Penarth’s hitherto barren Clock Roundabout – the iconic central hub of the town which describes itself as the “Garden by the Sea” – is finally getting some flowers planted on it today.
Throughout the Spring and Summer months there’ve been complaints that the roundabout – which in previous years has traditionally always hosted attractive displays of colourful bedding plants – has just been left as bare soil by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
Attempts by environmentalists to plant their own marigolds on the roundabout were foiled in August when their plants were either uprooted by council staff or sprayed with powerful weedkiller to remove them.
The council had claimed that it wasn’t able to plant anything on the roundabout this year because of work being done to install three Christmas Tree sockets for Penarth Town Council. (There will be three smaller trees on the roundabout this Christmas rather than just one large tree)
The Vale Council has also told Penarth Town Councillors that it has moved from planting traditional bedding displays to planting wildflowers and herbaceous plants instead which need relatively little attention. The council says this is more economical to maintain and requires less commercial weedkiller.
The Vale Council’s Parks Officer Adam Sargeant has told Penarth Councillors that its part of the council ‘s policy of “swopping seasonal bedding areas for wildflower areas” . The new wildflower and herbaceous areas involve much less maintenance than traditional formal flower displays. It also eliminates the annual cost of buying-in bedding plants
There are however downsides with wildflower displays – one of which, as Mr Sargeant explained, is that the seeds don’t necessarily regenerate every year . However he says that “the public have loved wildflower displays more than anyone had ever thought “.
Mr Sargeant told Penarth Councillors that the Italian Gardens had now been replanted with geraniums which prevented what had been a continual “drain on resources”. Mr Sargeant said there was still “a place for formal bedding” and a place for what he called “interest”.
The change of policy reduces the cost of buying in bedding plants and the labour costs involved and also cuts down on the use of chemical sprays.
He also said that the change has also assisted the council to reduce the amount of weedkiller or pesticide it uses. The Vale of Glamorgan now uses 150 litres of chemical every year of which 80 litres is “glyphosate” – an approved professional Monsanto commercial weedkiller.
Mr Sargeant said glyphosate was classified as “may have carcinogenic potential” – but no more so than “coffee and bacon” .