Bromley Council has begun a sustainable planting trial in ten of the borough’s flower beds, with a three-year trial to assess the suitability of the planting, the impact on biodiversity and to collect feedback from residents.
What is the sustainable planting trial?
At present, the council is responsible for over a hundred traditional annual flower beds across the borough measuring almost 6,900m2, and containing over 150,000 seasonal bedding plants.
In partnership with our grounds maintenance contractors idverde, we have planted beds at ten sites with a mix of shrubs and flowering plants and herbs, with some beds being planted with prairie planting styles, and some that are designed specifically for pollinators, depending on the local conditions of the bed itself. Critically, all plants have been selected to be of value to pollinators and we avoid planting anything of an invasive nature.
Unlike the seasonal bedding plants, these plants are regenerative, which means that they are less expensive to maintain whilst creating enhanced habitat and requiring less water.
A change to the planting approach in some or many of the flower beds in the borough to sustainable, regenerative planting would be a significant change to the way that the green environment is managed and therefore a trial has been established to gather feedback from those who live, work, study or visit in the borough to inform decision making.
How will it benefit the borough?
Seasonal bedding relies heavily on planting ‘annuals’, which is not particularly sustainable because:
- they require intense watering, which can be challenging in hotter weather or drought conditions,
- they are one of the least valued habitat types; they are intensively produced and provide a monoculture environment which does not allow for wildlife to flourish.
- plants in these beds are routinely changed and replaced because of their growing cycle and flowering longevity.
Conversely, regenerative and perennial planting is advantageous because:
- These plants last longer and it is less expensive to maintain, saving up to £40 per square meter on contractual rates,
- the plants can also be dynamic in colour and form in summer months whilst providing interest in the autumn and winter,
- it provides mini ecosystems and enhanced habitats, which are of particular benefit to pollinators,
- less cultivation of beds improves soil structure and allows for earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi to flourish which supports plant life,
- a less resource intensive management regime produces less carbon.
When is the trial happening?
The sustainable planting trial is underway, with planting completed in November 2023. The trial will run for a period of three years (to recover the costs associated with replanting) with a review of the feedback from public engagement after the first year to inform our next steps.
Where are the sustainable planting flowerbeds?
- Waterman’s Square, Penge (Penge and Cator)
- Elmers End Green, Elmers End (Kelsey and Eden Park)
- Betts Park, Anerley (Crystal Palace and Anerley)
- Kelsey Park, Beckenham (Kelsey and Eden Park)
- St Mary Cray High Street, St. Mary Cray (St Mary Cray)
- Shortlands Green, Shortlands (Shortlands and Park Langley)
- Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Beckenham (Kelsey and Eden Park)
- Coney Hall Recreation Ground, Coney Hall (Hayes and Coney Hall)
- Beds surrounding Coney Hall Roundabout, Glebe Way (Hayes and Coney Hall/West Wickham)
- Chislehurst High Street, Chislehurst (Chislehurst)
Complete our Sustainable Planting Trial Survey
We are keen to hear your thoughts about the Sustainable Planting Trial. We would like to know your views on how the planting in your area is going, what you think of the trial in general, and where you think where would benefit from sustainable planting.
Complete the survey before November 2024 to let us know. You can complete this survey more than once, so please keep us updated with your views.
What happens next?
Following the closing of the survey, the council will review the information it has collected with a view to deciding whether to extend the trial to additional beds, stopping the trial and reverting to annual bedding after year 3, or recommending a permanent change to the way these and/or additional flower beds are managed in the borough.