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Cromer gets that Mediterranean feeling

PUBLISHED: 15:39 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:54 13 July 2010

A Palm Beach flavour is set to sprout from the streets of Cromer as the resort gives its flower beds an exotic twist.

In a bold move hanging baskets - the mainstay of many a community's efforts to add a splash of colour to its streets - will be dropped in favour of planting palms, yuccas and grasses.

A Palm Beach flavour is set to sprout from the streets of Cromer as the resort gives its flower beds an exotic twist.

In a bold move hanging baskets - the mainstay of many a community's efforts to add a splash of colour to its streets - will be dropped in favour of planting palms, yuccas and grasses.

The aim is to give the resort more of a Mediterranean holiday feel - and improve its sustainability by ditching baskets that are a drain on water and people's time.

Cromer in Bloom chairman Jim Bond said: “We have got nothing against hanging baskets. At best they are brilliant and beautiful, but at worst they are atrocious and they need a lot of work, with watering twice a day.

“They are fantastic when they are looked after, but the rest of the time, if they get too wet, too dry, or blasted by the wind, they are indifferent to awful - a basket of dead things.”

Hanging baskets have run into trouble in other towns and villages because of health and safety concerns about the lampposts they dangle from. But at Cromer the concern is over how eco-friendly they are as a form of gardening.

His group of a dozen volunteers spent two hours a day watering up to 60 baskets around town, and £1,000 of their £3,000 annual budget on bedding plants that were thrown away a few weeks later.

“It is a ridiculous waste of time, water and money,” said Mr Bond who is now encouraging the planting of more exotic species - but still with splashes of colour from flowers too. “We are gardeners, not water-carriers.”

Beds will have palms, yuccas and grasses - along with architectural flowering plants such as cannas - as opposed to a “two dimensional sea of petunias that is mud the rest of the year.”

With carefully chosen plants that would survive in the coastal climate it would give the resort a Mediterranean flavour and planting that was adventurous, sustainable, different and had a “wow factor” rather than just being “pretty.”

The town was not entertaining the Anglia in Bloom competition this year, while it made the transition - and Mr Bond was keen to ensure its planting was done for the benefit of the town all year around rather than just for judges who visited on one day.

They local In Bloom committee hope their planting initiative would give individual gardeners ideas, and he was in talks with the local councils to see if bold ideas could also be used in civic parks and gardens - including possibly planting palms along the promenade.

Gardening expert and writer Alan Gray from the Old Vicarage at East Ruston said “hoorah” to Cromer's initiative, which progressed seaside gardening rooted in Victorian times when displays were mainly carpets of bedding plants in the shapes of clocks and anchors.

Community gardens were evolving, as shown by the number of palms now appearing on roundabouts and beds in shopping streets around the county.

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