RHS Harlow Carr medal awarded to ex-Sefton Council nursery manager

Former Sefton Council nursery manager Alan Foxall has bounced back from being made redundant by the authority to be awarded the RHS Harlow Carr medal following a gold medal in his own right at Southport Flower Show.

Foxall left the parks department two years ago - he joined in 1967 - and was responsible for shows, bedding and designing flower beds and hanging baskets. But Sefton made heavy cuts, reducing the botanic garden-based nursery operations by three-quarters.

Foxall said: "It was the best time for me to leave the nursery but 5,000 Southport people signed a petition to save the nurseries and flower displays. The council took a slight U-turn and nine lost jobs became only six gone."

Foxall set up on his own under the name Simply Flowers & Foliage. He won gold at Southport Flower Show in 2012 and will be back this year (15-18 August) with a display featuring a centrepiece bed covered in a "quilt" of flowers. He uses Ball Colegrave seed, as the council did for 50 years.

Foxall said: "The council is no longer at the show. It's a sad day for the town. I know the council had to make cuts but it was wrong to cut the nursery budget so much." He added that the Harlow Carr medal was "not just for me but for the team".

The nursery is now operating at half strength, growing only for its shop. The local authority said it saves £100,000 a year by using contractors for summer bedding.

There is no autumn/spring bedding, with beds left empty. The 850 hanging baskets have also gone.

Foxall said: "It's a shame because people used to come and see the display - we're a seaside town."

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