Wednesday, 04 August 2021

Hanging basket sales hit 150

The Standard’s Buy A Basket campaign has reached its recordbreaking 150 basket target.

The Standard’s Buy A Basket campaign has reached its recordbreaking 150 basket target.

Town centre shops, businesses and residents have embraced the campaign which was launched in April to beat the 2005 record of 146 baskets and boost Henley’s chances of becoming Britain in Bloom champion.

Henley is competing for the title for the first time after winning gold in the town category for the Thames Valley and Chilterns region in last year’s competition.

Marisa Francini, a member of the Henley in Bloom group which has co-ordinated hanging basket sales said: “Everyone involved in Henley-in-Bloom is absolutely thrilled that the target has been reached in just seven weeks. The people of Henley have been so generous in their support for the baskets, and we have also received some lovely letters and comments from businesses and private individuals too.

“The Henley Standard has run a brilliant campaign for the town and I would like to thanks all those involved, as well as Higgs Printing, for their support over the past weeks. I feel it has been a real community acheivement that will be seen by everyone who lives in or visits Henley.”

She hopes more orders will still be made, particularly in areas where few baskets have been purchased so far.

Kellie Hinton who chairs Henley In Bloom, said reaching the 150 basket target demonstrated “community spirit and togetherness”.

She said: “Having 150 baskets will make the town look absolutely fantastic- on a day like today when there is not a cloud in the sky and you are walking through a town which is alread so beautiful will lift people’s spirits.”

She said special thanks should be given to Mrs Francini and Caroline Langler for co-ordinating the basket sales.

“Marisa and Caroline have been absolutely phenomenal,” Mrs Hinton said. “Liz (Hodgkin) and I went to a few businesses but Marisa and Caroline went to pretty much every one in the town encouraging people to sign up to the campaign.”

Mrs Langler said: ““We are so grateful to everyone who has joined in with the spirit of things. I think if word gets round that Henley is looking particularly beautiful this year then more and more visitors are going to come to the town.”

Windowflowers, based in Burnham, began installing the summer hanging baskets on Wednesday. They should all in place by the end of next week.

The baskets include purple surfinia, begonia, blue lobelia, red ivy leaf geranium and a central blue salvia- as well as golden bidens, to celebrate last year’s success in the regional competition.

Miles Watson-Smyth, director of Windowflowers, said: “The mix is unusual and we hope will not be seen in any other neighbouring towns and cities,” he said. “We also try to include plants which are either new varieties or are not widely available to the public.

“The aim is not only to maximise the quantity of flowers but to also prolong the season, right up until late September. They must be striking without being garish and the deeper colours will allow this.”

David Bird, general manager of Strada in Bell Street, will buy two baskets, as usual.

“They really enhance the front of the restaurant,” he said. “I think it is nice that the small independents and the bigger high street brands come together because not every town has that kind of community spirit. Henley is a beautiful town and anything that makes it more attractive can only be a good thing.”

Lesley Alfred, manager of Marc Antoni, will order one basket.

“It gives a nice welcome to the town- it’s bright, it’s colourful, it shows community involvement and brings the market town to life,” she said.

“I think if the baskets are uniform people notice them a lot more because of the repetition and hopefully they will follow them through the town.”

Jolyon Miller, landlord of the Row Barge in West Street, has agreed to buy a further two baskets, boosting the number of baskets on his premises to six. Brakspear has agreed to pay half the cost of the additional baskets.

Mr Miller said he hoped the baskets would help attract new customers to his pub garden.

“We are slightly off the beaten track so it is nice for people to see the flowers up the road and know there is a pub there,” he said. “I don’t think many people know we have got a garden as so many people are pleasantly surprised when they realise it is there.

Henley Allotments Association has also bought one basket.

Doug Richards, voluntary site manager for Waterman’s allotments, said: “As a committee we thought that we should support the hanging baskets campaign because the council has been very good to us and we want to help enhance Henley.”

The Britain in Bloom judges will visit the town between July 29 and August 9. Their marks and comments will concentrate on three areas — horticultural achievement, enviromental responsibility and community participation.

Henley will be up against Windermere, Oakham, the City of London, Morpeth, Freckleton, Blairgowrie & Rattray, Newquay and Garforth in the best in town category. Each of the 79 finalists will be presented with a bronze, silver, silver-gilt or gold award and an overall winner will be chosen in each of the 12 categories.


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