Someone has planted marigolds in Masterton’s northern flowerbeds after the district council halted planting this summer to save water. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

HAYLEY GASTMEIER

hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Someone in Masterton has taken the northern traffic island flower debacle into their own hands, jazzing up the bland dirt patch with a few rows of marigolds.

The mysterious planter struck overnight on Thursday, and now other people are talking about a midnight working bee to bring colour back to the town entrance.

The site was left bare after Masterton District Council [MDC] decided to hold back on planting thirsty flowers over the summer period to save on watering.

A council meeting earlier this month heard how the brightly-coloured bedding plants used the equivalent of 100 baths full of water every week during summer.

MDC wanted to show leadership on the issue of water conservation.

This time last year, central Wairarapa was in severe drought, and water restrictions were in place.

However, this month has been unseasonably wet, with more rain recorded in Masterton than the previous two Decembers combined.

Residents, visitors, and councillors alike have voiced frustration over the demise of the cheerful flower beds that once welcomed people to Masterton, which was named most beautiful city of 2017.

MDC infrastructural services committee chairman Gary Caffell said it was ironic that the first December the flowerbeds had been left bare to save water, was a month that had featured frequent heavy downpours.

Metservice says Masterton has seen 120mm of rainfall so far this December.

Whereas 49mm of rain fell in December 2017, and just 38mm the same month in 2016.

Caffell said it was clear that people were “agitated” and missing the pansies, and he hoped the council would resolve the matter in the New Year.

He was in two minds about the surprise marigolds planted on either side of the pedestrian crossing.

“As a supporter of the plants I’m delighted to see flowers in there again.

“But on the other hand, it’s quite a dangerous place to take the traffic on … I’d hate to see anybody bowled over.”

He urged pedestrians to be careful on the busy road.

According to Metservice, Masterton has had 13 ‘wet’ days (more than 1mm of rain) and seven ‘very wet’ days (5mm or more rainfall) this month.