Bridge in Bloom! Orwell crossing gets secret spring makeover

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.

Orwell Bridge

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!”

Orwell Bridge 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.

Thompson & Morgan

Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.

How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

It’s often difficult to judge how many plants to use per hanging basket or container. We’ve put together a table of our most popular bedding plants, showing how many you’ll need for the best display!

How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

Planting up a hanging basket

Plant spacing

When looking at the number of plants to put in a hanging basket or in a pot you don’t need to follow the usual rules of plant spacing. The spacing normally quoted is designed to give plants the maximum amount of space to reach their full potential. However for a seasonal container display designed to flower for 4-6 months it isn’t necessary to follow these rules. You can use many more plug plants per hanging basket to create a billowing cascade of colour.


How many plants do I need in a hanging basket or container?

Customer Doug Upson’s begonia ‘Apricot Shades Improved F1’ basket

A general rule of thumb when planting a hanging basket is to use one plant per inch of basket diameter – 12 plants per 30cm (12″) hanging basket.

The only exception to this is when you use strong-growing plants such as fuchsias and geraniums (pelargoniums). In this case it is best to only use 5 plants per 30cm (12″) hanging basket.

A 30cm (12″) patio container will comfortably accommodate about 6-8 plants, but fewer strong-growing plants.

Take a look at our table below to find out how many plants you will need for each of your containers.

Click here for more information about how to plant up hanging baskets, flower pouches® and containers.

Plant Flower Pouch® Eezee Hanging Basket 22cm (9″) basket 30cm (12″) basket 30cm (12″) patio container Flower Ball 3-tier Planter Eezee Patio Bag
Begonia (fibrous, e.g. Organdy) 10 10 6 10 8 24 20 10
Begonia (tuberous, e.g. Apricot Shades) 7 5 3 5 5 24 15 10
Bidens 10 10 5 7 5 24 20 10
Busy Lizzies 10 10 4 10 8 24 20 10
Sunpatiens n/a 8 n/a n/a 5 n/a 10 10
Carnation (trailing) 10 10 6 10 8 n/a 20 10
Fuchsia (upright) 5 10 3 5 5 24 15 10
Fuchsia (trailing and semi-trailing) 5 10 3 5 5 24 20 10
Geranium (bedding pelargoniums) 10 10 3 5 5 24 15 10
Geranium (trailing pelargoniums) 10 10 3 5 5 24 20 10
Lobelia 10 12 8 12 10 24 20 10
Petunia (trailing) 8 8 3 5 5 24 20 10
Sweet Pea (trailing) 10 12 5 12 10 24 20 10
Verbena (trailing, e.g. Peaches and Cream) 10 10 3 7 7 24 20 10


Rebecca Tute

Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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