A record 175 hanging baskets, packed with seasonal flowers, will decorate shop fronts, streets and the town centre’s yards this summer – thanks to the efforts of one of Darlington’s most established businesses.
Elm Ridge Garden Centre and Florist, Coniscliffe Road, has been in the Blake family for 25 years and now garden centre manager John Blake and his 24-strong team are working around the clock to ensure the displays are ready on time.
The baskets are the brainchild of business improvement district company Distinct Darlington, whose town centre Rangers liaised with businesses to plot a map of suitable sites.
Then, as far back as February, John and his staff started sowing the seeds for the geraniums, fuschias, surfinia petunias and bidens, that will form the core of the planting scheme.
“We follow a very traditional planting scheme for the baskets.” he said, “and the main criteria is colour. We want them to brighten the town centre for residents, shoppers and businesses alike.”
“This is the second year we’ve done these for Distinct Darlington and the number has grown, so we estimate it will take us between a week and 10 days to get them all up. But, all being well, they will provide glorious displays right through until October.”
Throughout the summer, the Elm Ridge Garden Centre team will water each basket three times a week and the entire scheme will also be entered into the annual Darlington in Bloom competition.
“This year’s display will be bigger than ever as we are extending it into the Yards,” said Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington.
“It really is a superb example of local businesses working together for the good of everyone who visits or works in the town centre and the baskets have a spectacular impact when they are in full bloom.”
Among those who support the hanging basket scheme is Peter Kirsop, store manager at House of Fraser, High Row.
“The baskets really brighten the town centre,” he said “and the feedback from our customers is always very positive – they absolutely love them.”
For further information, visit www.distinctdarlington.co.uk or call Distinct Darlington on 01325 463002.