Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald said: “We are doing this to bring colour back into our town centre streets. We want to bring Southport back from the darkness of the Covid-19 lockdown and give it some light. Planting flowers and making Southport look a really beautiful place to come will help to attract shoppers back into town to spend money with our local businesses”

“We are delighted to work with J&A Japonicas for two main reasons. The first is that we want to spend our money locally, as we are very much wanting people to support their local economy.

“The second is that using flowers grown locally is more environmentally sustainable. It is much better using flowers grown on our doorstep than bringing in companies and plants from elsewhere.”

J&A Japonicas is based on Altcar Road in Formby and has been providing plants for Southport town centre for the past three years.

Owner Ann-Marie Cornish said: “I hope these help bring a bit of colour and cheer to the streets of Southport! Thank you to Southport BID for working with us through these challenging times to get something out. I am looking forward to visiting some of our favourites now the shops have been reopened in Southport.

“For the past few years we have done the planting for the town centre. It’s a job we absolutely love doing because, being local, we visit Southport often and we are proud of the town  The plants are a little later this year because of Covid-19 and no-one knew when shops might be able to reopen, or if there would even be a need for plants if people weren’t out and about to see them.

“But I am pleased to say that Southport BID did ask us to go ahead and spread some colour throughout the town!  They are in the early stages now. But they will soon be out in Southport, and towards the end of Summer you will see them almost trailing to the ground and full of beautiful colour.”

Looking after the blooms is a family affair.

Ann-Marie said: “I own the nursery and my husband James owns a separate sole trader business. He does all the watering in the early hours of the morning, so between us we plant and look after them all.

“I have Been doing the summer planting for the last three years. We started doing the winter planting four years ago.  Originally a national company did the contract but they didn’t take into account the coastal winds and individual needs of Southport, and we live local so we know the weather here. So the BID gave us the Winter contract to start with to see how we went on, they were pleased with our work and offered us the Summer planting too.

“We exhibit at Southport Flower Show every year too and do a big display there.  We don’t live in Southport but it’s where we like to spend our free time so the town is important to us.

“This year the flowers are mostly in Lord Street, Chapel Street, Eastbank Street, and London Street. We are bringing approximately 4,000 plants to the town centre. The planters are all full of trailing plants and geraniums.

“Because of Covid-19 there has been a national shortage of trailing plants because, when the growers would be planting, production actually stopped this year because it fell at the start of lockdown. The plants are sourced by us from other local wholesale growers and then planted into the barriers.

“This year our main supplier who are also our friends, Happy Plants, went the extra mile and anything they couldn’t provide they reached out to other companies to make sure we had the plants to do the job for Southport.  Quite a lot of work and organisation goes into it behind the scenes!”