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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The Queen of Herbs Returns to RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Modern-Apothecary-Garden-2Jekka McVicar, highly acclaimed organic gardening expert, is appearing once again at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week with a Main Avenue Show Garden featuring Wildflower Turf. The unique Show Garden, which will be relocated to St John’s Hospice at the end of the show, was created with an aim to inspire today’s visitor and to ensure that the history, culinary and medicinal usage of herbs are not lost for future generations. Not only is the garden an excellent resource for plant identification but also a gastronomic delight for anyone interested in good food, as it displays the largest collection of culinary herbs in the UK.

stjohn_1-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”

50m² of our Wildflower Shade Tolerant Turf has been used for Jekka’s tranquil project, to reinforce one of the main purposes of the project, which is to create a place of quiet reflection. The vibrancy and serenity of the wildflowers will perfectly match the purpose of Jekka’s creation. The garden will seek to highlight the important relationship between medicine and nature while providing rehabilitation to the senses.

A big congratulations to Jekka for winning Silver-Gilt and also to Peter Clay from Crocus, who once again has sourced such beautiful plants for this award-winning garden.

If you’re at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week, don’t miss out on this inspiring Show Garden, ‘A Modern Apothecary’ designed by Jekka McVicar.

Jekka McVicar“Plants can survive without us but we and this planet cannot survive without plants.”

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Creating a Buzz at Kew this Summer

Wolfgang Buttress Render by Day SM  The journey of the British bee will be brought to life this summer at Kew Gardens when the award winning Hive installation from the 2015 Milan Expo, is relocated to the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Hive was the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at last year’s global event in Milan and stood as a visual symbol of the pollinators’ role in feeding humanity and the challenges facing bees today. It will fulfil a similar role at Kew, hoping to show visitors how they can make a difference to the life of bees with a multi-sensory experience, including architecture, science, music and wildflower landscapes.

Visitors will be drawn into The Hive via a lush and vibrant wildflower meadow that Wildflower Turf Ltd are delighted to be growing for Kew Gardens. Tony Kirkham, Head of Arboretum and Horticultural Services at Kew, has been making regular visits to Wildflower Turf Ltd to discuss the different types of wildflower products to be used and check on their progress. A mix of Landscape Turf and Border Turf will be used within the surrounding garden with a mix of bright annuals and native perennial wildflowers. This area is likely to be under planted with summer flowering bulbs for extra impact.

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The story of pollination will continue to come alive for visitors throughout Kew, from seeing the seasonal array of sumptuous fruit and veg in Kew’s Kitchen Garden, to basking in the British summer on a Pollination Trail across the gardens. Individual beehives, housing honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees will take up home in the Gardens, enabling visitors to understand the inner workings of a hive, while the summer holidays will be filled with hands on activities for all ages. Thousands of flickering LED lights will bring the 17 metre high structure to life, reflecting bee activity within the hive and making it a wonderful place to visit at dusk with a honey infused cocktail in hand.

James Hewetson-Brown, Managing Director at Wildflower Turf Ltd says “We are delighted to have been asked to grow the meadow to surround this magnificent structure by Wolfgang Buttress – it really will be a sight to behold this summer for wildflower and bee enthusiasts. More importantly, it offers the chance for visitors to reconnect with nature and understand in detail why looking after our pollinators is so important and hopefully encourage even more people to consider bees when designing and planting gardens and amenity landscapes. It is a great honour to be working with Kew Gardens on such a prestigious project.”

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The Hive’s official opening date to the public is Saturday 18th June. You can book your tickets in advance at the Kew Garden Visit booking site.IMG_3328 Resized & Edited

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Changing Public Perception with Wildflowers

A CASE STUDY – TRANSFORMING A NEGLECTED AREA

The Borough of Kings Lyn and West Norfolk wanted to transform an area that had been neglected over the years and subsequently blighted with anti-social behaviour. They wanted to find a solution to this overgrown site to encourage the local residents back into the adjoining park and change public perception of this area that had developed a bad reputation amongst the wider community.

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After compulsory purchasing the land, the project clean-up and clearance was managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, due to otters, water vole and many other species that lived within the area. It was decided that by introducing a high impact wildflower display, the creation of a pictorial meadow would positively change the way people feel about the area. The council went about researching the best way to establish wildflowers to create quick but long lasting results.

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THE WORK

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust set up volunteer days and carefully cleared the very overgrown area. After clearance the site was treated with an application of glyphosate and any further material raked off the surface a couple of weeks later. No further ground preparation was required as the council had decided to use Wildflower Earth®, a pre-seeded growing medium that is simply spread over the sprayed off area without the need for rotovation. Within the Wildflower Earth® was a mix of high impact annuals, (to ensure a strong show of colour in the first year) and perennial wildflowers.

THE RESULTS

The results are clear to see from a visual perspective but benefits go far beyond aesthetics. The Borough Council reported a very positive change in the public’s reaction to the area. Whilst the land has been tidied up, it still provides a beneficial habitat for many different forms of wildlife, as well as being a magnet for pollinators. The meadow then required just one maintenance cut at the end of the flowering season, allowing the area to green-up and over winter as the perennials take over the following year.

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KEY FACTS ABOUT WILDFLOWER EARTH IN AMENITY AREAS

This project is a classic example of the way wildflowers can engage and enthuse people. In a community area, involving a volunteer group can win hearts and minds and give a sense of ownership with a far greater likelihood of long term success for the meadow. It is acceptable that plants take time to flower, but it mustn’t take too long and the establishment phase must work first time. If not, enthusiasm quickly wains and an opportunity is lost. In this case using a mix of annuals and perennials in a pre-seeded growing medium (Wildflower Earth®) was the perfect solution. Wildflower Earth® provides an accurate seed rate in a growing medium blended to provide exceptional levels of seed and establishment. The results are considerably better than conventional methods of seeding flowers. Annuals offer a reliable first season flush of vibrant colour as the perennials establish to create a longer term display in years to come. The installation of meadows to public green spaces also results in lower man hour input and subsequent long term benefits to maintenance budgets.

This is just a small insight into how the pioneering products of Wildflower Turf Ltd can transform public spaces and are rapidly becoming a multi-faceted solution to amenity landscapes. This wonderful case study from Kings Lyn and West Norfolk Borough Council typifies many of the brilliant projects that we are working on up and down the country with local authorities and other guardians of our parks and green spaces.

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