Baskets of flowers a CBD delight
Whanganui’s signature hanging baskets in the CBD are an essential part of the look of the town.
Personal tragedy compelled Bristol Plants and Seeds, the former long-time supplier, to cease creating the colourful baskets, and Mainstreet — in charge of the look and maintenance of the CBD — had to look elsewhere.
Mainstreet did not have to look far, and now Calix Nursery in Longacre Rd has the contract and the hanging baskets, still sourced locally, once more add personality to central Whanganui.
Alix Taylor has run Calix for 24 years and has been supplying hanging baskets for Mainstreet since late last year.
“Mainstreet asked around and interviewed a few different nurseries and we ended up with the job,” says Alix. Summer is “hanging basket season” with a smaller number supplied for the cooler months.
“Our goal is to reach a minimum of 900 baskets in the town centre,” says Amanda Gibbons, Mainstreet General Manager. “An impressive display.”
Plants vary from season to season.
“This year we’ve kept it to impatiens,” says Mainstreet’s Julie Northcote, who is in charge of the CBD gardens. “They grow well.”
“And they grow evenly,” says Alix. “And it’s a variety of colours.”
“With impatiens the leaf colour is different too,” says Tony Ireton, the man who is tasked with the actual physical job of looking after the hanging baskets.
“I maintain, water and weed the baskets,” he says. He puts them up, takes them down, takes care of feeding them and replacing the sphagnum moss when it needs doing.
“It takes two to three weeks for two guys to put them all up,” says Julie, “And the same amount of time to take them down.”
Tony has got to know each basket and what they need and when. A few baskets have an automated watering system, but most have to be watered by hand. Tony starts at the Grand Hotel corner at about 1am on Monday, waters for four hours, has a cup of tea, gets his ladder and inspects baskets for weeds and general maintenance until between 8am and 10am. It’s a full-time job over the summer and the CBD looks all the better for it.
Council won’t fund the same number of baskets over the winter but there is an option for businesses to purchase yearround baskets. Some do.
Tony often finds plants and baskets vandalised or torn down and thrown in the fountain.
“Usually around the celebratory season,” he says.
“Which runs from January to December,” says Julie.
“But by 9am when everyone arrives for work it’s all looking stunning and beautiful,” says Amanda.
Alix supplies trees and shrubs to garden centres as well as Mainstreet’s hanging baskets.
“The whole thing was to keep it local,” says Julie.
“This is working,” says Amanda. “We’re in year one and year one is always a testing year and I think we’ve done pretty well.
“It brings life and colour into a community and gives the impression of vibrancy.”
“You always get comments from visitors,” says Tony.
Alix enjoys her relationship with the Mainstreet people.
“Communication is easy and they’re a good working team,” she says.
Julie Northcote, Tony Ireton of Mainstreet and Alix Taylor from Calix Nursery beneath Victoria Ave’s hanging baskets.