Alice Buschl and Mike Gafa, from the Nelmac Nursery team with some of the flowers that will be going up in the Nelson CBD this week. Photo: Sinead Ogilive.

Hanging baskets ready for relaunch

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Nelson’s iconic hanging flower baskets are ready to go up, and with 800 baskets set to bloom expect a colourful array on our streets this summer.

The vibrant show will be put up next week, and will take up to 30 volunteers a day and five days to complete, and that’s just the planting and hanging of the baskets.

The tradition began 12 years ago, and local businesses and the public show  a huge amount of support each year, either buying a basket for outside their shop or volunteering their time to help plant them, says Nelmac. The project is implemented by the Nelson City Council and overseen by Mike Gafa, team leader at Nelmac nursery who has been with the hanging baskets project  since it all began, and he says the baskets are all about bringing Nelson’s “streets to life” for the summer season.

Planning for the arrangements started back in May, when last season’s flowers were coming down and turning to compost, Nelmac Nursery staff began their busy selection process for the season ahead, deciding on what flowers to use for the bright displays.

Mike says that after years of putting the project together, the team has used a bit of kiwi ingenuity to deliver the colourful show for the community, creating tools, and growing the plants chemical free to ensure sustainability. “Each year we look at efficiencies, how we can do things better, we are the only people that use biodegradable pots, and we have created our own potting mix. We put a lot of thought into our own innovations to make the job run really smoothly and sustainably.”

Mike says the idea is all about bringing smiles to faces in Nelson, and people always look forward to seeing the flowers up.

“The best part for us is not only the comments ‘oh are you taking the flowers down?’ at the end of the season, but at the start of the season when people say ‘ when are you putting the flowers up?’ that’s the most exciting thing.”

The many volunteers will begin planting the flowers on Monday, and the hanging flower baskets should be gracing the streets by the end of next week.