A University success story – Aberystwyth University

Wildflower Turf has been receiving a great deal of interest from Universities in recent months.  In May our MD James Hewetson-Brown was a key note speaker at the University Horticultural Officers Conference at Heriot Watt University http://bit.ly/2rlGmEd. However prior to this we have this great example…

In December 2015, Paul Evans, Head Gardener at Aberystwyth University placed an order for 476m² of Wildflower Border Non Native Turf http://bit.ly/2pTM0K6 which was delivered and installed in November 2016.

Paul has kindly shared with us images which show the story of his team completing the ground preparation i.e. ground clearance and then installation of bulbs from our bulb supplier, Jub Holland Bulbs http://bit.ly/2rhV3Zj before laying our Wildflower Border Non Native turf on top and giving it a good water in.  Underplanting Wildflower Turf with bulbs can extend the flowering season, creating more colour and interest when the turf is fairly dormant and encouraging with public engagement over the year http://bit.ly/2pU2m5j. The turf typically takes over from the bulbs when it flowers from May to September.

Site Clearance

October 2016 – Shrubs encroaching on path making pathway narrow and preventing light from the building above from shining onto the path below.

Staff clearing shrubs approx. 3 metres up the bank, mini digger taking shrub roots out and new LED lamp posts have been installed.

Bulb Installation

Crates of spring display bulbs from Jub Holland spread along bank.

Bulbs scattered onto the bank

Wildflower Turf Installation

November 2016 – Laying the Wildflower Turf and an irregular strip of ordinary turf along the bottom that would provide a strip of lower grass next to the path to avoid any damage to the Wildflower Turf from anyone that strayed from the path and gave a good delineation to the Wildflower Turf for design purposes

Flowering display

February 2017 – Some flowers have been flowering in the winter, daisies and crocus are starting to appear.

Early March 2017 – Bulbs are really starting to emerge.

Mid March 2017 – Lovely coverage of flowers.

End of March 2017 – Lots of variety and colour

End of March 2017 – Great display from the bulbs

Early April 2017 – A much lighter and brighter view down the road from what was there before.

Mid April 2017 – The bulbs and the wildflowers blend perfectly to give a colourful display.

End of April 2017 – The wildflowers start to emerge.

Early May 2017 – Great display of biodiversity and colour

Early May 2017 – We look forward to seeing this site develop over the coming season.

Results to date

The turf was laid in a prominent situation on the main drive to the main campus at Aberystwyth University and it has proven to be a huge hit with the public and students entering and exiting the campus.

I don’t think a day has gone by without someone remarking how good it is looking, it has surpassed what we thought it would look like!”  Paul Evans, Head Gardener

 

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Does Glyphosate destroy or enhance the natural environment

THE RECENT PUBLICITY AROUND THE USE OF GLYPHOSATE HAS LED TO CONSIDERABLE PRESS COVERAGE AND DEBATE OVER THE USE OF CHEMICALS AND THEIR PLACE IN OUR TOWNS AND COUNTRYSIDE. OUR MD JAMES HEWETSON-BROWN LOOKS AT GLYPHOSATE WITH WILDFLOWERS, BIODIVERSITY AND WILDLIFE IN MIND.

The Glyphosate question

Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup (the most common of many brand/trade names) has been in the spotlight for the last few years and is due for ‘reauthorisation’. The reauthorisation process involves reassessment of the safety issues surrounding the use of the chemical by the European Chemicals Agency and their recommendation is taken into account by the European Commission.

In advance of the vote, one recent study by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that Glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and this alarming report has led to a great deal of press coverage about the pros and cons of glyphosate together with the wider use of chemicals in the UK.

Other reports such as those from the World Health Organisation and the European Food Safety Authority say that Glyphosate is safe to use.

Glyphosate – getting the balance right for nature

With a background in farming as well as a profound love for wildflower environments, I do see the benefits of Glyphosate use and yet can understand the concerns of those who worry about the potential long term harmful effects Glyphosate may bring. At Wildflower Turf Ltd we advocate the use of Glyphosate (applied strictly to manufacturer’s recommendations) for the preparation of areas using our Wildflower Earth product.

The application of Glyphosate creates an initial weed-free environment where wild flowers can thrive. My experience in cultivating wild flowers has taught me that they are not easy to establish for many reasons. Some conditions will suit them and they can establish with little or no effort, but these conditions are rare! In order to maintain and improve this species rich, biodiverse habitat and the resulting benefits to wildlife, wildflowers need our help. To create long term biodiverse habitats using our popular Wildflower Earth, we recommend the application of Glyphosate prior to laying the growing medium to create the ideal conditions for growth.

Using establishment methods that are tried and tested will ensure their success. There is a great deal of interest in maintaining and developing wildflowers. The demand for wildflower seed and Wildflower Turf has never been higher but there is a risk that if results disappoint, and developing these biodiverse areas becomes difficult, this interest will wane. We have concluded that the potential negative effects of an application of Glyphosate are far outweighed by the many years of biodiversity a well-established wildflower area will produce.

As with many other sustainability issues we face, humans are confronted with identifying the correct level of ‘intervention’ in natural systems that create a long term, healthy environment which we can all enjoy.

Glyphosate efficiency

There is no doubt that if you are a green plant then Glyphosate is a very efficient killer! However carefully it is applied, if you walk on it and forget to choose your route back, you can find neat footprints of dead grass across the lawn where the residue on your feet has done its job! Similarly, spraying it on a breezy day means any spray drift that lands on green plants will lead to their swift demise.

It has been suggested that the harmful effects of Glyphosate go beyond green plants. Glyphosate has been accused of killing butterflies and bees, yet there is very little scientific evidence to support this. Glyphosate will kill the habitat that supports the butterflies and bees without doubt, and with no suitable habitat the bees and butterflies will perish. But is this an issue to do with the user’s application of the chemical, or a fundamental problem with Glyphosate itself?

Careful use of Glyphosate applied according to the manufacturer recommendation provides a means to an end for wildflower establishment

Earth Application

Take care to apply Glyphosate accurately – spot the deliberate mistake here!

Alternative Chemical Weed Control

There are a number of chemicals that will do a similar job to Glyphosate, but too many to name or list here. However, there are few that have been around for as long as glyphosate’s 42 years of use. Not many alternatives have this track record and ignoring this history shouldn’t be a hasty decision given the findings of most regulatory bodies. The diesel saga is an illustration that sometimes single issue ideals – for all the right reasons – can lead to greater problems rather than being the panacea that leads to positive change.

Alternative Non-Chemical Weed Control

With the worry that Glyphosate is unsafe, has come a number of alternative weed control methods where chemicals are not involved. These are widely promoted on line, from electric lances and steam treatments to burners and weed suppression mats.

From a wildflower establishment position, one of the best chemical free options is the use of a turf cutting machine. Existing plant material is completely removed to make way for the wildflowers. These machines can be hired and are easy to operate, especially in stone free soil and on an existing lawn or grass sward. Once the plant material is removed a more standard approach to seeding or turfing can be used. The downside is the user is left with a lot of residual turf to get rid of and this will add to the cost as well as the carbon and health impacts of fuel used to power the machine.

At Wildflower Turf we do not recommend any of these because most require repeated treatments and take a long time to either apply – electric lances and burners – or to work – weed suppression mats. In a commercial production system Glyphosate is still the most successful alternative in delivering a balance between chemical use and long term biodiversity gains.

An alternative to using Glyphosate – use an electric hand lance.

One alternative available to farmers will be the widespread return to ploughing. Large areas of ploughing is used relatively little now a days as it is time consuming and uses a great deal of diesel (and emissions). Glyphosate and the use of less power hungry machines has superseded this crop establishment technique. ‘Minimum tillage’ and ‘no till’ systems rely on Glyphosate to clear the soil of plants to give a competitive start for the new crop. These systems are less aggressive to soil and soil structure. Studies have shown there are 53% more earthworms in no plough agricultural systems. However, as a way of removing green cover, landscapers can follow the principle of ploughing using heavy cultivation tools. But it is not enough to only rotovate the surface. This will simply chop up the green cover but does not invert it. Without Glyphosate or some form of weed control these plants will need to be properly inverted in order to stop them re-growing and competing with the establishment of the desired new seed.

Removing the top layer of plant material is a chemical free way to leave a surface that is ready to establish wildflowers.

Quote – “ONCE ESTABLISHED, NATIVE WILDFLOWERS WILL PROVIDE LONG TERM FLORA AND FAUNA WITHOUT THE NEED FOR ANY CHEMICALS”

 In Summary

Glyphosate is a means to an end. Use it correctly (according to the manufacturer’s advice, in optimum weather conditions and applied accurately to cover the WHOLE of the target area) and it will significantly help with the establishment of wildflowers. If used correctly, you should end up with a healthy and well established meadow and there will be no need to use glyphosate on the area again. We have a meadow that is now in its 14th year and we used glyphosate at the start but have not used it in this area since. The end result has been a biodiverse habitat that supports all sorts of flora and fauna.

Remember for a wildflower space to really work it has to establish well. If it doesn’t establish well, the chances are it will get taken over by weeds and grasses. Where this happens, the likelihood is that those responsible for the area will give up on it and find an alternative. This alternative will most probably be a regularly mown grass area and biodiversity and wildlife will be the worse for it.

Get wildflowers right and they offer a long term option that greatly improves biodiversity, colour, habitats for wildlife, drought tolerance, and a number of other solutions for Urban Greening and Green Infrastructure.

Get establishment right and a wildflower space is assured for many years, without the need for another chemical application.

If in the future, Glyphosate is proved to be dangerous and it is not reauthorised for use, there are alternative ways of establishing wildflowers. But for now it remains the most cost effective and efficient option and a valuable tool for landscape professionals.

For further details on creating a successful wildflower meadow and ongoing maintenance please refer to How to make a Wildflower Meadow

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Pollution Mitigation

Urban Wildflowers

Our MD James Hewetson-Brown explains the power of wildflowers when used in urban environments and their importance in green infrastructure design.

Quote – “WILDFLOWERS CAN PHYSICALLY LOCK IN HARMFUL PARTICULATES FROM EXHAUST EMISSIONS”

Wildflower meadows have continued to rise in popularity as more and more people become aware of the state of nature in the UK and the effect habitat loss is having on our wildlife.

There are few better opportunities for introducing a brand new wildflower meadow than in an urban environment.

For a wildflower space to really work it has to benefit people as well as wildlife. And any benefit must earn its keep. Providing pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies in an urban setting is highly laudable, but wildflowers offer many more opportunities than insect food alone. So in no particular order, here are some reasons for a landscape architect to include wildflowers in a design.

  1. Aberfeldy Village, East London – Levitt Bernstein Landscape Architects. Use wildflowers for SUDS as they are tolerant of pollution and keep maintenance costs down.

Pollution Mitigation

Recent work in the US and more locally at Portsmouth University, has demonstrated the benefit wildflowers can bring to limiting the effect that vehicle pollution has on people’s health. The morphology (plant structure) of a number of wildflower species has shown to physically lock up some of the really harmful PM2.5 particulates. By establishing wildflowers on the verge of a road, they forma physical barrier or net as close to the source of the pollution as is possible. This will form the first line of defence in what has become a serious health hazard.

2.Town centre garden, Shenley Road, Borehamwood – Hertsmere Borough Council.

Water Management

SUDS or Sustainable Drainage Systems is a way of managing the effects of heavy rainfall and the potential for flooding. It has become critical that plans to dissipate and filter water are built in to any new development. This water can be contaminated due to oil and chemicals lifted by heavy rainfall. Drainage ditches must be constructed of free draining material to be able to cope with heavy rainfall events. Therefore if it doesn’t rain, these ditches can become very dry. Plants that can cope with all of the above are limited, but wildflowers, once properly established, are remarkably tolerant and can deal with drought, pollution and erosion better than most. In fact they often thrive in harsh conditions.

Biodiversity

Last but by no means least, enhancing biodiversity is a requirement for most developments. Including a species rich habitat in the plans will give a boost to nature. The greater the number of plant species in a given area, the greater the opportunity for wildlife. Avoid monocultures where possible, as a variety of plants offers different food sources and leads to insect diversity. In turn this provides food for other wildlife from newts to field voles and expect to see predators from slow worms to birds of prey. Green Infrastructure can sustain food chains. Species diversity in GI will help make that chain long, varied and more resilient.

In Summary

There are potential pitfalls with wildflowers, and one of the big ones is the inclusion of too many varieties of, and too much grass. There are myths too – the need to remove soil and zero fertiliser are among these. An understanding of what is practical and what is achievable is essential. Confidence at the specification stage is as important as risk free establishment and we at Wildflower Turf Ltd do our best to help landscape professionals with these.

But get wildflowers right and they are truly a solution that keeps on giving!

 

 

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Save The Date

With Spring in the air (we can dream), February is a great time to focus on the year ahead and give your diary some love.

We’ve put together a round-up of the RHS Shows, key Horticultural Exhibitions we will be attending if you want to come and see us, and dates for our Accreditation Training and Open Days in 2017. Take a look and save the date!

RHS Shows

RHS Flower Show Cardiff  (7th – 9th April)

The first major outdoor show of the year is Cardiff. Held in Bute Park, celebrate the best of Springtime with inspiring gardens, demonstrations and talks.

Book here: http://bit.ly/2l3c7f4

RHS Malvern Spring Festival  (11th – 14th May)

Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Malvern Hills, The Showground is the venue for this festival of Spring, with much to inspire and enthuse.

 Book here: http://bit.ly/2l38ohr

 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show  (23rd -27th May)

Experience cutting-edge design and visionary gardens at this prestigious event. Showcasing the best in garden design and innovation, this year’s show will feature nine Show Gardens, five Fresh Gardens, nine Artisan Gardens and more than 100 floral displays.

 Book here: http://bit.ly/2l3gVRJ

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show  (7th – 11th June)

Set in the rolling Derbyshire landscape designed by Capability Brown, this exciting new show for 2017 will pay homage to the creative genius of gardeners and garden designers from the past while also celebrating the talented ideas and conceptual thinking of today’s generation of designers.

Book here: http://bit.ly/2l31DMS

 

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show  (4th– 9th July)

The world’s biggest annual flower show, this year’s offering promises to be bigger and better, bursting with horticultural treats. Be inspired by world-class Show Gardens including Conceptual and World Gardens. New for 2017, Gardens for a Changing World will explore the need to adapt our gardens for the future.

Book here: http://bit.ly/2l3dp9G

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park  (19th – 23rd July)

Set in magnificent parklands, the North’s greatest gardening event also plays host to the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition.

Book here: http://bit.ly/2l38vd1

 

RHS Malvern Autumn Show  (23rd – 24th September)

Celebrate the best of seasonal food and gardening this Autumn, with gardening, growing and cookery advice.

Tickets yet to be released.

Horticultural Exhibitions

So many events and exhibitions, so little time! Come and say hello to the Wildflower Turf team at the following exhibitions this year.

Regen

St George’s Hall, Liverpool  (22nd – 23rd March)

The industry’s leading forum for the UK Regeneration industry, Regen 2017 will bring together policy experts, case-studies and industry leaders. Now in its 3rd year, this free-to-attend Exhibition, Conference and Networking Event addresses the latest issues in urban and rural regeneration, and policy and implementation.

Come and see us at stand A8 and take a look at our fantastic bee box showcasing our Wildflower Turf with live bumblebees!

For further information and to register, visit: http://www.regen2017.co.uk/

Futurescape

Sandown Park Racecourse, Surrey  (14th November)

The leading landscaping show in the UK, this event is a must for landscapers, designers and architects. With an exciting new seminar programme planned, visitors can expect a day filled with top business tips from key industry speakers plus lively debates with industry-leading personalities. Tickets are free of charge. For further updates, follow @FutureScapeUK or visit http://futurescapeevent.com/

 

 Wildflower Turf – Accreditation Days & Open Days

With our training days taking place in both our Hampshire HQ and our brand-new Yorkshire site this year, there’s never been a better time to enhance your wildflower know-how and benefit from discounted trade prices too!

 Training Days

As pioneers of Wildflower Turf and being the leading supplier of wildflower products in the market, we’ve packaged up our many years of expertise into an engaging, practical training programme. Covering all the core aspects of wildflower installation and maintenance techniques, we will add insight into choosing wildflowers for a particular site or design, assessment of site conditions, layout, supply, logistics and post installation troubleshooting.

Hampshire Training Dates

Accreditation Training – Friday, 19th May

Accreditation Training – Friday, 26th May

Accreditation Plus Day – Thursday, 13th July

Council Training Day – Friday, 15th September

Yorkshire Training Dates

Accreditation Training – Friday, 12th May

Accreditation Training – Friday, 1st September

  

 Open Days

This year we’re running two half day Open Days at our farm near Basingstoke, Hampshire. Past attendees have found our wildflower workshops incredibly useful, and this is a great opportunity to visit us and have your questions answered by our team of wildflower experts.

Open Day for Council + Landscape Architects > Friday, 7th July

Open Day for Garden Designers + General Public > Thursday, 20th July

 For further information on either our Accredited Training or our Open Days, or to book onto your preferred date, please contact us on 01256 771 222 or email wildflower@wildflowerturf.co.uk.

 

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Twelve Days of Christmas Gifting – Part Two

Part Two of our festive gift-giving guide has arrived. After a brief mince pie break, we’ve checked our list twice and have come up with a list of inspired presents, from stocking fillers to, umm, a scythe.

Read on for some more festive inspiration….

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Tickets

The world’s most prestigious flower show will once again be showcasing the best in garden landscape and design in May 2017. Featuring Show Gardens, Fresh Gardens, and Artisan Gardens as well as glorious floral and horticultural displays, there is plenty of inspiration of offer. Tickets are already on sale but are selling fast.

rhs

Wildflower Turf

What to get for that person with everything? What about their own wildflower meadow? Create a stunning, low maintenance wildflower meadow that flowers from early Spring to mid-Autumn using Wildflower Turf. Providing a constantly changing landscape the seed mix has been chosen to give a high proportion of wildflowers as well as grasses, and this beautiful and biodiverse gift option is also a natural haven for bees.

wildflower-turf

Wildflower Identification Guide

Wondering what that species is in your newly established Wildflower Turf meadow? Well wonder no more with this definitive reference book. Collins Wild Flower Guide features all flowering plants, and this fully revised and updated field guide to the wild flowers of Britain and northern Europe is the most complete illustrated, single-volume guide ever published.

book

Darwin Escapes Luxury Holiday

Beat the queue and book an early-bird luxury break at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat in the Lake District. Due to open in January 2017, this stunning holiday resort features full self-catering facilities, dog-friendly accommodation, outdoor hot tubs and 23,000m² of our turf! What’s not to love?

keswick-reach-lake-1500x788

Open Spaces Gift Membership

The Open Spaces Society is Britain’s oldest national conservation body and works to safeguard green and open spaces for future generations. Society membership is now available to gift, with the recipient receiving a gift voucher, a year’s subscription to include three copies of the Open Space magazine, and access to all the benefits of membership.

gift-voucher

Scythe

Oh go on then! We have it on good authority that this beauty will keep you out of trouble and will help you on your way to a perfect Poldark body. If you need further evidence the hand-forged Austrian blade and aluminium handle should convince you. Get in before the stampede starts.

scythe

And on that note we’d like to wish everyone a wonderful Merry Christmas, may your mince pies be fruitful and your gifts green-fingered. We’ll be back on the blog in January, but until then enjoy the festive season!

 

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Twelve Days of Christmas Gifting – Part One

It’s been a busy year and Christmas is just around the corner. The High Street is packed and sleigh bells are ringing but if gift-giving inspiration is proving elusive then you’re not alone. But never fear as the Wildflower Turf team have hand-picked the perfect list of potential presents for you to peruse.

From books to bee hotels we’ve got Christmas all wrapped up!

‘How To Make A Wildflower Meadow’ Reference Guide

Written by our very-own James Hewetson-Brown, this is the definitive guide to everything you need to know about establishing a wildflower meadow. Filled with case studies this pragmatic guide will provide you with everything you need to grow and maintain a beautiful flowering meadow.

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The Hive @ Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

This year Wildflower Turf partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to bring The Hive installation to life. Visitors to the attraction make their way through our lush and healthy wildflower meadow before entering the incredible 17 metre high structure that transports visitors to life inside a bee colony. This has to bee seen to be bee-lieved and entry to The Hive is included with Kew Garden Day Admission tickets.

pan-sunrise-kew

Wildlife In Focus Calendar 2017

The 2017 Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Calendar has been created using stunning photographic images submitted by members of the public. All the images show the beautiful wildlife and stunning landscapes that can be seen across Hampshire & the Isle of Wight with 100% of calendar sale proceeds going to support the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

2017-wildlife-in-focus-charity-calendar-hampshire

Profihopper

All I (really) want for Christmas is a profihopper. The Amazone PH125 will do the job nicely, giving excellent results, and is perfect for mowing and scarifying parks, playgrounds, residential areas and environmental areas. With a unique collecting and compacting system this profihopper is perfectly suited for the care of all green spaces.

profihopper-1024x656

Raw Wildflower Honey

If all that mowing is making you hungry then look no further than Silver Frame’s raw wildflower honey. Medium sweet in taste and rich in antioxidants, a mere two spoonful’s a day is all it will take to help to build up pollen tolerance. It’s also quite tasty on toast.

raw_honey

Wildflower Turf Bee Hotel

On the subject of honey, bees play an incredibly important role in pollination and ensuring ecosystem equilibrium, but the number of bees in the UK is in decline. Our Bee Hotel is the perfect present for any nature lover, wildflower grower, fruit tree obsessive or anyone that wants to do their bit for bees.

bee_hotel_4

Feeling inspired or have your own unique gift ideas? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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A Hive Of Activity

Back in June we posted news that Wildflower Turf were proudly involved in the magnificent installation that is The Hive. And we’re thrilled to announce that the project has recently been shortlisted  in the ‘Design for a Temporary Landscape’ category at the prestigious Landscape Institute Awards.

So what’s the buzz on The Hive? Situated in Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, The Hive is a 17-metre-high aluminium latticed structure that aims to raise awareness of the rapid decline of the world’s bee population.

Visitors to The Hive are first met with a lush and healthy wildflower meadow grown and supplied by Wildflower Turf Ltd. The link between the value of wildflower meadows in providing a haven for pollinators cannot be underestimated, and meadows play a vital part in supporting the ecosystem of bees.

To achieve the attractive, natural entrance to The Hive, both Landscape Turf and Border Turf were utilised within the surrounding garden, with a mix of non-native and native perennial wildflowers adding to the array of colour and biodiversity. If you visit now, however, you will see the wildflowers are at the end of their growing season and are soon to be cut down and removed, in readiness to over-winter.

pan-sunrise-kew

Once inside The Hive, the multi-sensory elements of the incredible structure create an insight into life inside a bee colony. Hundreds of LED lights glow and fade while buzzes and hums emanate. The experience is further enriched as the intensity of the light and sound experience alters based on the activity of a real, behind-the-scenes bee-hive at Kew. The linked bee-hive contains 40,000 bees, and the experience of sharing their hive is one not to be missed.

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With EU research revealing that 29% of British honey bee colonies died in the 2012/13 winter alone, this initiative to raise the profile of the importance of pollinators to our future food security is a tangible and powerful piece of messaging.

DEFRA’s National Pollinator Strategy recommend the following steps as a means of utilising Wildflowers to help to halt the decline of bee populations.

  • Plant for pollinators. Grow more native, nectar and pollen rich flowers, shrubs and trees.
  • Leave patches of your garden to grow wild and leave some areas undisturbed as much as possible to allow for insect nests and hibernation spots.
  • Cut grass less often and if possible remove the cuttings after you mow longer grass to allow plants to flower.

The Hive will remain a key feature at Kew until the end of 2017 and we hope that this amazing initiative will inspire more people to support our pollinators and consider adding wildflowers to their gardens and land.

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Best Practice Tips for Cutting a Wildflower Meadow

Wildflower Turf meadows require minimal maintenance. However, every Autumn your meadow will require a little attention and September and October is the ideal time to carry out the task of cutting if you have not already done so.

No two meadows will grow in exactly the same way or even at the same rate, with the mix of flowers and grasses that flourish varying year-on-year. This year we’ve seen the second warmest September since 1910, with temperatures above the seasonal average and sporadic rainfall meaning that some meadows may have accelerated their life cycle and gone to seed quicker, whilst others may have had an extended flowering season. So how best to cut?

profihopper-1024x656

Cutting can be achieved by either using a manual or powered scythe, hedge trimmer or strimmer and raking the clippings off to compost, or by using a flail mower such as a Profihopper and collecting the cuttings as you go. Once you have cut the tall, woody material, a good rotary mower on a high setting can be used to go over the area again to neaten it up and collect the final cuttings. Whichever method you choose, make sure the tools are sharp or use tools that have reciprocating blades to get an efficient clean cut and reduce the need to go over the same areas multiple times. Cutting the plants back to 1 to 2 inches (25mm to 50mm) in length is a vital part of their life-cycle and ensures that re-growth will continue year on year. The most important part of this maintenance cut is to make sure you take all of the clippings away. In order to control grasses in your meadow, nutrient depletion is vital and any rotting material left on the meadow will only enrich the soil.

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If you have not already done so, the cutting of your meadow should ideally take place when the wildflowers have set and shed their seed. Not only does this tidy up the area for the onset of winter but it stops the senesced summer growth from covering the growing plant in a layer of rotting plant material. An open sward over the winter ensures healthy, disease free plants which can benefit from what light is available to them during these months.

When you do decide to give your meadow its annual cut, it is always advisable to choose a dry day to cut the meadow back. Dry cuttings are easier and cleaner to handle. You may find that your meadow starts to grow again. This is because some species will be quick to utilise any freshly created space, thus taking advantage of the new opportunity that they have been given. Most notably the species that you will probably see are plantain, campion, wild carrot, yarrow, sorrel, ox-eye, as well as some grasses. This is absolutely fine, as it is the last chance the meadow has to green-up ready for the winter when it will go dormant.

If you have a larger sized meadow, it is preferable to cut in stages to be kinder to the wildlife and allow any mammals or insects to translocate, leaving a neighbouring strip that is left for a month or so longer before cutting.

As Spring approaches, the wildflowers and grasses will be in the perfect position to develop flowers and seed heads quickly to repeat their perennial cycle, thus guaranteeing a wildflower meadow year after year.

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Young Designer Wins with Wildflowers

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Caitlin McLaughlin, of Thrift Landscapes Garden Design, was recently awarded the RHS Young Designer of the Year Award and a Gold Award at RHS Tatton Park for her Nature & Nurture Garden. Built by Foxcroft Landscapes, the garden represents an urban nature reserve, creating a tranquil setting and giving the opportunity to relax in the city, emphasising the benefits of green spaces to human health and well-being.

The Nature & Nurture Garden is split into two recognisable parts. The hectic lifestyle that many experience living in cities is represented by the large beds of wildflowers surrounding the garden. Whereas the second section provides a calming, serene atmosphere, intended to block out the buzz of city life. This area leads across a shallow pond to a soothing seating area, situated on an island.

The thought-provoking garden was inspired by the hedgerows and wildflower meadows across the UK. The native wildflowers in the garden enhance biodiversity and are important for pollinators, as wildlife habitats, and for food security. The Nature & Nurture Garden proves that urban settings can be combined with rural environments, making it beneficial for nature and improving human health and well-being.

Caitlin was lucky enough to be sponsored by Global Stone, Stone Warehouse, Shrigley Hall Hotel, Rectory Garden Plants and Oxford Oak, who produced the remarkable benches. The Nature & Nurture Garden is planned to be moved shortly to St. Barnabas Hospice in Lincolnshire as a memorial garden. She said that “the RHS Young Designer of the Year Award came as a bit of a surprise, but I was completely over the moon”.

Congratulations to Caitlin McLaughlin on her award-winning garden. With such creativity and flair, she is sure to go far!

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Wildflowers Win over Judges at Hampton Court

Last week, the world’s largest annual flower show brought a burst of colour and vibrancy to Hampton Court Palace. RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, supported by Viking Cruises, was in full swing with various Show Gardens, the Rose Marquee, Floral Marquee, plant pavilions, and a variety of talks, presentations and exhibits. Wildflower Turf was featured in some of these beautiful Gardens, a few of which were presented Gold Awards.

The Viking Cruises Scandinavian Garden (Water Garden)

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The award-winning Viking Cruises Scandinavian Garden was designed by Stephen Hall, and built by JDC Gardens. Sponsored by The Viking Cruises, the garden was inspired by the wild, natural beauty of the company’s heritage. A rowing boat beckons you across the water and nature is ever present in the form of sedges, ferns and grasses, while native trees and shrubs provide the backdrop. The Wildflower Turf covering the humble house exaggerates the wonderfully wild bio-diverse habitat.

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Zoflora: Outstanding Natural Beauty (Show Garden)

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Zoflora: Outstanding Natural Beauty, designed by Helen Elks-Smith and built by Wycliffe Landscapes, really does live up to its name. The garden, sponsored by Zoflora, was inspired by the patterns of Yorkshire; dry stone walls define a linear landscape of pastures and meadows, contrasting with gently curving waterflows. The wildflower meadow moves through the garden, meeting the back of the seating area’s enclosing dry stone wall. This beautiful garden was also awarded Best Construction Award, in addition to Gold.

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UNHCR: ‘Border Control’ Garden (Conceptual Garden)

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The Border Control Garden, designed by Tom Massey and John Ward, and built by Landform Consultants, highlights the plight of refugees and the risks many take to find shelter. This thought-provoking garden, sponsored by UNHCR, won Best Conceptual Garden, in addition to a Gold Award. Wildflower Border Turf is surrounded by a moat, razor wire fence and a tightly controlled gateway, signifying the struggles of reaching safety.

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Shropshire Lavender: The Lavender Garden (Summer Garden)

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Designed by Paula Napper, Sara Warren and Donna King. The Lavender Garden is inspired by the scent, colour and romance of lavenders grown at a dairy farm on the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. The circular walkway leads to a hut, and a sunken area gives the opportunity to take in the atmosphere, providing rehabilitation to the senses. This sensuous garden, which was built by Burnham Landscaping and sponsored by Shropshire Lavender, was another Gold Award winner to use Wildflower Turf.

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Congratulations to everyone involved in this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. 

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