Bas­kets of flow­ers a CBD de­light

Wanganui Midweek - - NEWS - By PAUL BROOKS

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.

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

Julie North­cote, Tony Ire­ton of Main­street and Alix Tay­lor from Calix Nurs­ery be­neath Vic­to­ria Ave’s hang­ing bas­kets.

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