Bollywood comes to East Devon as the council modernises its flower beds with entertaining and inspirational colour schemes

Seeds of change - a riot of searing shades of orange, pink, yellow and purple blooms are now being grown in East Devon's flower beds

The seeds of change have literally been planted in East Devon District Council’s flower beds this season. After fifty years of horticultural restraint, a riot of colour has been unleashed, featuring searing shades of orange, pink, yellow and purple.

This radical change is the brainchild of East Devon’s very own Parks Improvement Officer, Sharon Scott, who, together with her StreetScene colleagues, decided it was time the council modernised its beds and adopted planting combinations that would both entertain and inspire visitors to its parks and gardens.

Her bold Bollywood-themed schemes have already attracted approbation not just from the public, but also from other councils who have flocked to East Devon to admire the district’s dazzling blooms.

Sharon explains the daring shift in change, saying:

“After fifty or so years of using similar colours and plants, we decided it was time to try something completely different. So we thought, why not a Bollywood planting theme with vibrant shades, such as bright oranges and pinks with hints of yellow and purple.

“We’ve introduced Pelargonium Pinto Premium Orange and Premium Violet along with Petunia Easy Wave Burgundy Velour as a complete contrast. White Pelargonium Pinto Premium White has been selected on areas where the beds are slightly shady – this provides ‘lift’ and highlights the beds affected by low light levels.

“As well as the colour scheme changes, we have introduced some perennial planting within our annual schemes. These types of plants add a different leaf form and texture, and give the bedding displays a bit of ‘va va voom’! Some of the perennial planting consists of a coastal plant - Leucophyta brownii Whimsy Silver - which has been incorporated in either block planting formation or used as an edging plant to highlight the rich hues of the pelargoniums.

In East Devon’s Green Flag award winning Connaught Gardens in Sidmouth, Stipa tenuissima Pony Tails has been added to the pelargonium displays, giving the bedding displays a more contemporary feel.  Each year in Connaught Gardens we allocate planting areas to the local schools to plant up. This is a great way to get the children involved with plants.  This years’ theme for the School Beds focused on varying combinations of green foliage plants, using different types of annual leaf forms, such as Ipomoea Solar Power Green mixed with perennial planting, such as Sagina boydii. The varieties of the leaves, their shapes and their different textures create an unexpectedly powerful display and highlights the varying colour palette of the colour green!

Meanwhile, in Blackmore Gardens, the Loch Ness monster has surfaced amidst an array of blue, silver and mauve flowers, which represent the water. Throughout the town there is a feast of floral delights thanks to Sidmouth in Bloom (a voluntary community group focused on the horticulture and environment of Sidmouth), from colourful flower towers and window boxes to a nautical themed garden complete with fishy displays.

In October, the annual plants will be offered up to the public prior to the winter bedding schemes being implemented, when perennial plants will be put in together with a hefty helping of East Devon’s very own blend of compost, featuring a rich mixture of donkey manure and green garden waste (collected via the council’s popular green waste collection scheme).

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon’s environment portfolio holder, said:

“This year’s visionary planting schemes have been nothing short of spectacular and their success is the result of much hard work and careful planning from our StreetScene Parks teams, supported by a band of dedicated community volunteers, including the WI. My thanks to them all for their time and effort.”