London Fire Brigade extends contract with Burleys

London Fire Brigade has extended its contract with Burleys to provide grounds maintenance, arboricultural and winter maintenance services to its estate.

The extension will see Burleys continue to undertake planned maintenance to more than a hundred LFB buildings across the capital including front line fire stations, call centres, command centres and the LFB headquarters at Southwark.

The contract has also seen Burleys undertake landscape improvement work across the estate, improving the public image of the stations. These include improved planting schemes, tree planting initiatives and mulching beds to enable planting schemes to retain water.

The extension follows the recent renewal of a contract with NHS Property Services which will see the company work on 300 sites across the UK, with the major focus in London, the Midlands, the south coast and the north west.

Burleys operations director Joe Howarth said: “We are extremely proud that our contract has been extended. It is a further example of our continued partnership with the emergency services of London and we look forward to delivering our grounds maintenance service to them over the coming months.”

Plantscape flowers transform behaviour in Welsh market town

A pretty market town, which has won silver in the Wales In Bloom contest two years running, is enjoying an unexpected bonus as a result of planting all year round flowers in its main square.

Ross Morgan, town clerk of Llanrwst in Conwy, says transforming the look of the square with help from the UK’s largest supplier of hanging baskets and planters, Plantscape, has had the knock-on benefit of transforming the behaviour of some residents and visitors.

The square was the scene of a vandalism and littering incident a while ago, but since the floral facelift there has been a renewed pride in the town, he explained.

Not only was Llanrwst presented with the silver award in the last two Wales in Bloom contests, this summer it will be hosting the National Eisteddfod. So the town’s blooms will gain even more praise than they have since Plantscape was brought in to help add extra colour to the town centre in 2016.

In fact, the blooms have attracted so many positive comments that with this year Llanrwst has asked the civic floral display specialists to extend the scheme to other parts of the town and one of its two railway stations.

Ross explained: “We will continue to extend our displays throughout the town and are currently contemplating the creation of a memorial garden at the town’s War Memorial.”

Ross initially dipped his toe in the Plantscape water with the company’s solar powered Christmas trees three years ago. “From there it blossomed, if you’ll pardon the expression,” he said. And he has been working closely with them ever since.

“It’s a year round arrangement. As soon as Plantscape collect the solar trees in January, the winter and spring hanging baskets are put up. Then in spring, the summer baskets are brought in and they stay up ‘til November, and we take them down in time for Plantscape to deliver the solar trees.

“Transforming the look of the square transformed people’s behaviour. Nothing was further from our minds. We wanted to give the square a more attractive feel. What we were finding last summer was that people were coming from nearby, such as Llandudno and Portmadog, seeing how attractive the square was and making a point of coming back another day for a few hours. Cafes put seats outside and over the Easter weekend it was so busy I don’t think you could have got another person on the square.”

The Plantscape displays are replanted each season, together with a number of beds planted up by a group of young people with learning difficulties who work at a local nursery run by Conwy County Borough Council Social Services.

“Their work, enthusiasm and pride at what they are achieving is an example to all,” said Ross.
While Ross is a huge fan of Plantscape, whose team he says have been incredibly helpful, he has just one tiny gripe!

“The service has been first class. The only problem is they tend to deliver in the middle of the night and to ensure that planters are correctly located I have to be in town by 3am!” he said.

Playforce supports Big Science Event

From May 7th the Science Oxford team and experts from education, business and science engagement will be heading out to primary schools across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to meet pupils involved in the Big Science Event 2019 and judge their presentations.

The Big Science Event is a competition for primary school pupils which encourages them to have fun with science while learning about the experimental process at the same time.

Class groups are challenged to create their own science experiment or investigation, and present their findings to a panel of judges. The experiment can be on any topic and previous entries have included ‘What makes snails move?’ and ‘How much air does it take to pop a banana?’

During the judging phase of the competition, the top groups from each school will present their experiments and findings to the judges and the winning group will go on to the regional final, which takes place at the Science Oxford Centre in Oxford on 4th and 5th July.

The Big Science Event was created by Science Oxford back in 2012 and is sponsored by organisations such as Playforce, Abbott Diabetes Care and new supporter Diamond Light Source. In 2018, over 11,000 pupils from 80 schools across Oxon and Bucks took part in the competition. This year that figure has gone up to 91 schools and over 12,000 children.

Sophie Batin, Science Oxford education and family outreach manager, says, “We love doing the cluster judging at its our first chance to see what this year’s school groups have come up with in terms of their experiments. We’re always surprised by the topics and ingenuity shown.”

She adds, “Playforce donates £1000 worth of school play equipment to each of our winning schools (in Oxon and Bucks) and we know that such an amazing prize provides a great incentive for the children involved.”

Plantscape team become overnight BBC TV and radio stars

The UK’s biggest supplier of hanging baskets and planters, Plantscape, is basking in media stardom this week – having featured on BBC TV and radio in a matter of hours!

BBC Radio Derby’s roving reporter Heidi Booth joined the early birds at the company’s Egginton nursery at the crack of dawn for two hours to broadcast live to the station’s breakfast show listeners.

She chatted to operations manager Mat Davison, senior operations manager Pete Halls and planter Fran Archer about the scale of the operation and the processes involved in planting up 90,000 blooms in 12,000 planters to distribute to 130 locations across England, Scotland and Wales.

Heidi learned how just one man, Stefan Banica, was responsible for watering every single plant – an all day job which he adores. She also discovered that Plantscape’s 15-foot flower towers weigh a tonne once filled with compost and water, and that each member of the five strong planting team can put together up to 400 hanging baskets a day.

Fran told her that she found her job therapeutic, while Pete said the idea that the flowers could make someone’s day was what made his job so worthwhile.

Mat, who describes the plants as his ‘babies’ told her what immense pride he took in his job. “I absolutely love it,” he told her.

No sooner had the Plantscape team recovered from the onslaught of questions from Heidi than BBC Radio Derby’s televisual counterpart – BBC East Midlands Today – turned up for a spot of filming.

The nursery was described by BBC reporter Quentin Rayner as ‘the hanging baskets of Egginton.’

He chatted to Mat and Fran who told him she could plant up a three tier flower tower in just ten minutes. Mat said that even in these times of austerity councils still wanted to spend money on flowers because “they bring joy and happiness to people walking down the street.”

Both BBC broadcast media were stunned by the immense scale of the operation and the fact that so many of the civic planters seen across the nation all radiate from a huge greenhouse complex in rural Derbyshire.

The BBC visits coincide with a record number of summer orders – with more councils, BID groups and corporate organisations buying Plantscape’s services than ever before.

Towns, cities, In Bloom groups and Business Improvement Districts to benefit from the Plantscape magic include the ancient walled cities of York and Chester, Beaumaris and Worcester. Their pots also featured last month on BBC TV’s Britain in Bloom series.

The BBC Midlands Today footage starts at 23 minutes in while the three BBC Radio Derby interviews can be heard at around 55 minutes, one hour 21 minutes and two hours 21 minutes into the show.

NHS Property Services extends its contract with Burleys

NHS Property Services has extended its contract with Burleys.

The extension will see the company work on 300 sites across the UK, with the major focus in London, the Midlands, the south coast and the north west.

The initial contract began in 2016 when Burleys was selected ahead of 160 other contractors to operate half the nationwide grounds maintenance service for NHS properties across the whole of the UK.

The appointment followed a major rationalisation programme carried out by
NHS Property Services aimed at slashing 20% off the outsourced NHS facilities management bill which was then running at around £200 million a year.

Burleys operations director Joe Howarth said: “The extension is another clear demonstration of Burleys’ collaborative approach to service delivery with customers working well, with both parties satisfied with the standard of service we provide.”

Plantscape helps Birmingham BID members become BBC TV stars

A transformed Birmingham street has been featured in a half hour episode of the BBC’s popular Britain in Bloom programme – thanks to a helping hand offered by Plantscape.

Soho Road Business Improvement District is one of a number of Birmingham BID groups for which Plantscape is providing summer and winter floral displays or planters.

And the transformation from concrete jungle to urban oasis was broadcast to millions of viewers recently on BBC 2.

The 600 businesses and various community groups in the mile long Handsworth street, which has suffered in the past from problems with antisocial behaviour, decided to work together to overturn its bad boy reputation.

The BID’s energetic and passionate manager Diane Mansell, who has notched up numerous Britain in Bloom successes in various towns across the UK over the past eight years, said the power of flowers would make a massive difference to the feel and prosperity of the area.

She approached Plantscape last summer asking if it could help – and the team responded by offering a number of used planters at a reduced price, with local businesses, a school, the Sikh temple and members of the public determined to help out. Diane oversaw the installation of 120 planters containing 7,000 plants along the length of the street.

Indeed, the project was so successful – not only in earning the road a silver gilt In Bloom, award, but in boosting the coffers of the local community – that Diane has asked Plantscape if it can help out again this summer.

Presenter Chris Bavin said of the road: “Its bustling, it’s vibrant it’s colourful. It’s not what you’d associate with your normal Britain in Bloom entry. It’s a diverse area, an urban melting pot of different cultures.”

Diane Mansell added: “If you think of Bloom you don’t think of the Soho Road. We have people from all over the world come here. So we need to showcase what we have in Birmingham and what we have on the Soho Road to keep these people coming here. We’re using Bloom to regenerate the area. In Bloom can help change people’s lives. And I’ve seen that in the past when I’ve used it in other areas.

“I believe in In Bloom so much that I really do believe it can work.”

Business managers interviewed on the programme were enthusiastic about the project and the impact the blooms would have on community spirit and their bottom line.

One said: “If an area looks nice people feel good and if they feel good they want to shop more.”

Soho Road is just one of the groups with which Plantscape is working in Birmingham and the Black Country. Southside BID has ordered both winter and summer planting schemes to encourage footfall and boost local trade, as have Acocks Green, Erdington and West Bromwich BIDs.

Birmingham as a whole has seen great investment and improvement over recent years, with the development of its iconic library, space age Bullring shopping centre and revitalised New Street station. It is home to theatrical venues such as the Hippodrome, O2 Academy, the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Rep.

And it will play host to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 – another tick in the ‘putting Birmingham on the map’ box.

Watch Soho Road BID’s transformation here.

Plantscape celebrates record summer orders

Civic floral display specialist Plantscape is celebrating a record year – with more councils, BID groups and corporate organisations buying its services than ever before.

The planting teams are flat out at the company’s main nursery complex in Derbyshire and its newly opened facility in Yorkshire, which was set up to tackle the increased demand.

Among the new clients choosing Plantscape is Gloucester BID which has never previously employed a professional company to create its floral displays.

The displays are eagerly awaited, not least because the team failed to fill its town with blooms last spring because it contacted Plantscape too late in the season. So it signed off its 2019 order months ago to make sure it was at the head of the queue this time around.

Plantscape sales executive Alan McGregor explained: “The BID team not only wanted a supplier of beautiful floral planters, but also needed a company which would work in partnership with them. They wanted us to help them choose the most suitable containers to maximise the effect of the display, because this was the first time they had installed such a large number of planters.

“After several visits by our sales and operations team we helped Gloucester to plan and design the layout and content of their summer floral planter scheme and we know residents and visitors will be pretty amazed by what they see.”

The city has ordered 30 flower towers, 63 hanging baskets and 26 lamp post planters which will be installed at the docks and The Cross, where the four main shopping streets converge. Plantscape will also water them throughout the summer – with that task required only once a week thanks to its innovative seven-day watering system.

Oban BID, which has seen Plantscape’s solar powered Christmas trees boost festive custom over the past couple of years, has appointed the company to plant an impressive 280 baskets for display around the town this summer.

In Pontefract, Upton and North Elmsall Parish Council has ordered 120 lamp post planters.

And in Nantwich, Grade II listed Victorian four star hotel, Alvaston Hall has chosen Plantscape to festoon its grounds with flowers.

Thousands of planters and baskets will be installed at hundreds of locations across England, Scotland and Wales from late May onwards.

Plantscape’s maintenance teams will then water the planters just once a week thanks to a built-in deep reservoir seven-day hydration system which kept the plants healthy and happy – even during last summer’s heatwave.

Burleys team supports young people’s wellbeing charity

Burleys is donating time and expertise towards helping young people with mental health, emotional and social issues.

Team leader Craig Smith has been working with Northamptonshire charity Youth Works
which helps teenagers who are struggling with modern life.

It offers counselling and support for children and families, a work readiness programme for young people, alternative education through their its own community college, and a range of extracurricular clubs and activities.

Craig has been helping out with one of the charity’s projects which involves renovating a dilapidated courtyard garden at the William Knibb Community Centre in Kettering and transforming it into a calm and pleasant haven for everyone to enjoy.

Scheme manager John Gardener at William Knibb said: “We are so grateful to Craig who has been helping us with expert advice and lots of practical support and enabling our young people to learn and develop new skills.

“We are so grateful, as even the smallest donation can lead to a significant change in a young person’s circumstances.”

Burleys contract manager Alan Wadsworth added: “We are committed to helping the communities in which we operate by volunteering on projects which will help improve the wellbeing of local residents – and we are delighted to have been asked to help out with this initiative.”

Birmingham BID and global firm find traffic calming use for Plantscape pots

Town centres and businesses are discovering an unusual use for flowering planters. As well as brightening up the environment, they’re also providing an attractive and cost-effective way of controlling traffic!

The latest organisation to discover the unexpected benefits of the massive pots planted, supplied and maintained by civic floral display expert Plantscape, is a global information company with an HQ in Surrey.

IHS Markit in Coulsdon was looking for a way of adding some spring joy to their premises while also preventing unauthorised drivers from using their car park.

Plantscape sales executive Alan McGregor, who provided the firm with pots containing primroses, viola and japonica, explained: “They came to us wanting some heavy planters that would not only look good but act as a deterrent to stop people abusing their car park.

“Customers who want to manage traffic tend to use our large floor standing planters such or our one metre square planters. When full of water and compost they weigh around 800 kilos. The plastic walls have a bit of flexibility so can absorb a car knocking into them without damaging the planter or car. They have forklift spaces at the bottom which allow easy movement by a pallet truck.

“They are delighted, not only with how they look, but also about how effective they’ve been in achieving their aims!”

IHS Markit, which has 50,000 customers in more than 140 countries, is following the lead of Soho Road BID group in Birmingham, which has also used Plantscape’s enormous planters to manage traffic flow.

Alan explained: “They contacted us a couple of years ago with the idea of using our planters to help control traffic and parking. In fact, the police and the council both think it’s a brilliant idea as it’s been so effective. It has saved money by not investing in more traditional and expensive methods of traffic management.

“And as a bonus, not only did it make a massive difference with the traffic, they even won an In Bloom award!”

Burleys landscapes Eastbourne’s new £54 million cultural quarter

Royal Warrant holder Burleys has just completed work on an important component of part of a £54 million refurbishment of Eastbourne’s new cultural, sporting and conference quarter.

The contract, on behalf of Eastbourne Borough Council saw the Burleys team landscape the grounds of the town’s newly renovated Congress Theatre, which was unveiled this weekend with a sellout concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The two-year refurbishment saw the 1,680 seat Grade II* listed theatre restored to its original condition, with major improvements including new heating and air conditioning systems, the installation of a state-of-the-art lighting bridge and the replacement of old electrical equipment.

The Congress Theatre is considered architecturally on a par with buildings such as The National Theatre and Chichester Theatre.

The refurbishment is part of Eastbourne Borough Council’s £54 million project to create The Devonshire Quarter, a first-class cultural, conferencing and sporting complex.

A welcome building will provide conference halls, break out and hospitality areas and the site’s central box office, practice tennis courts will be finished in time for the town’s international tennis tournament in June 2020 and an elegant new plaza will provide an attractive gateway into the theatres, conference facilities and art gallery.

Built in 1963, with an inaugural concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the theatre has been closed since January 2017 for the renovations to take place.

Performances coming up over the next few months include appearances by comedians Dara O’Briain and Jasper Carrott, and Mike and the Mechanics

Burleys operations director Paul Norton said: “We were thrilled to have won the contract to carry out the landscaping for this very prestigious project. The Devonshire Quarter is to become the jewel in Eastbourne’s cultural and sporting crown and is designed to put it very firmly on the conference destination map. Our work will be seen and admired by thousands of people every year and we are very proud to play a part in this historic, once in a lifetime, transformation.

“In just a week our talented and dedicated team managed to transform beds of bare earth into swathes of impactful displays of shrubs which will be dotted with spikes of colour interest at different seasons, giving visual interest to visitors all year round.”