Grower criticises cuts in planting

The decision by councils to axe planting programmes because of water concerns is questioned by a bedding plant expert.

A “knee-jerk reaction” is how British Bedding & Pot Plant Association chairman Duncan Taylor described the decision by some local authorities to slash planting programmes this spring. Several councils in the South East facing water restrictions have reduced or cancelled planned plantings because of a perceived need to “lead by example”. But Taylor has questioned the move. He said: “Watering plants is expensive so I’m not sure if this is because of water or a cost- cutting exercise. “Things have suddenly gone from no control to complete control and that’s a knee-jerk reaction.” Brighton & Hove City Council has cancelled its hanging baskets but intends to continue watering turf unless the situation worsens. This approach has baffled Taylor: “I’d like someone who is cleverer than me to work out how much watering one golf course would use compared to those hanging baskets.” Other councils, including Horsham District Council, will switch to plants that need less water. A Crawley Borough Council representative said it would reduce watering of turf and estimated that by not having hanging baskets, it would save 184,000 litres of water. The Environment Agency has warned that the South East faces the worst drought in 100 years. * Wiseweather predicts 120 per cent of average rainfall in March.

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