The flowers had been pruned, borders primed and grass cut as horticultural D-day arrived.
After months of preparations, committee members could only hope and pray that their efforts came up to scratch as the expert eye of the Anglia in Bloom judges set about scouring for examples of gardening excellence and glimpses of anything that was out of place.
In Sudbury, the judges were greeted at Belle Vue on Thursday and treated to a display of tricks and flicks by 20-year-old Ryan McLeish, chairman of the town’s BMX committee, before getting down to business.
“Sudbury really is looking extremely good,” said Nick Irwin, chairman of the Sudbury in Bloom committee.
“For the first time in many years, I am very happy with how it looks and everyone has worked very hard.”
Mr Irwin said he was hopeful the diverse nature of the town’s entry – judges visited the biodiversity trail and viewed edible planting at the Kingfisher Leisure Centre – would help.
“Everyone has taken a lot of care and we hope the standard is kept up for the whole year,” he said.
As lead judge Hazel Law and fellow inspector Julie Rackone were whisked around the town, there were positive signs Sudbury could once again follow its silver gilt of 12 months ago.
“I absolutely love coming here,” said Mrs Law. “It is so good to see the lovely work that has gone on and it is important to remember that this competition is not all about hanging baskets.
“It is about conserving the local area and sustainability. We want to see community involvement and people making a difference.”
Mrs Law added that Sudbury had similarities to Halstead, which last year won a gold award and was named best town.
“The community here is just as good as Halstead, but we will have to see what else is in store,” she said.
On Monday, the judges were in Halstead, with the town looking to pull out all the stops once again.
“We had a few surprises with the judges being taken around on golf buggies on the river walk and a Darlek flower bed,” said Julia Smith, who helped found the town’s in bloom committee in 1999.”
The results will be announced in September.
It took Halstead four years to win its first award – a silver – after being formed in 1999.
A succession of silver gilts followed until the gold was finally achieved in 2009.
Having won the best town category for Britain in Bloom, Halstead has been entered in the Champion of Champions contest. The town will face four others, including York, and be judged on August 1.