In 2015, Wildflower Turf have been involved in a lot of work where we join up the needs of the ecologist, the landscape architect, local authorities and the landscaper/contractor. To understand in more detail the issues that different councils are facing with the development of their parks and green spaces we have worked closely with a number of organisations to develop appropriate solutions and advice on the use of wildflowers. Of particular importance to Green Infrastructure planning right now are:
- Creating low maintenance areas that require less mowing
- Increasing biodiversity to help with the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and the National Pollinator Strategy.
- Demand for more informal space for recreation to promote physical and emotional well-being is increasing
- Sustainable planting schemes to cope with budget cuts
- Understanding how best to install wildflower environments that actually work
We are very serious about working alongside councils to create outstanding meadows in public spaces and the following projects highlight the diversity of our work in this area and our ability to provide a solution that fits the brief for all of the interested parties in Green Infrastructure.
1. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Stratford East Village
Whilst most of the transformation works were completed in 2013 and 2014, we have still delivered nearly half an acre of wildflower turf to various sites around Stratford and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will continue to do so in 2016. Many of this year’s projects have been smaller and often remedial work where seeding has proved unsuccessful. The wildflower areas created from our turf are always quick to establish and have made a stunning impact in this area and prove how well designed biodiverse green infrastructure has a rightful place in highly populated areas.
2. West Norfolk and Kings Lyn
This particular council got in touch to help with a transformation of an amenity area that bordered a housing estate and parkland. The area had built a reputation for anti-social behaviour and the project hoped to change the way people used and also regarded the area. The site had been very neglected and as you can see from the pictures below, required a great deal of clearance that was managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. There were water vole and otters living close to the site and so a sensitive approach was required.
The council chose to use our Wildflower Earth product that is a pre-seeded growing medium, using a mix of annuals and perennial wildflowers. The annuals were used to initially engage the public, knowing that they would create a great deal of impact very quickly. The wildflowers have transformed the area already and both residents and the council have been delighted with the results.
3. Hampstead Heath Ponds
Following advice from a government appointed panel engineer, the City of London is undertaking safety works on two chains of ponds on Hampstead Heath. This work will be mitigated by important ecological improvements and will ensure the dams on Hampstead Heath can withstand extreme rainfall events. We have worked with an Ecologist, Dr Meg Game, and Atkins Global to develop a bespoke mix of wildflowers and grass appropriate for flood alleviation. The first lot of turf has been laid and a further 2 acres of species rich turf with a variety of seed mixes will be placed on site in 2016.
The first 400m² was delivered in Autumn and we are currently growing a further 2 acres of turf for this ecologically sensitive project and look forward to showing off the results later in 2016.
4. Dorset County Council – Reducing Maintenance Costs
Dorset approached us to help with a project to reduce maintenance costs and disruption to traffic on a variety of sites, including a wide verge they have on a busy road leading into Wimborne. To minimise work involved in preparation, a simple spray off was all that was required. The application of earth was spread over the treated area and within a couple of months a mass of colour was produced with a vibrant native and non-native mix of wildflowers. The feedback was incredibly positive, sparking letters from the public to the council and newspaper reports, proving what a difference wildflowers can make to the sense of well being of the local population.
5. Guerilla Gardening at Marlborough Waterfront
What a joy it has been getting to know the Marlborough Waterfront Association this year, a group of residents led by the brilliant Val Compton, who have taken a plot of land into their own hands to create an attractive waterside meadow for all to take pleasure in.
Val told me how she had followed council landscape teams around Marlborough, collecting unwanted plants from amenity displays as they replenished displays, re-potting them and then selling them in a table top sale, thus collecting funds to pay for the meadow enhancements. I think this was an ingenious idea and one that could be replicated up and down the country. She has also harnessed funds from corporates who look to donate to worthy green projects. It really is a brilliant example of a community caring and making a real difference to the place that they live. Whilst just a small area, it has created a very important habitat for water voles and the team of volunteers have been instumental in achieving an ‘Outstanding’ certificate from the South West Britain in Bloom judges.
Congratulations from us on a wonderful project, one which other Guerilla Gardeners should look to replicate up and down the country.
6. Poole Council
We were delighted to be involved in the redevelopment of Haskells Recreation Ground, to transform a neglected park in Poole. The project was to encourage better usage of the area, stop fly-tipping, provide opportunity for more adventurous play and create more visual appeal with wildflowers. The meadow has certainly played it’s part in regenerating this area and whilst it is an obvious benefit to many, it really is wonderful to see the photographic evidence of how wildlife, especially butterflies, have flocked to the area.
7. Basingstoke Roundabout and Memorial Park
Last year we were delighted to work with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to create a fitting poppy commemorative display in the Memorial Park. So delighted with the success, we were asked to create similar displays this year, using our Wildflower Earth Bespoke red mix in the park and Wildflower Earth Annual mix on the main roundabout leading to the town centre. We had reports of ladies circling the roundabout 2 or 3 times to get a closer look at the species and colour that could be witnessed. We apologise profusely for any dangerous driving that we may have caused through this fantastic display!!
This is just a small sample of the many landscape projects we have been involved in within public green spaces. It will continue to be a strong focus for us in 2016, as we continue with our work to bring the major stakeholders together in creating sustainable, creative, bio-diverse landscapes in many urban areas up and down the country.
For further advice on using wildflowers within Green Infrastructure projects, speak to our Amenity and Green Spaces specialist, Helen Gillespie Brown on 01256 771222.