Making a start on the Preston Circus planters

It’s hot now in Brighton. It’s been hot for the past 10 days. Last Saturday was hot and bright – a perfect day to start exploring the four municipal planters at Preston Circus. Eve and I spent a couple of hours digging over the planters and rescuing the plants that had survived.

We did have to clear quite a few cigarette butts, but contrary to expectation, the planters were relatively clear of rubbish. What’s more, the compost in them looks feasible. It’s dried out, but it’s not dusty, compacted soil or the kind of claggy mix of sand, chalk and stones that we uncovered in the shady triangle to begin with. It will need quite a lot of mixing with organic matter. But there’s potential.

Furthermore, we were able to rescue quite a lot of plants. It looks like these were planted last summer, but clearly didn’t grow well. The majority were root bound: their roots had grown round and round tightly following the shape they had been in the pot, not venturing out and developing into the soil. We dug out about eight lavender and ten vinca minor that were growing. There was also quite a bit of catnip (nepeta cataria) and some curious rhizomous plants: kniphofia? hemerocallis? montbretia?

The rescued plants have now been repotted and soaked, and are being looked after outside my greenhouse. They should grow back, ready for planting at the end of April when Brighton & Hove City Council have promised to refresh the soil in the planters.

As always, passers by stopped to chat as we dug, and five more people signed up to support the resurrection of the Preston Circus planters, in particular to take on watering once planting has happened. We’ll be looking at planting from mid-April. Drought-tolerant plants are going to be essential given this summer’s hosepipe ban.

If you’d like to help with resurrecting these planters, do get in touch: pcplanters@hotmail.co.uk

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