East Devon swaps seasonal displays for permanent plants and flowers

Seasonal flower displays in East Devon parks and green spaces are being scrapped in favour of wildlife-attracting blooms and plants that will return year-on-year.


The district council is sowing seeds of change in the way it manages beauty spots in a bid to be more environmentally-friendly.

Plans involve a reduction in seasonal bedding displays to include more permanent planting designs.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) says it is on a mission to take ‘positive steps’ to reduce its carbon footprint, utilise resources more sustainably and increase biodiversity.

The authority added that a cold and dry spring has meant newly-planted beds are looking ‘less full’ – but will flourish as the weather warms.

An EDDC spokesperson added: “Our mission is to provide more sustainable planting that gives year-round interest and colour but lessens the impact on our planet.

“This action is a small but important part of our work to help meet our climate change action plan as part of signing up to the Devon Climate Emergency.

“We really hope everybody gets on board and supports a greener East Devon.

“We understand this won’t be to everyone’s taste, however, we have had a real buzz around this; on-site whilst we have been planting out the interest from the public has been really high.

“Many people now seem to understand the need to think about sustainability, the way we look after our planet and the importance of providing habitat as well as year round interest in our beds, many of which were often bare in the autumn/winter months.

“This is a new venture for us, and we would urge the public to hold their judgement until the beds are fully established. We will continuously review the success, adding colour and interest.”

EDDC says there are a number of reasons why it has changed its approach:

  • Permanent planting will help to create mini eco systems and habitat for bugs, bees and birds to flourish;
  • Plants will be selected to provide nectar, essential to our pollinators to thrive and survive;
  • Plants will be selected on their drought tolerance and suitability to the endemic environment but also their wonderful flowers, form, texture or scent;
  • Planting can be divided and recycled in future seasons – less plastic pots and trays;
  • Reduced cultivation of the beds allows earth worms and mycorrhizal fungi to flourish – big buddies of plant life.

The council says it is reducing its traditional bedding displays because:

  • Bedding plants are intensively produced and provide a monoculture environment which doesn’t allow wildlife to flourish;
  • They don’t attract enough pollinators essential to biodiversity;
  • They are single-use and are thrown away at the end of their short life. There is a seismic shift to move way from single use products for good reason;
  • They require intensive watering which is an unnecessary waste of natural resource;
  • The constant digging over of the beds disturbs the natural soil culture.

Councillor Denise Bickley, EDDC’s assistant portfolio holder climate action and emergencies, said:

“I am delighted to totally support this change in policy.

“We must do all we can to help the planet recover, by doing the most we can in our own area.

“This is a win on so many levels – helping biodiversity, reducing plastic waste and transport pollution, allowing soil quality to improve, reducing inadvertent damage to peatbogs just for starters – and we can all benefit from learning from the gardening skills it takes to enable a healthy native, perennial display, as oppose to easy wins earns from planting more ‘showy’ annuals.

“I look forward to seeing these displays mature and thrive.”