“Start looking up and listen!” Was the message, last Thursday morning, at the launch of Waterford Business Group’s (WBG) annual City In Bloom (CIB). The 2018 launch took place in Garter Lane Arts Centre, which will be a focal point of Waterford’s new Cultural Quarter.
Now in its fifth year, City In Bloom has grown from the proverbial small seeds to become a significant annual project for Waterford City. The early displays accounted for around 40 baskets and boxes. WBG report that the figure is now in the hundreds, with an ever-increasing demand each year. In fact, the myriad of hanging baskets and window boxes, over the last few years, have contributed directly to increased points in the annual Tidy Towns competition in particular, with special mention being given to the last two judging cycles.
2018 will see over 450 floral displays sprouting up around the City Centre and further afield. Ferrybank, Ballinakill Shopping Centre, Ballybricken and the new Cultural Quarter, centred around O’Connell Street, are all now an integral part of CIB. Additional support is given by the likes of Waterford Train Station and the Port of Waterford.
This year will see the very special addition of specific pollinator-friendly flowers or “Bee-friendly” as Michael Garland, Chair of WBG, likes to insist they are called.
“Last year it was mentioned by Ray Moloney, Waterford Council, that at a local authority event/gathering the success of CIB was used, as an example of how a collaborative approach to a project worked brilliantly well. However, it was pointed out the perhaps the types of flowers used were not “Bee friendly”, stated Michael Garland
“We, the WBG, immediately decided that in 2018 we could remedy this, by adding specific pollinator-attracting flowers. So, the displays will have a combination of Verbena and Biden's blooms. Those green fingered amongst us, know that both of these plants are very attractive to butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. The addition of such plants will continue in future years. We may even be the first city or town in Ireland, to make a conscious effort to help the pollination process. Another FIRST for Waterford.”
There are over 130 businesses taking part in the project for 2018. The WBG has entered into an agreement, with Waterford Council, to run and administer the project until 2024. The value of the project will be worth circa €300,000 by the end of the 10 year cycle. It is hoped that every single business will eventually get involved and that the City will be synonymous with Summer blooms, in years ahead.
George Kehoe of Occasions The Quay, WBG Project Coordinator, commented “Annually we go out to businesses, to judge the support for the coming Summer. This year we have added another 100 new baskets and if truth be told, we could have added many more. But we have to have a deadline for expressions of interest, otherwise we can’t order new baskets, make new brackets and get the displays planted and started growing on time. If any businesses are interested to be part of 2019 and beyond, we’d ask that you get in touch ASAP, to avoid disappointment.”
Launching in conjunction with CIB will be the Morris's DIY Shop Front Improvement Competition. Won last year by TRM. This project is asking businesses to improve their shop fronts, over the Summer months. Simply take a before and after shot and send the image to the WBG’s Facebook page. The event will be judged in the Autumn and a €1000 voucher, for Morris’s DIY, will be given to the winning business. All businesses who wish to take part can open a business account in Morris’s DIY, specifically for the competition, and they will receive a discount on all purchases necessary to brighten up a tired shop front.
“WBG are delighted that Seamus Reynolds and the Morris’s DIY Team are back on board sponsoring this initiative. It is important that we put our best foot, or flower, forward during the Summer months. This is our shop window for tourists and visitors alike. We’d love everyone to be able to look at shop fronts, the colourful floral display and say “WOW, what a beautiful City this is!” stated Michael Garland.
The CIB bloom project is supported by a grant from Waterford Council, the many businesses who purchase the flowers and the volunteer body that is the Waterford Business Group. Whitfield Bedding Nursery, through Catherine Nolan, grow, plant, nurture, feed, water and maintain the displays throughout the whole Summer months.
“This truly is a unique local project that is nothing short of Blooming Marvellous”, according to Michael Garland.
Waterford Council project coordinator Ray Moloney, Waterford Business Group committee George Kehoe, Jim (Flash) Gordon, Michael Garland, Marie Cooke, Cllr Eddie Mulligan, Brian Tynan, Glenn Sheridan, Gemma Hughes, Anne Marie Coade, John Hayes & Fiona Quilty
City In Bloom is a partnership agreement between the Waterford Business Group and Waterford Council. Developed as part of WBG’s participation on the City Centre Management Group.
Morris’s DIY, Cork Road, are sponsors of the Shop Front Improvement Competition
Whitfield Bedding Nursery, Butlerstown, Waterford, flower supplier