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Coronavirus saps the colour from Aberdeenshire's summer

By Kirsty Brown

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When travel restrictions are lifted, people may notice that the north-east's communities are not quite as bright this summer.

With an array of restrictions on day to day life in place in an attempt to restrict the spread of Covid-19, Aberdeenshire Council have confirmed that they will not be supplying communities with plants this year with a spokesperson saying: "unfortunately we are unable to supply the usual community bedding flowers".

Many communities across the county apply for an allocation of bedding plants which they then use to brighten up their settlements, making them more pleasant places for residents, workers and visitors alike.

The decision to not proceed with the supply of plants this year has been made in the interests of both Council staff and the community volunteers who turn the plants into colourful displays of tubs, baskets and beds.

While acknowledging that the decision is "understandable" many are still disappointed that they will not be able to enjoy the usual floral displays around the area this year.

A spokesperson for Ellon Civic Pride said: "We won't be doing anything [with flowers] this year.

"It is understandable - in the grand scheme of things flowers are low on the priority list - and we have to look after our volunteers.

"We will be back next year!"

The future may not be completely colourless, however, with some communities looking for alternative options to bring some life to their local areas.

Floral displays across the north-east will be significantly fewer this year, and the annual Formartine In Bloom competition has been cancelled.
Floral displays across the north-east will be significantly fewer this year, and the annual Formartine In Bloom competition has been cancelled.

Some smaller settlements, including Woodhead of Fyvie, are encouraging green fingered residents to help out where they can, using their own horticultural endeavours to brighten things up for passers by.

Woodhead's Audrey Clark said: "With the current restrictions planting out the way we usually would just wouldn't be possible as we normally all gather together and it needs two people to be close together to lift the pots sometimes.

"This announcement just takes the decision out of our hands, and we're looking forward to getting stuck in again next year."

Crudie Community Garden Committee have also reached out to residents for support.

Turriff Town Pride Group are hoping to still bring a splash of colour to the town centre, but admit that they will not be able to put on as extensive a display as they have in previous years.

The group's John Smith said: "We have been doing this for Turriff for more than 20 years, so we are definitely very disappointed.

"We are going to try our very best, and there will be something - we're just not quite sure what we'll have yet."

Meldrum Amenities Improvement Group are also anticipating the ability to bring some colour to Oldmeldrum, however it will not be as large scale a display as has become synonymous with the multi-award winning village.

The group's floral co-ordinator Moira Gregg said: "It is very sad, but the reality is that we can't work together to prepare the displays in the way we usually would.

"For the first time this year we have been experimenting with growing some of our own plants using the begonia tubers from last year - while they have not all worked, we have had some success with this.

"We will have a display of sorts, it will just not be as extensive as it usually is."

Formartine Rural Partnership have also confirmed that they will not be running the annual Beginning To Blossom and Formartine In Bloom competitions this year as a result of the restrictions placed on the groups which usually enter.

Formartine In Bloom has seen communities going head to head for 15 years while Beginning To Blossom has seen pupils take the reins of implementing nature into their learning for 10 years.

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