Drivers, walkers and river users around Ipswich are set for a brighter journey this spring. Marking 160 years at the forefront of mail order supply to home gardeners, we have dressed the iconic Orwell Bridge with a 2.4km long display of spring hanging baskets. Counting off the years we have been trading in Ipswich, 160 hanging baskets have been set along each side of the bridge, creating two 1,237m swathes of dazzling spring colour above the River Orwell.
Our Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord, said: “We’re world renowned for our seasonal bedding and basket plants, so what better way to celebrate a landmark birthday and a long history in Ipswich than with a display of what we do best? We could have teamed up with an internationally recognised gardening venue like Kew or Chelsea, but we wanted to show our roots as well as our flowers by staging the celebrations here in Ipswich.”
Mr Hansord plans to contact Guinness to see if the project has unwittingly set a world record. He added: “It may not be the world’s biggest in terms of the number of baskets, but we may have a British record on our hands – if not for the biggest display, then certainly the longest!”
Perhaps more impressive than the stunning display of over 5,700 spring flowering violas, always a firm favourite among Thompson & Morgan customers, is the efficient and covert way in which the project was under taken.
Horticultural staff planted the baskets back in February, tending them in the warmth of the company’s heated glasshouses. To keep the project under wraps until the big April reveal, staff were sworn to secrecy – even friends and family had to be kept in the dark.
Highway contractors were drafted in to set the 320 heavy-duty hanging brackets in place before the baskets could be hung, working over night in liaison with local authorities to cause minimal disruption to traffic. As work was carried out between 12-4am over the last three nights of March to meet a 1st April deadline, the project went largely unnoticed. But for sharp-eyed locals living in the shadow of the towering concrete crossing, the stunt was hard to miss.
Alf Spirolo, 63, of Wherstead, walks his two Chihuahuas along the river every morning. He said: “The past few mornings I’ve noticed more and more baskets on both sides of the bridge. The fact this has gone up over just a few nights without any disruptions to the A14 is an amazing feat. What a sight to see them covering the full length, this really is going to brighten up my walk to get the morning papers.”
The baskets will stay in place until 1st June. Depending on public support they will be replaced with summer flowering versions to keep the display in peak condition.