Fringe Box



Carefully Tending the Borough’s Summer Bedding

Published on: 22 May, 2012
Updated on: 25 May, 2012

Guildford Borough Council's horticultural department team leader Kevin Street in a glasshouse full of hanging baskets.

Summer bedding for Guildford borough’s hanging baskets and planters are being carefully nurtured inside the council’s glasshouses at Stoke Park.

It’s a busy time for the staff there as they prepare the tender young plants using plenty of eco-friendly horticultural techniques.

The bedding plants arrived from a grower in West Sussex about six weeks ago. Currently, there are more than 300 hanging baskets planted up that will soon be taken to locations around the borough.

But these are not your normal wire hanging baskets. They are made of tough plastic with a special lining and filled with a peat-free compost. The base of the basket has a reservoir into which water (with a liquid feed) is added. The plants are therefore watered from underneath and not above. It means there is no wastage as there might be if the water was added from above and then overflowed down the side of the baskets.

Watering is another consideration that the staff at Stoke Park nurseries are very conscious about. Around the glasshouses are a number of black plastic waterbutts. In fact, they have been recycled. Their original use was to transport fruit juice concentrate.

Waterbutts which collect rainwater from the roofs of the glasshouses.

Rainwater that falls on the glasshouses is collected in these waterbutts and then pumped into a large tank. The water is used to water the young bedding plants and also to fill the mobile tanker that is driven around the borough watering the hanging baskets and containers once they have been placed out.

If all the rainwater should be used up, extra water can be drawn from the boating pond in Stoke Park. It’s unlikely that any mains water will be used at all.

Some of the planters that will soon be placed around the borough.

Work on the design of the plantings in the hanging baskets started months ago. Not surprisingly, this year lots of reds, whites and blues will feature strongly to fit in with celebrations for the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games. Further designs this year will feature yellow and orange blooms.

The young plants were actually ordered from the grower back in December.

Kevin Street with one of the clever hanging baskets.

Guildford Borough Council makes compost from nearly all its prunings and cuttings from its shrubs and bushes. These are chipped and used as mulch around its flower beds. This also cuts down on the need to water during dry spells.

In the past the borough grew all its bedding from seed. As the young plants are now brought in and looked after under glass for a much shorter time, heating costs are reduced.

Some of the tall ornamental cannas are potted up and over wintered under glass, while remaining space is used to store the empty hanging baskets and planters.

It’s a very neat system that allows for plenty of stunning summer floral displays across the borough.

Look out for some colourful displays this summer that will reflect the events going on.

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