ActivLives charity helps Ipswich, Stowmarlet and Diss rail stations bloom

Monday, 22 June 2015

Stunning floral displays are welcoming passengers at Ipswich, Stowmarket and Diss rail stations this summer thanks to a partnership between local charity ActivLives and train operator Abellio Greater Anglia, with help from Ipswich-based horticultural company Thompson & Morgan. 


Volunteers, work placements and young learners from charity, ActivLives, have created 20 summer hanging baskets, filled with Begonias supplied by Thompson & Morgan, which now take pride of place at the three stations on the Norwich – London mainline.

Not only will the baskets brighten up the journeys of everyone who passes through the stations, the project has also provided local young people with valuable horticultural experience. Participants from a number of organisations, including WS Training, Talent Match and Seetec, take part in training programmes at ActivLives’ two garden projects in Ipswich to gain skills for work.

The team planted up the baskets with staff from Thompson and Morgan back in April. They have since tended the choice Begonia blooms at the glasshouses in the walled garden at Chantry Park, bringing them into peak condition for display at the rail stations.

ActivGardens Lead Horticulturist and Trainer Ric Staines said: “Our students have gained valuable skills relevant to working in the horticultural industry. We were happy to work in partnership with Abellio Greater Anglia and Thompson & Morgan to bring this project to fruition and we hope rail passengers will enjoy the efforts we’ve made to brighten up their journeys. As well as supplying plants, baskets, compost and feed, Thompson & Morgan have also helped give our young horticulturists new experience in the world of business.”

Alan Trett, Abellio Greater Anglia’s Area Customer Services Manager said: “We are delighted to be involved with ActivLives, literally providing a platform for the young people involved to showcase their newly gained experience. We are delighted with their efforts and I hope they feel very proud of their achievement, which is sure to brighten the day of the thousands of passengers who pass through these stations.”

Begonia ‘Apricot Shades Improved’, a firm favourite with Thompson & Morgan’s mail order customers, were chosen for the basket displays for their ability to cope with all that the British weather can throw at them come rain or shine, with minimal need for maintenance. The firm has been supplying home gardeners with mail order plants and seeds from its Ipswich HQ since 1855. The stunning begonias have been a no.1 best seller for the company since they were launched back in the 1990s.

Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said: “When it comes to hanging baskets ‘Apricot Shades’ is always our first choice. We can’t think of a better summer performer. Planted in incredicompost® and fed with incredbloom® at planting time, these baskets will looking stunning right through to autumn, with minimal care from station staff - spent flowers simply fall off to be replaced by fresh new blooms.  Activlives has done a fine job of growing them on ready for display, they certainly have some future horticulturists in the making.”