GRASS and shrubs will replace the city's traditional summer hanging basket display next week.

The decision to scrap the hanging baskets and Gilbert the dragon, which had a budget of £30k last year, was part of the Salisbury City Council's money-saving strategy.

Councillors also wanted to cut down on water usage as workers were watering the plants three to four times every week.

The revamped selection of shrubs, grasses, trailing plants and herbs must be watered just once a week instead which should conserve water and allow for "more efficient resource allocation".

Living towers will replace traditional hanging baskets, offering a "modern and space-efficient alternative while maximising plant diversity", according to the council.

These displays do not require annual replacement and will be launched on Monday, May 20.

Salisbury Journal: Gilbert the dragon was discarded after being displayed in Salisbury for 24 years.Gilbert the dragon was discarded after being displayed in Salisbury for 24 years. (Image: Newsquest)

A ‘pocket park’ will also be introduced to Market Square, providing a serene space for people to immerse themselves in nature.

Situated among greenery, the council claims the park will offer a tranquil retreat to "unwind and connect with the natural world".

Sustainability is a key focus of Salisbury City Council, which declared a 'climate emergency' in 2019.

The planters in the pocket part are made from recycled materials which should ensure longevity and minimise waste.

Read more: ​Salisbury City Council vote to scrap traditional hanging baskets

Councillor John Wells, chair of the environment and climate committee, said: “We are thrilled to introduce these sustainable enhancements to our planting.

"By transitioning to plants that do not need frequent replacement, we not only promote environmental stewardship but also ensure long-term cost savings on maintenance for the council.

"Our aim is to create a vibrant ecosystem that not only beautifies our city but also serves as a haven for pollinators and other creatures."

Binning the baskets was not a decision taken lightly by a former Conservative cllr who said the council leaders were "seemingly completely content with destroying the city centre to meet their own egotistical agenda".

In a video posted on social media, a furious Miss Wills said the council should "leave the hanging baskets alone" and "stop promoting nonsense which pushes visitors and residents alike away".

The story took off and in response to the fallout, Independent Cllr Annie Riddle, a member of the leadership group, criticised Miss Wills for holding councillors and officers up to ridicule in the national press.

Despite the in-fighting, which also involved the new Mayor of Salisbury Cllr Sven Hocking, the plans to scrap the baskets for living pillars went ahead.