Plantscape gets set to mount the biggest planter collection operation in its history

Floral features supplier Plantscape is planning the biggest and most complex collection operation in its history as it prepares to bring in thousands of flower-laden planters from across the country.

The company, which is based in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, has had to extend its planter retrieval period to six weeks to enable it to collect more than 12,000 hanging baskets, barrier baskets and floor-standing multi-tier planters.

It will employ three extra temporary workers in order to form three teams of collectors, who will work 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday travelling to locations as far afield as Bangor in Wales, Haverhill in Suffolk, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Southport and Worcester.

The planters, full of compost and still overflowing with flowers, will be picked up and placed on the back of a fleet of trucks and transported back to the company’s headquarters in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

The contents will then be emptied out and collected by a local farmer, to be spread as a mulch on fields used to grow corn and maize.

The operation, which begins on September 19, is a reverse of the company’s initial delivery schedule, which stretched from May into July.

The company watered and maintained many of the displays itself during the season but has now stopped watering many of the planters ahead of recovering them so that the water in the reservoirs is used up and the compost dries out, in order to save weight.

Mark Stone, managing director of Plantscape, said: "We have had more orders this year than during any time in our history and so inevitably just as the delivery operation was the biggest and longest we have ever mounted, the retrieval operation will be on a similar scale.

"It is a significant undertaking on a huge scale that will take us right up to the end of October for the first time. We have extra staff and a fleet of trucks and pick-ups lined up and at the height of the operation we will be sending away up to 30 large trailers full of used compost and plants every day.

"Our displays will be in full, colourful bloom by now and it’s always a shame to have to remove them but it’s compensated by the knowledge that our products will be put to good use enriching the soil naturally for next year’s food crop."

One customer which received a display from Plantscape was Merthyr Tydfil’s Business Improvement District, the Big Heart of Merthyr, for which the company installed and maintained 110 hanging baskets and six four-tier planters around the Welsh town this summer.

Antonia Pompa, BID co-ordinator for the Big Heart of Merthyr: "Everyone who has spoken to me has been delighted with the flowers, especially concerning the four-tier planters, which have flourished.

"I think that the flowers have been a valuable part of what we do for the town and it will look very bare when they are removed, but we will look forward to having flowers back again in Spring."

Plantscape was acquired by landscape services, estate management and play space services providers TCL Group this year and supplies hanging baskets and a wide range of planters to councils, shopping centres and other organisations across the UK.

It will now switch its attention to supplying its solar powered Christmas trees for the forthcoming festive period, which provide a twinkling display for civic seasonal decorations without the need for wiring or an external power supply.

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