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LOUISE MIDGLEY wishes her local train station looked as beautiful as the ones in Ipswich, Stowmarket and Diss

The daily commute for the fortunate passengers of three railway stations on the Norwich to London mainline has been greatly improved by an eye-catching floral makeover that will  raise spirits both first thing in the morning and at the end of a long day.

The stunning displays are the result of a collaboration between train operator Abellio Greater Anglia, a local charity ActivLives (www.activlives.org.uk) and the plant and seed retailer Thompson & Morgan (www.thompson-morgan.com).

Volunteers, people on work placements and young learners from the charity ActivLives all helped assemble and care for 20 summer hanging baskets, gaining valuable horticultural experience along the way.

In April the team planted up the baskets with help from experts at Thompson & Morgan in the glasshouses in the walled garden of Chantry Park. They were lovingly tended and bought into peak condition for the display at the railway stations from early summer and will continue right through to autumn.

The aim of the local charity, ActivLives, is to bring people together in an active and healthy way to improve the vitality of their communities and the lives of the people who live in them.

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L-R Jackie Rathbone Abellio Area Ticket Office Manager, Kris Collins Thompson & Morgan, Ric Staines ActivGardens

ActivLives Lead Horticulturalist and Trainer Ric Staines commented: “Our students have gained valuable skills relevant to working in the horticultural industry.

“We were happy to work in partnership with Abellio Greater Anglia and Thompson & Morgan to bring this project to fruition and we hope all rail passengers will enjoy the efforts we’ve made to brighten up their journeys.

“Thompson & Morgan has also helped give our young horticulturalists new experience in the world of business.”

Based in Ipswich since 1855, the mail-order company Thompson & Morgan donated all the plants, baskets compost and feed.

The begonia ‘Apricot Shades’ was chosen for its perpetual flowering, undemanding habit and ability to withstand the vagaries of British summer weather.

A dazzling array of sunny colour combinations of double blooms in tones of peach, orange, apricot and yellow will only improve as the summer progresses.

Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said “When it comes to hanging baskets ‘Apricot Shades’ is always our first choice. We can’t think of a better summer performer.

“Planted in incredicompost and fed with incredibloom at planting time, these baskets will look stunning right through to autumn, with minimal care from station staff – spent flowers simply fall off to be replaced by fresh new blooms.

“ActivLives has done a fine job of growing them on ready for display, they certainly have some future horticulturalists in the making.”

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Hanging basket in Ipswich station

Alan Trett, Customer Services Manager of Abellio Greater Anglia, felt the project was a win win situation for all involved and welcomed the floral displays in three of the stations they service.

“We are delighted to be involved with ActivLives, literally providing a platform for the young people involved to showcase their newly gained experience,” he said.

“We are delighted with their efforts and I hope they feel very proud of their achievement, which is sure to brighten the day of the thousands of passengers who pass through these stations.”