THE first Boats in Bloom awards has been launched as part of National Gardening Week.

The awards are a way of saying thank you to the several people who bring the waterways to life with plants and flowers.

Certificates will be handed out in May till the end of summer to anyone whose boat or waterside planting is putting a smile on the face of passersby. People are encouraged to share photos of the boats and waterways on the Canal and River Trust online gallery.

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager for the Canal and River Trust said: "Take a walk along any towpath and you’ll be likely to come across a boat or a garden that lifts your spirits with its beautiful blooms. With Boats in Bloom we’re saying thank you to all these gardeners who bring so much pleasure to other people.”

There will also be special prize categories where people can nominate themselves or others. The shortlist of these nominations will be published on the Canal and River Trust website where the public can vote on who should win the special categories.

Matthew added: “We’d love to see how boaters and waterside gardeners are transforming the space around them. If you have a favourite boat or towpath garden, or are especially proud of your own, please let us know. We want Boats in Bloom to raise a smile, give people ideas and maybe inspire them to try a spot of gardening, or boating, themselves."

Anyone wishing to nominate themselves or someone else should visit where they can also vote in the special prize categories later in the summer.