


 The Schools in Bloom program is on hiatus for 2007, but will return in 2008.

In addition, there are two special WinnipegREALTORS® categories. REALTORS® will nominate special residential properties for the  Curb Appeal Award. As well, all business properties entered in the regular contest will be eligible to win a WinnipegREALTORS® Commercial Division Best Blooming Business Award.

This year, the national Communities in Bloom network has introduced a nation-wide residential in-ground and container garden contest. Based on entries received, the Winnipeg in Bloom committee may choose one residential property to be entered from Winnipeg into the national contest.

Businesses often face challenges with frontage and lack of space to garden. Now they can be creative. Create a mini-garden with hanging baskets or window boxes. Create a mobile planter by planting flowers in the basket of a child's bicycle or in a wheelbarrow, which can be taken indoors after business hours. Think of a planting theme which will suit the nature of your 

business — such as your logo.

The community effort category 

includes parks, community centres, churches, as well as a community effort within a residential street. If four or more houses in a row on a street collaborate on a gardening project, they can enter their group as a community effort, as well as enter each house individually in the residential property category.

Any residential property that won first place in their area (residential category is divided into 14 areas) in the past two years will be placed into the previous winner category if they choose to enter this year. We do this out of fairness to the other properties in their areas, to allow  more winners in each area, and give them a chance to shine. These previous winners across the entire city will compete against each other for a special prize.

If you are a balcony gardener, encourage others in your apartment block to participate and enter your block in the apartment block/condominium category.

Winnipeggers can now plant on  boulevards, but check with the city  for details on the bylaw and if any construction work is planned on your boulevard this year.

You may enter yourself or nominate a deserving neighbour. Entries will be accepted until July 13, with judging from July 13 to 31. Judges will base their decision on overall curb appeal, innovative features and property cleanliness. The judging teams (groups of two) are all volunteers, and may include local horticulturalists and designers, REALTORS®, sponsors, committee members and past participants.

Winnipeg is divided into a number of judging areas, and each area will have a winner, with residential areas having first-, second- and third-place winners. 

Once a property has been judged, invitations to the awards ceremony at Rainbow Stage will be dropped off for property owners. 

At the awards ceremony, contestants will be able to view a visual presentation of all entries, discover the winning properties (kept secret until the awards ceremony) and are eligible for door prizes. 

For those interested in touring the properties, a list of entries (addresses only, not names) will be available on Take Pride Winnipeg’s website by July 19. A list of the winning properties will be available on August 20. 

Viewing other properties may also inspire new ideas for your own property.

Questions about the contest can be directed to Colleen Kurlowich, manager of programs and operations for Take Pride Winnipeg  and chair of the Winnipeg in Bloom committee. E-mail to  

Enter the contest by filling out an entry card at any Winnipeg location of The Home Depot or Lee Valley Tools, or enter on-line at