Floral displays - but no hanging baskets

Winchester City Council is going ahead with floral displays in the City this summer, using drought-resistant plants in its flower beds and troughs and utilising other water-saving methods.

Over 90% of the flowers and plants will be drought-resistant and mulch will also be spread on the flower beds to retain as much moisture as possible

However, the Council has decided it would not be justified in using hanging baskets as part of its displays at a time when water supplies need to be conserved.

The Council has allocated £35,000 over two years to support work connected with Winchester in Bloom and has asked the voluntary organisation to work with them to design planting schemes using different plants. However, the Council understands the voluntary organisation will carry out its own programme of floral decoration.

The issues concerning floral decorations are particularly sensitive because of increasing awareness of water shortages across the South.  Although there are currently no water restrictions in Hampshire which would affect householders, the Council has decided to lead by example and respond to requests from Southern Water that local authorities minimise the use of water-hungry plants and flowers in their displays.

Hanging baskets do not easily retain water, no matter what plants are used.  The 300-plus baskets erected each year require a heavy watering programme that uses 2,400 gallons of water a day. During the watering season between May and September this equates to nearly 300,000 gallons of water - roughly equivalent to three main swimming pools at River Park Leisure Centre in the city.

The Council recognises the value that people place on floral displays, particularly in such an attractive place as Winchester. However, with the current water situation the Council has a duty to act responsibly and has designed its other displays so that people can still appreciate the formal areas in the City without the need for excessive amounts of watering of displays.