Dartmouth Green Partnerships applauds floral efforts in town
Dartmouth Green Partnerships has in the past made Town Awards for what its members have judged to be the best floral displays in different categories. This is always difficult as it depends on timing – too early and the display may still be developing, too late and it is going over, and there is always an element of subjectivity. There is also the problem of comparing very different approaches to displays, from single species or colours to many varied plants, from bought in baskets to home made, and from new displays to ones which have been tried a tested and are known to work well.
Rather than ranking them, DGP has taken a different approach from the traditional first, second and third awards, instead applauding all those in Dartmouth who take time and trouble to plant displays which make the town attractive and welcoming to residents and visitors alike, and this report reflects the achievements and trends we have noticed. We believe that there is very real economic benefit to the town from its floral displays.
Our members have been out and about looking at floral displays around pubs, cafes and restaurants, shops, hotels, bed & breakfast places, taking into account sustainability and appropriate choice of plants, how innovative they are, how wildlife friendly, their condition and the overall impression they create, adding to the street scene. We have been particularly pleased to see evidence of careful maintenance – dead heading and watering – to keep displays at their best for longer, and of street sweeping and tidying. We have also noted where efforts by several different businesses combine to make a whole street or area much more attractive.
Pubs and cafes– we have enjoyed the wonderful, high impact displays of single species and colours or colour themes, such as the sumptuous apricot begonias decorating the window boxes of the Ship in Dock and the Market Tavern, echoing DGP’s own theme in our hanging baskets and troughs, or the bright red waterfall begonias which have become an annual tradition at the Floating Bridge – and have recently been installed at the newly opened Seven Stars. In contrast there are the lovely mixed baskets and troughs of varied and delicate plants at the Windjammer, the Dolphin, the Cherub (with the golden cherub figure back in place at last!) and the Royal Castle. Some cafes also have notable displays, such as the Singing Kettle in Higher Street with its vertical begonias and window boxes, and even cup and saucer containers. At the corner of Coronation Park the Anchorstone café has a lovely display of containers and baskets.
Bed & breakfast and hotels– these include houses with front gardens on busy Victoria Road such as Cladda, Valley House and Hill View House which contain an attractive mix of evergreens and floral displays, baskets and troughs. Camelot has a pretty flower filled display in a tiny space. The Cherub’s Nest in Higher Street stands out for its magnificent display in a very confined space on the street, with hanging baskets, tubs and troughs. Anzac B&B and restaurant has similarly made a great effort, adding to the street scene.
At the far end of town near the Higher Ferry is the wonderful, professionally landscaped garden of the Dart Marina, a great example of sustainable planting, giving year round interest.
Shops – Foss Street is the focus of many of the floral displays and illustrates very well the benefit of a street-wide approach in a pedestrian area. Simon Drew takes charge and encourages all the shops to participate. Plants are even put outside shops which do not actively participate. There is endless scope for variation – there are some stunning large containers and evergreen shrubs (Simon Drew) or olive trees (Coombe Gallery and Trish Thomas) for year round effect, brightened with flowers and sometimes colour themed (Baxters). We love the quirky additions such as a very tall lily or flower-filled milk churns (Rolys Fudge shop).
Another location with several different displays enhancing the street scene is ‘Pillory Square’ – the old heart of Dartmouth running from Smith Street along Higher Street. Here is Flora, the flower filled boat and the much-used yellow painted bench opposite the Singing Kettle’s great display of colourful begonias and pots in a tiny space. The newly opened Seven Stars has a great display of trailing begonias. Further on in Higher Street is the Cherub pub with its lovely baskets, the wonderful display outside the Cherub’s Nest B&B, and opposite, the Dartmouth Community Bookshop’s colourful display of planters, baskets and troughs.
In the Old Market shops and cafes have created displays, several with all year round evergreens such as phormiums, as well as quirky treats such as flower filled bras and trousers! The pretty hanging baskets add a delicate floral touch.
Elsewhere there is Lower Street where the Good Intent benefits from troughs outside the flat above the shop in addition to those at shop level – another example of great collaboration. In Hawley Street different businesses have made an effort, planting containers.
Sheltered housing which has garden space also adds to the town’s displays – at the Mariner’s Cottages and Churchill Court in Victoria Road, and Holdsworth House with its baskets and containers along Higher Street.
It is disappointing to see that some shops in Dartmouth do not participate, or only minimally – and we note that these are often the corporate businesses which do not seem to see the need to support local effort which has an economic benefit for the whole town in attracting shoppers. We hope that this will change. It is also sad to note that there have been thefts of plants from some places.