Level 2 Horticulture students have been busy planting up the flower beds in St James’ Square, Newport.

A flavour of the Mediterranean arrives in Newport flower beds

Newport Parish Council are delighted to have worked in partnership with the IW College to produce a long term solution for the flower beds in St James Square.

The raised beds in St James Square have traditionally been planted with successional bedding, in other words twice a year the beds have been planted for spring bedding then again for summer bedding. This is generally expensive and time consuming, although the tradition of amenity planting in public spaces is an expectation of the general public and they soon notice when it disappears or looks untidy!

Rob Mew (Curriculum Manager and Horticultural Lecturer at The Isle of Wight College)

Newport Parish Council approached the Isle of Wight College to see if Horticulture students and staff could help prepare a permanent planting scheme. They came up with a list of plants, which provide all year interest with a particular focus on summer, but also the plants chosen needed to be selected for tolerance to the site being that it is sunny and exposed and will require some but not too much maintenance. The plants selected are ‘Mediterranean’ meaning that although not all plants are from this region, they tolerate the conditions many of which are plants which thrive on the Island quite happily.

On the Day…

Plants were sourced from nurseries but several were propagated and grown-on by the students who planted the area, plus the agapanthus were kindly donated by Steve and Rosie Bonsey, owners of Nunwell House in Brading.

The beds were planted by eleven Level 2 Horticulture students on Wednesday 22nd June on a slightly damp day, ideal for getting these plants established for a June planting! The ground was prepared in advance and the border was finished by 1.00pm. The planting style is a little different in that the mix of perennials and shrubs are planted in stripes which will grow out and knit together creating an interesting scheme. The plants will display a mix of interest from foliage and shape to colourful flowers which will attract insects.

The public showed a lot of interest while we were planting, asking questions and commenting on how nice it looked and what the plants were … they seemed very pleased with the result.

Coincidentally, this border was one of Rob Mew’s first jobs as a trainee after leaving school, with the local council when he was with Seaclose Parks Dept in 1983! He helped clear the summer bedding in the autumn of 1983 and then re-planted with spring bedding – at the age of 17!

The new planting is stunning and perfect fits our needs of a sustainable and drought friendly scheme.  Having the expert knowledge of Rob and his students has been invaluable and another great collaboration between the IW College and Newport Parish Council

Cllr Jones-Evans (Parish ward member for the area)

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