An insight into Shipston in Bloom
Walking around the town centre of Shipston over the last two months you will have seen a display of spring bulbs and flowers in all manner of different locations and planters. Have you ever wondered who put them there?
We caught up with Chairman of Shipston in Bloom, Simon Welch, to find out more.
“Let me dispel a myth – it was neither the elves nor the fairies!” - Simon revealed that over a period of about ten days late last October a small team of local volunteers descended upon Shipston and planted 8,000 daffodil bulbs, 1,000 tulip bulbs and 600 forget-me-not plants. The planting was designed, planned and executed by Shipston in Bloom – a committee of 10 local residents. They were assisted by half a dozen additional helpers as well as the Rotary Club, the Lions, and last but by no means least the town gardening contractors – Lawns 2 Mow.
Shipston in Bloom exists in order to make the town colourful and attractive throughout most of the year for the benefit of both residents and visitors by creating a spring bulb display and later in the summer, a display of summer bedding plants.
Simon explained that Shipston in Bloom’s working year begins in early October when the summer bedding displays have finished and the plants are removed and discarded. The containers and beds are dug over and then planted with the bulbs and plants that will blossom in the spring. The committee then start the exercise of planning for the summer bedding displays choosing a design, colour scheme and appropriate plants. By the end of December the team is ready to order approximately 4,000 plants.
“For summer 2018, we have gone for a simple, but multi-coloured scheme – trailing begonias in the planters and antirrhinums in the flat beds, with a few structural spot plants – cordylines.” Simon revealed.
At the end of April, when the bulbs have finished flowering the hard work really begins. All the bulbs are lifted and the top six inches of spent compost is removed from all the planters and replaced. Slow release fertiliser and water-retaining crystals are added. From the end of May, the bedding plants are planted out and watered in.
“Once we’ve completed the summer planting, we begin to relax and, along with residents and visitors, enjoy the fruits of our labour. However, keeping the plants sufficiently watered can be a major headache. We rely on rainfall and the tremendous job done by Lawns 2 Mow with their water bowser, but the 88 householder pots have to be watered more regularly.” Simon explained.
“Despite the considerable rainfall Shipston experienced on occasions, many householder pots suffered badly through lack of any water. So if you have householder pots outside your house, shop or business, could you PLEASE look at them every two or three days as you go in and out, and if the plants look sad and the compost feels dry – please give them a good water. Thank you in advance!” he added.
By the end of September, the summer display will be fading. October arrives and Shipston in Bloom’s annual cycle starts again for another year.
Funding the blooms
Bulbs, plants, compost, fertiliser are paid for indirectly by residents via the Town Council precept (part of the council tax). In addition, the group holds a Grand Raffle at the Victorian Evening to raise funds. Shipston in Bloom also receives a small number of generous donations from some residents. The money raised (excluding the council grant) is used to fund a replacement programme of planters.
“Next time you see a senior citizen wearing a high-vis tabard labelled Shipston in Bloom, and on their knees grovelling around a flower bed or crouched over a planter, stop for a chat with us, we more than welcome suggestions for improving the town’s floral displays.” Simon concluded.
Shipston in Bloom would love to welcome more members. If you might be interested in joining please contact Simon Welch by phone or e-mail - 01608 663596, firstname.lastname@example.org