Councils slash bedding to reduce costs and improve sustainability

Bedding planting in London has fallen by an average of 30-50 per cent in the past decade as councils seek to cut their environmental footprint - and their spending.

Horticultural consultant and London in Bloom executive trustee Peter Holman sought figures on bedding planting from all London's 33 boroughs and received information from 22.

The London Borough of Bexley planted 8,000 bedding plants last year, down from 300,000 two years ago. But Islington, a Britain in Bloom competitor this year, has maintained its floral displays while adding perennial material too.

Holman said: "There have been some dramatic declines. There are two sides to the argument. There is a view that bedding is not sustainable. I don't quite agree with that if you take sustainability in its truest sense.

"A lot of London boroughs are using bedding to cut budgets and be seen as being sustainable. Perennial material is sustainable but doesn't achieve the same thing. I want to see a balance rather than a knee-jerk reaction.

"A lot of council bedding has been reduced for reasons of sustainability when the real reason is budget. That's a fact that few would find difficult to challenge. Whichever party wins the election I can see green spaces being hit very hard afterwards."

Holman added that north of Birmingham traditional bedding was faring better, with Harrogate, Nottingham, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Solihull maintaining schemes, often connected with the In Bloom competition. But RHS Britain in Bloom changed its judging criteria in 2009 to give less emphasis to bedding.

Growers have hit out at the cuts. Midlothian's Pentland Plants partner David Spray said: "Some local authorities aren't ordering at all, while others have cut maybe 10 per cent. It's the soft option when budgets are tight. It's purely economic - nothing to do with sustainability. They have also lost the staff and the skills."

Baginton Nurseries managing director Will Lamb added: "There are spending cuts left, right and centre and (parks departments) are responding to that. Our trade has definitely reduced."

London Borough of Bromley assistant director of parks and green space Patrick Phillips said: "We need to move more towards sustainable planting. We have done some - maybe five per cent of the borough. We give away some old bedding plants to friends groups or hospices, but people may say: 'That's my money paying for that.'"

- See page 22.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to attract the best staff for your business

Sargent's solutions - how to attract the best staff for your business

There are ways to find quality candidates for horticultural jobs if you widen your search parameters, Alan Sargent suggests.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

IoG Saltex 2017 - Kit showcase

IoG Saltex 2017 - Kit showcase

Mowers, turf care, battery equipment, seeds, arboriculture kit and weed control will all see a wide range of new releases at Saltex, Sally Drury reports.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

IOG Saltex

Get set for IoG Saltex 2017 with our comprehensive show guide and exhibitor info.

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Products & Kit Resources

BALI National Landscape Awards 2016

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space

Read Noel Farrer