Wild about flowers: Cornish wildflower gardens to visit

PUBLISHED: 15:35 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:35 14 July 2020

Eden Project Photo:  Emily Whitfield-Wicks

Eden Project Photo: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

Emily Whitfield-Wicks 'St.Meva' 9 Beacon Road Bodmin Cornwall PL31 1AR U.K

Gorgeous to look at, easy to manage, beloved habitats to many species in search of a home and the perfect excuse to stop mowing the lawn: welcome to the wildflower garden

Truro introduced banks of wildflowers along its roads Photo: Ewen MacDonaldTruro introduced banks of wildflowers along its roads Photo: Ewen MacDonald

There was a time when wildflowers in domestic gardens were akin to weeds. Today they are providing a riot of colour along Cornwall’s roads.

New for this year is the wildflower corridor on the A391, which forms part of the Austell Project’s Garden Route, along the gateway road into the town.

The new 7,000 square metre meadow of wildflowers and garden cultivars – which is the first of its kind for Cornwall - bordering the A391, between the Pinetum Garden junction and the Carluddon roundabout.

The Wildflower Corridor and Perennial Meadow Garden is a collaboration between the Austell Project and Cornwall Council’s Making Space for Nature programme and the National Wildflower Centre at the Eden Project.

The National Wildflower Centre as part of Eden’s Life Sciences’ team is about making a real difference to restore the wild habitats, species, landscapes and biodiversity. Conservation projects in urban and rural areas across the country will use wildflowers as a conduit for new cultural ecology projects. Above all, the aim is to use wildflowers to bring biodiversity, delight and colour into the lives of communities.

More than 95 per cent of wildflower meadows in Britain having been destroyed in less than a century, roadside grassland has become a crucial wildlife habitat for more than 700 species of wildflowers – nearly 45 per cent of our total flora – including 29 of 52 species of wild orchid such as the rare lizard orchid.

A visitor to the Eden Project  Photo: Emily Whitfield-WicksA visitor to the Eden Project Photo: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

Last year, a two-kilometre stretch of the central reservation of the A390 bloomed into yarrow, poppy, bird’s-foot trefoil, daisy and clover after 7400 square metres of seeds were cast using hydro-seeding, where the seeds are mixed with mulch into a solution that is then sprayed over the area to be planted. The majority of the flowers were native species.

The Wildflower Corridor in St Austell features 4,000 square metres of specialist turf including St John’s Wort, Evening Primrose, Orange Hawkweed and Purple Coneflower. The choices were hand selected to look good, but also creating a biodiverse habitat to attract bees, butterflies and dragonflies.

The mix of perennials and pollinators was created by leading horticulture experts Pictorial Meadows. Unseen anywhere else, the incredible mix of flora is designed to create a sustainable community of plants, that support each other, to offer a year-round floral bloom – brightening the gateway road into the town with a welcome splash of colour. It’s hoped the meadows will also provide cover and food for birds, small mammals and amphibians. Uncut meadow patches will be left as refuge areas for creatures to shelter in over winter months.

The meadow verges will be managed with an annual autumn cut, to reduce fertility and ensure continued diversity of flower species. Cuttings will be collected and removed, leaving a healthy sward ready to grow again each springtime – to encourage a striking annual bloom.

In September the project is due to be extended, with additional native wildflower seeds being sown, to create a 2.5km wildlife corridor between the Tregrehan Mills and Treverbyn roundabouts. A footpath/cycleway runs alongside much of the verge, allowing up-close contact with nature and enjoyment of the visual display.

Look out for horticulture installations including silver birch trees, wildflowers and newly commissioned art sculptures as work continues (when possible) throughout 2020.

“By bringing back the wildflowers we initiate a wonderful regenerative process that supports hosts of other species and brings delight to thousands of people,” says Mike Maunder, Eden’s Director of Life Sciences.

Britain could enjoy 400 billion more flowers if road verges were cut later and less often according to guidelines drawn up by wildlife charities, highways authorities and contractors. Not only will the flowers improve the look of one of the main routes into the city, they’ll also help to support birds, bees and other wildlife. Verges also provide a potential habitat for rare flowers.

The national guidance for managing roadside verges for wildflowers calls for just two cuts a year – instead of four or more – and only after flowers have set seed, to restore floral diversity and save councils money.

The new facility is home to living seed banks and is supplying plug plants and bespoke wildflower seed mixes to match habitat and soil types – along with expert advice. The NWC’s conservation work also connects with rare plant conservation in the South West of England, and ‘flowerhouse energies’ through projects and seed production North and South.

The Eden Project is leading by example – having planted out stunning seasonal displays of native wildflower species around the gardens and our wider estate. Wildflowers will create a lively feeding and nesting ground for wildlife, and an attractive feature in your garden.

St Austell's new wildflower projectSt Austell's new wildflower project

You can start your own wildflower garden with the National Wildflower Centre seed mix, available from the Eden Project. edenproject.com


Seeds of success: how to create your own wildflower garden
Wildflowers will create a lively feeding and nesting ground for wildlife, and an attractive feature in your garden.

The simple way to encourage wildflowers into your patch is to stop mowing. Say ‘no to the mow’! Adopt a two-cut approach to your lawn, mowing once in autumn and then again in spring, removing all of the cut grass. This will lower fertility and give perennial wildflowers a chance to push through the grass.

You’ll soon see species such as rough hawkbit, yarrow and selfheal coming through, depending on your soil type. Your once sterile lawn will soon be buzzing with life – and you’ll have the time to enjoy it, now you’re not doing all that mowing. Give your seed a chance, sow wisely. Sow on bare ground, don’t throw in thick grass. Reap what you sow, collect your seed later for another go.

Wildflowers along the roadside create a vital habitatWildflowers along the roadside create a vital habitat

Watch the seedlings grow and celebrate the flowers when they come. Watch what visits the flower. Make a note, learn to identify bees and butterflies and learn more about pollinators and what they do.

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