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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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Gardeners’ World Live

Over the weekend, hundreds of keen gardeners filled the NEC in Birmingham to hear from experts, browse exhibitors stalls and take inspiration from a number of superb show gardens. Wildflower Turf were delighted to supply turf to a few of the award-winning designers; Mosaic Design, The Gardenmakers and Halcyon Days.

Owen Morgan, of Mosaic Design, was awarded Best Show Garden and a Gold Award for the Health for Life Community Garden. The Show Garden supports the Health for Life programme, celebrating the use of community gardening as a device to engage with wider social issues. Funded by the Mondel?z International Foundation and delivered by TCV, the Health for Life in the community programme started in 2012 and has created fifteen community food growing spaces in south Birmingham involving 3,000 volunteers so far.

Health For Life Community Garden designed by Owen Morgan

Health For Life Community Garden designed by Owen Morgan

Not only did the Health for Life Community Garden look spectacular, it also hosted a range of fun activities for visitors to enjoy. They held live performances and children could partake in seed mat planting and healthy eating activities, promoting healthy lifestyles for the Health for Life programme.

UntitledIn conjunction with the Gardenmakers of Warwickshire, Claudia de Yong won the People’s Choice Award and a Silver Merit for creating a small, natural oasis in the heart of a city environment. Claudia de Yong is known for creating ‘romantic’ gardens and landscapes, and uses the finest materials and carefully chosen plants. The garden features a curved brick path, leading to a small shed housing gardening essentials. Claudia’s deep love for traditional crafts inspired the urban haven, which features a bespoke ‘insect hotel’, a small potager for vegetables, a beehive and fruit trees. A wildflower meadow supplied by Wildflower Turf gives the garden a sense of tranquility and thrives with colour.

Owen Morgan and Claudia de Yong weren’t the only award winners of Gardeners’ WorlLegacyd Live to use Wildflower Turf, Andy Tudbury of Halcyon Garden Design was awarded Bronze for the Show Garden Legacy. Designed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Geoff Hamilton’s death, the boardwalk goes over a shallow gravel pool between two raised beds planted with Geoff Hamilton roses. Recycled plants and materials were used in creating the memorable show garden, for instance, the boardwalk is made from scaffold boards. A mass bed of cottage style planting is located to the right, with a striking wildflower meadow to the left.

Check out the Gardeners’ World Live website to see the highlights.

 

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A Journey into The Hive

 

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Standing under the 17-metre-high aluminum installation, The Hive displayed at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens is more than just a sight to be seen. Created by Wolfgang Buttress, Simmonds Studio and BDP, The Hive is a feat of British engineering and formed the centerpiece of the UK Pavilion at 2015 Milan Expo. Wolfgang was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Bencsik of Nottingham Trent University to design the glorious latticed structure.

Besides looking incredible, The Hive raises awareness of the steep decline of bees. EU research revealed that 29% of British honey bee colonies died in the 2012/13 winter alone. Pollinating insects are the secret heroes of agriculture and the structure highlights the importance of pollinators to our future food security.

Visitors are drawn into The Hive via a lush and vibrant wildflower meadow that Wildflower Turf Ltd were delighted to grow for the prestigious project. A mix of Landscape Turf and Border Turf were used within the surrounding garden, with a mix of bright annuals and native perennial wildflowers.

The multi-sensory elements of The Hive create an insight into life inside a bee colony. Not only will you hear buzzes and hums around you, hundreds of LED lights glow and fade. The intensity of the light and sound changes as the energy levels in the real beehive serge, creating a sensuous experience.

The Hive opens to the public on 18 June 2016. It will remain a feature in the Gardens through to the end of 2017.

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Looking After Your Wildflower Meadow This Summer

This blog will take you through the steps of maintaining a wonderful wildflower meadow over the summer months. If you are keen to find out even more about Wildflower Turf, look out for our book which will be published later on this year.

A single end of season cut is essential, however, you may feel one of the below mid-season cuts is appropriate.

Summer Cut – Suitable for Rapidly Growing Meadows

This maintenance cut is a little bit of a leap of faith as the meadow may well be looking at its best right now. Cutting with a strimmer with a hedge trimmer attachment is the perfect type of tool to use taking the top layer off, to a height of 20-30cms. The purpose of the cut is to take off a large proportion of the young green material that has not experienced leaf shatter – a very effective way of depleting nutrients. You will see plenty of flowering buds under this level and the flowers will be quick to re-establish. You must be quite sensitive when forking off the material from the meadow, raking is not advised for clearance. With this cut, you will definitely lengthen the flowering period of the meadow, whilst improving the flower to grass ratio for the following season.

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A result of high fertility or too much water during the establishment phase.

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Clearing away the cutting on any cut is vital to deplete nutrient levels.

Late Summer Cut – Scruffy Meadows/Drought Years

In some people’s eyes, senesced growth (browning vegetation and seed heads) can look scruffy. A cut at this time of year can tidy up the whole area. It will be of great benefit to the late flowering species within the meadow such as toad flax, mallow, yarrow, vetch, clover and scabious. Take the browning vegetation off to about 5-10cms. Once you have cleared the cuttings give the area a really good water. Within days you are likely to see the whole area green up again and flowering will continue until your final maintenance cut in the Autumn.

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If your wildflower meadow starts to look brown/scruffy, simply give it a high cut.

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Final Yearly Maintenance Cut

Whether you have decided to make maintenance cuts earlier in the year or not, you will always need to do a final maintenance cut for the year in late summer/ early autumn after the wildflowers have set and shed their seed. This cut is essential for the health of the meadow, not only does it tidy up the area for the winter but it stops the senesced summer growth from covering the growing plant in a layer of rotting green material. If this material isn’t removed it will act as a barrier for the regrowth of the parent plant and also reintroduce a level of nutrients that is best avoided. An open sward over the winter ensures healthy, disease free plants which can benefit from what light and warmth is available to them during these months. If you have not cut the meadow previously in the year you will find that some of the stems are dry and tough, making it more difficult to cut.

Once cleared you will find that your meadow starts to grow again although how much regrowth will depend on the time of the cut, soil fertility, moisture levels and the weather. 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. Allowing the meadow a chance to green-up ready for the winter is a good idea before it then becomes dormant with little or no growth through the winter. When spring approaches, the wildflowers are in the perfect position to develop quickly and repeat their perennial cycle thus guaranteeing a wildflower meadow year after year.

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After depleting nutrients and reducing grass content, this meadow was allowed to flourish more impressively in its second year.

TOP TIPS FOR FINAL YEARLY MAINTENANCE CUT:

  • When planning your maintenance cut, choose a dry day, you will find it lighter and cleaner to clear the cuttings.
  • Be thorough with your clearance. The aim is to deplete nutrient levels to continue to keep the wildflower to be competitive and limit grasses and nutrient loving plants such as fat hen and docks. Rotting material left on site will also be a haven for pests such as slugs.
  • When clearing the area with a rake, it is fine to treat the ground and plants roughly, this will pull out any thatched material and provide light and air to the roots. The plants are hardy and will not be affected by some tough love.
  • Do take care, especially for amphibians within your meadow. A staggered cutting program will help – cutting half the area one day and then delaying the second half for a week or two will allow fauna to migrate to the uncut area. By the time of the second cut, the first cut area will have some regrowth to provide a beneficial habitat.
  • If you are using the cuttings for compost and they feel particularly dry, give them a soaking as they will break down better with moisture.
  • As a final tidy up a good rake is worthwhile, or a quick and easy option is to run a rotary mower with collectors over the area.
  • Once you have completely cleared the area you may find bare patches. These are perfectly acceptable. They may look unsightly for a little while, but the chances are there is something dormant underground waiting to get going again in the spring. If you do want to enhance the area with plugs you can use this sort of area to plant in as there will be less competition.
  • Be vigilant with leaf and fruit removal after your Autumnal cut. It will be much easier once you have removed the senesced meadow material to clear falling leaves but do not leave them to rot down and add nutrients to the soil or provide a potential risk of disease.

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Cutting and removing, using an Amazone Profihopper.

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Mown tight and ready for the winter

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Flourishing again the following June.

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A Garden Inspired by History

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Today marks 801 years since Magna Carta. A magnificent garden was created last year to celebrate the 800th anniversary.

Patricia Thirion and Janet Honour from A Touch of France Garden Design used the historic peace treaty between unpopular King John of England and a group of rebel barons to create a quintessential medieval garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year. Magna Carta, Latin for “the Great Charter” is a charter agreed at Runnymede in June 1215, first drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Magna Carta is considered one of the most significant political documents in English history, due to its influence on English law in subsequent centuries.

Law. Liberty. Legacy.

Three of the key principles of the Magna Carta are inscribed on a slice of historic yew tree trunk at the front of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Magna Carta garden. The slice of Yew was inscribed to relate to Magna Carta, with a link to the 2000 years old Ankerwicke yew growing near Runnymede meadow. It was placed in the front of the garden surrounded by wildflowers, supplied by Wildflower Turf.11181873_892499950791538_8524406085651532424_n

The Magna Carta garden was relocated in June 2015 to the grounds of the Runnymede-On-Thames hotel, facing the meadow where it is open to the public.

If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket for the unique garden experience at the Runnymede-On-Thames hotel on 20th June, you’ll get the chance to see the Magna Carta garden for yourself. Janet and Patricia from A Touch of France will also be sharing their stories on RHS Chelsea Flower Show and ideas for getting the most out of your garden at home.

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Making an Urban Scene Green

Last Spring, a park was created in London for the first time in one hundred years.

3,850m² of a mixture of Wildflower Landscape Turf and Shade Tolerant Turf was taken to Greenwich Peninsula, to be installed by Gavin Jones. Alys Fowler teamed up with Thomas Hoblyn (clients: Knight Dragon), to create a biodiverse setting in an urban area. Not only did they use Wildflower Turf to create serene meadows on the banks, they installed boxes for bee keeping, apple trees and wild herbs. This project is a prime example of a state-of-the-art urban area introducing a more environmentally-friendly atmosphere to welcome all kinds of nature for the public to engage with.

The area was challenging, due to not only having high foot-traffic, but also containing contaminated soil and steep mounds, making installation on the banks complex. In this situation, the easiest option would have been to install lawn turf, however, Alys was determined to introduce biodiversity into the project, so wildflowers were the chosen solution.

The wildflowers flourished magnificently, despite the area having heavy public use at the opening event shortly after installation. We visited the site a year on to find the wildflowers still thriving. The contrast between the prominent architectural framework against the sculpted green mounds and wildflower banks creates the most phenomenal setting.

Greenwich Peninsula in 2015

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Greenwich Peninsula in 2016

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