Ipswich and Stowmarket stations bloom thanks to ActivLives charity

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Stunning floral displays will welcome passengers at Ipswich and Stowmarket rail stations once again 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 will take pride of place at stations on the Norwich – London mainline.

Not only will the baskets brighten up the journeys of everyone who passes through the stations with their colour and fragrance, 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 ActivLives team planted up the baskets back in April. They have since tended the choice Begonia blooms (Begonia ‘Fragrant Falls’ and Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’) at the glasshouses in the walled garden at Chantry Park, bringing them into peak condition for display at the rail stations.

ActivGardens Development Manager Susannah Robirosa 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.”

James Steward, Abellio Greater Anglia’s Area Customer Service 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 look forward to receiving the hanging baskets which are 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, and Begonia ‘Fragrant Falls’ 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 as well as their colour and fragrance. 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 – they looked stunning on show at the stations last year, but this year we’re adding fragrance to the platforms too, by adding in Begonia ‘Fragrant Falls’ into the baskets. 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.”