A year in the making: Bury St Edmunds' Abbey Gardens summer display
With well over 1.4 million visitors a year, and internationally renowned for its colourful and attractive displays, there is no doubt the Abbey Gardens is a very special place to visit.
It’s certainly not hard to understand why it has won the prestigious Green Flag Award on many, many occasions.
But have you ever wondered what it takes to keep the gardens looking so meticulously maintained and magnificent all year round?
Over the past week, park manager Martina Georgieva and her team of full-time and part-time staff, along with an army of volunteers, have been busy planting over 20,000 plants for the summer display, ensuring the gardens are looking stunning right through to the autumn.
The process of changing over planting displays includes the removal of the old bedding plants, before each flower bed is rotovated, fertiliser and water retaining granules added, and the new plants planted in position. The entire process takes about four weeks to complete.
The floral displays are different every year, and are planned a year in advance to enable the plant nursery to source and grow on the plants until they are ready to be delivered to site.
There are 64 ‘island beds’ within the central display – the inspiration behind the Abbey Gardens’ logo - and each bed has its own planting plan. In addition to being colourful and attractive, many of the summer bedding plants are beneficial for pollinating insects.
In October, Martina and her team will repeat the process all over again, removing the summer flowers and replacing them with 12,000 new plants and 20,000 bulbs ready for the spring display.
Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Community Hubs, said: “All of our parks and open spaces provide a place where people can exercise and enjoy the beautiful scenery which is good for their mental health as well. In addition to this the Abbey Gardens has a role to play as a visitor attraction, helping to support our local economy.
"The number of visits to the Abbey Gardens is up on previous years and I am extremely proud of the staff and volunteers across all of West Suffolk Council’s parks teams, and all they do to help make West Suffolk such a wonderful place to live, work or visit.”