Harrogate Borough Council workers replanting the flower beds on the Stray in Harrogate. (Picture Gerard Binks)
Faced with plenty of criticism from residents, Harrogate Borough Council had said it was all about getting the timing right when planting for the summer and they would be filling the empty beds along West Park Stray and Montpellier Hill as per schedule.
This week it appeared they were as good as their word.
Harrogate’s festivities to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne earlier at the start of the month received widespread praise.
A joint-effort by Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID), Harrogate Borough Council, Your Harrogate and local business and community groups, attendance for the programme of special events running for four days on the Stray and in the Valley Gardens was high with the official estimate of 120,000 visitors.
There was just one blemish - the neatly trimmed flower beds running along West Park from Hotel du Vin to The Yorkshire Hotel (and the top of Montpellier) were entirely devoid of flowers.
One councillor, Harrogate Lib Dem leader Coun Pat Marsh went as far as to label ‘Flowerbedgate’ a “lost opportunity” for Harrogate.
Speaking at the time, Coun Marsh said: “I am shocked, upset and angry as the town is known for it’s horticultural excellence, winning not just Yorkshire & UK In Bloom titles but European as well.
“Add into that the Queen’s Jubilee then there his huge disappointment.
“I know that some of the responsibility is that of the hotels but the council should have worked with them for this very special one off occasion. This could damage Harrogate’s reputation.”
But Harrogate Borough Council refused to let the grass grow on the issue, making what it thought was an obvious point - the flowers have to be at their best across all the weeks of summer yet to come.
Staff in its parks team plant flowerbeds twice a year, in June to July and October, with suitable annual bedding plants and are hand weeded regularly.
A council spokesperson said: “Summer bedding is planted each year at the same time to ensure the frost has passed and we can provide fantastic colour throughout the summer months.
“It takes around a month to plant the whole of the district’s flower beds so we intentionally left some of the flower beds in Harrogate town centre empty to ensure they weren’t damaged by the expected numbers of revellers for the Platinum Jubilee and to give them the best chance of flourishing over the next few months."
Not a cock-up or a conspiracy, just a matter of horticulture, it seems.