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We offer a wealth of knowledge around all things Wildflower

Back on the 18th June, we hosted a webinar on Biophilic Design and were delighted to have two guest speakers. We were joined by Dr Alia Fadel who lectures on the subject at Leeds Beckett University and Giles Miller of Giles Miller Studios who recognises Biophilic Design in his innovative building and landscape designs.

It was an excellent webinar, Helen and I and all the many that joined the session were left with a greater understanding of the aspirational, inspirational and practical reasons for Biophilic Design from Alia. Then we were shown instances of tried and tested projects where this technique has been used by Giles.

This blog gives a few of the notes I took on this carefully considered and long-standing design initiative that has become very relevant in today’s society – not least with the recent lockdown and resulting interest…

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This month we hand our blog over to Eliza Nicholas, founder of Rocket Garden Design

For those with a garden or any sort of outdoor space nearby, 2020 has given us a new appreciation for sitting, eating, playing or working outside. Amidst the tragedy and confusion that the pandemic has brought, many of us seem to be seeking solace and space in our green surroundings. As a garden designer and gardening workshop host, it has been wonderful to see the interest and excitement from newly inspired gardeners, who are determined to develop green fingers in order to enhance and spend time in their outdoor spaces.

City dwellers, especially in our sunny capital where Rocket is based, are perhaps the most eager of all to introduce more plants and greenery into their homes and tiny patios or roof gardens. One of the most common themes I have noticed is clients asking how they can support wildlife and encourage more insects into their urban spaces. Alongside this, requests are for loose, wild and natural spaces to help them feel more connected to the countryside and nature. Perhaps surprisingly, clients are…

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As Lockdown starts to ease and some form of normality returns we have asked our staff to let us know what living and working in ‘lockdown’ has been like for them.

Claire Hewetson-Brown, Financial Director

 

The last 3 months have been quite challenging from a personal and business perspective.

At the start of the lockdown, I had so many concerns on both fronts and tackling these took a lot of my time and energy.  Making sure that family members were safe and keeping our parents going with food supplies, along with some social contact at a safe distance as they live on their own, was a priority.  But also everyone at Wildflower Turf Ltd; making sure those that needed to work on the farm were in a safe environment and ensure those who were in the office had the necessary kit to enable them to work from home.  Would there be enough enquiries and orders to keep everyone working rather than furloughed and what would we do if several members of the production team became ill at the same…

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As Lockdown starts to ease and some form of normality returns we have asked our staff to let us know what living and working in ‘lockdown’ has been like for them.

Mike Leflay, Farm Manager

March is always a busy time of year for us and having had the wettest winter in living memory the backlog of work on the farm and turf was fairly substantial to say the least, just as the weather began to improve and we were starting to make some dents into the backlog we were faced with lockdown. So how would we manage with the farm workload and turf maintenance if half or a third of our staff had to self isolate or shield? We quickly formulated some plans so that if the worst happened we would be prepared and able to complete all the essential daily maintenance tasks that we need to do such as running our irrigation systems. As the outbreak progressed we then began to think about what we would need to do if the orders for turf started to fizzle out.

In the end none of the things we thought would be a problem really were,…

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In 1970, Joni Mitchell prophetically sang, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, and never has this statement held more truth. COVID-19 has infiltrated our communities and impacted on virtually every aspect of our lives.

With the country still under lockdown, having access to green space has become an increasingly important part of our days and the UK population has sought out the natural landscape as a means of adding calm and creating some solace at what has been a challenging time for everyone.

The impact of outdoor space on health and wellbeing has long been documented. When public green spaces were officially designated in the 19th century, never would our forebears have imagined how crucial these areas would become in helping to buffer the effects of a pandemic in 2020.

If nothing else, the current situation teaches us that it is possible to make huge changes to the way we impact on, and interact with, the world we inhabit. Restrictions on travel, work and industry have meant emissions have decreased…

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Three more weeks of Lockdown – more isolation on an isolated farm near Basingstoke.

What a shock the first three weeks of lockdown were, our immediate thoughts with regards to the business were that we would have to try and keep the farm and turf production going whatever our sales did – we work to seasons and Covid-19 has struck right at the start of our growing season. It always seems to be a very short spring, summer and early autumn and we have to make the most of it. To have had to stop production would have meant no stock for when we do get back to some sort of normality hopefully later in the year. Luckily, we can do this whilst following the Governments guidelines with social distancing and regular sanitising of all equipment.

As for sales, we had no idea if anyone would continue to want Wildflower Turf and it has been a very nervous time. We decided to keep a very close eye on money in and out, with a view to protecting any cash in the business. We didn’t furlough anyone straight away…

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The country may be in lockdown but we hope that this month’s blog brings some joy to your day as we take a look at a special project in Gloucestershire.

 

Cotswold garden design specialists, Graduate Gardeners recently sent us through some thoroughly delightful images of a recent project, and we thought them too good not to share.

With over 40 years’ experience, Graduate Gardeners are a multi award-winning garden design, construction and landscaping company situated near Stroud and working predominantly throughout Gloucestershire.

Based on a two acre site in Bisley, the Graduate Gardeners team provide a full range of garden services including garden design, construction and landscaping.

The project in question is a long-running one, with Graduate Gardeners working with their client to transform an orchard area and garden surrounds on land located in a rural position south-west of Stroud.

Split into phases over several years, the first phase saw Graduate Gardeners trialling Wildflower Turf in a smaller area closer to the client’s main garden, whilst the orchard area itself was seeded. The seeded area established adequately and provided colour throughout the season. However, it…

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A rough and scrubby patch of ground in East Sussex is now a wonderful haven for some very important (and industrious) creatures.

 

Based near Tunbridge Wells, BALI Award winning Sandstone Design has been designing and landscaping gardens in the Kent and East Sussex area since 1998.

In 2018, Sandstone was commissioned to work their magic on a scrubby patch of private land. The client’s brief was simple; transform an unused area of rough grass within a six-acre garden, into a wildlife space. The client also desired to keep bees within the newly created space, and this was a key requirement of the design which needed careful consideration.

The Sandstone team of landscapers began work in summer 2018 with the creation of a new, 20 x 30-foot wildlife pond, complete with oxygenating plants.

Beside this pond, reclaimed sleeper decking and an oak building (which had featured at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2017) were installed, providing the client with a joyous spot from which to enjoy the new, tranquil wildlife garden.

Also featuring next to this wonderful water feature is a wildflower meadow, with the Sandstone team laying 120m²…

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It’s never too early to foster a love of wildflowers and an appreciation for their many merits, and we were thrilled to recently receive an update from our friends at Wordsworth Primary School in Southampton, Hampshire.

  

Towards the end of 2016, Wordsworth Primary School in Southampton was the recipient of funding from the Heritage Lottery Funded biodiversity project, Polli:Nation. (Polli:Nation is a fantastic UK-wide initiative supporting pupils from 260 schools to turn their school grounds and other local walk-to spaces into pollinator friendly habitats.)

A portion of the funding received by Wordsworth Primary School was set aside for a small wildflower meadow project at the school (approx. 18m²) with the objective of enhancing the school’s Nature Zone.

Steve Bowles, the school’s Outdoor Learning teacher researched the project and then contacted Wildflower Turf Ltd. It was decided that Wildflower Turf Native Enriched would be a great fit for the project and the turf was laid by the school’s Tough Mudder Rangers (students from Year 6) in February 2017.

By May of that year a stunning display of colour was in evidence. Children, parents and staff were so impressed by the wildflower meadow that it was decided…

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We are delighted to hand our blog over to a special guest contributor this month!

Keith Betton is the Chairman and County Recorder of the Hampshire Ornithological Society. Keith has kindly agreed to let us share his findings from his 2019 visit to Ashe Warren Farm, where he discovered a few lovely surprises.

 

The wildflower and grass turf strips at Ashe Warren Farm are attractive to breeding birds with good numbers of common birds but also some scarce and declining ones. On visiting in April 2019, I was amazed to find 14 pairs of Lapwings incubating eggs. This is a Red-listed species, treated as Vulnerable in the UK and Near-threatened globally. Farming changes and an increase in predators in England have driven the steep decline in the breeding population and since 1960 numbers have dropped by 80 percent. So, to find 14 pairs nesting was tremendous. These days they only succeed well when they can group together and work as a team to chase off predators. Also, the lack of foxes and badgers at Ashe Warren will have helped.

Another great discovery was a nesting pair of Stone-curlews. Although this is much rarer…

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