A question we are often asked is, “What is the potential longevity of my wildflower meadow?” And our answer is, “It will be indefinite, if maintained well!”
Ten years ago, we worked with Accredited Partner Bill Welling from Lawn Man to enhance Ashley Manor in Hampshire and we were delighted to recently receive an update from Ashley Manor Head Gardener, Olly Samways. A decade on, the Ashley Manor meadow continues to thrive and delight.
Ashley Manor is a Grade II listed building, situated in the Test Valley. The original landscaping project was to cover the fairly steep banks to the rear of Ashley Manor with Wildflower Turf. The banks were south and west facing, in two tiers, and the Test Valley location meant they had chalky soil with only a thin layer of top soil to work with.
In September 2008, 655m² of Wildflower Turf was laid and, despite the challenging profile of the banks, the turf went down well and did not require any pegging. The September installation also meant that the turf did not require any additional watering.
The turf rooted in quickly and established itself well over the winter months, flowering beautifully in the spring and summer of 2009. Red Campion did particularly well on the lower slopes, and the turf also acted very successfully as a weed suppressing mat.
Following the first, very successful year, the meadow also formed a home to a number of invertebrates and mammals, with voles and slow worms taking up residence. Over the past decade, the meadow has continued to provide safe haven for an abundance of wildlife.
Ten years of meadow management has also given Oliver plenty of time to trial and perfect his cutting regime.
Initially, a two-cut approach was used, with Oliver finding that this provided the longest period of overall flowering in the early years of the meadow. Likewise, this two-cut regime helped with the initial establishment of the late season varieties in the turf, as well as removing old growth that would have otherwise started to compost and raise nutrient levels by the autumn. As part of this regime, the first cut was usually late June or early July, just after the ox-eye daisies were turning.
However, in recent years Olly has swapped to a one-cut, with the meadow not seeming to require the additional cut as it has matured.
“Our experience with our Wildflower Turf has been excellent over the last decade, so I have no reservations at all about waxing lyrical about it to anyone who asks about it! Whenever I give tours around the garden, the wildflower areas continue to draw the most interest, as they have done every year since the turf was installed…”
Ashley Manor, Hampshire
So, rest assured, Wildflower Turf does indeed provide excellent meadow longevity. Indeed, our own oldest area of wildflowers on the farm has already reached the ripe old age of 15 years old and still continues to flourish.
Our thanks to Olly for his recent updates and here’s wishing the Ashley Manor Meadow a very happy Ten-Year Anniversary!