See Part I pdf

The costs of sowing (or planting) wild herbaceous species is relatively low, maintenance costs are almost zero.

Wild flower and grass seed is available from a variety of distributors either in wholesale quantities and mixes destined for professional use (and for those with large private properties, gardens or set-aside land) or as small retail packets for the ordinary consumer. These packets usually contain individual species – mostly wild flower species, and a few mixtures.

Q.3 Have you had difficulty in finding suppliers of wild flowers seeds that meet your requirements and interests?

From the production point of view, experience in commercial scale cultivation of wild flower seed seems a better starting point than research undertaken by public institutes to select suitable species. Often such selection does not take into account relative yields and difficulties in cultivating certain species. One is driven by commercial success the other by academic research. Research also tends to focus on characteristics of individual species rather than the dynamics in the growth and development of a given type of vegetation.

Packet seeds of wild flowers

Seeds of wild herbaceous plants (wild flower and grass seed) made available in various formulations in small packets for purchase by amateur, hobby gardeners.

Part of the blog’s interest is to promote the creation of natural landsapes and growing flowering pot plants from wild herbaceous species.


 Q.4 Do you favour using seed, young plants or wild flower turf to obtain a semi-natural vegetaion?

The germination time of seed varies considerably between species and a period of up to 3 years can be expected before a fully ‘mature’ semi-natural vegetation is achieved. This time factor and uncertainty is far too long for developers who want a more immediate and guaranteed coverage.

To help resolve this problem, at a considerable higher cost, some nurseries specialize in supplying the developers with young plants (plugs). Another recent development is the supply of wild flower turf in rolls that can be laid as ordinary turf, the plants already growing in amongst the grass and ready to root into the underlying soil together with the grass. A pioneer in this field is www.wildflowerturf.co.uk Alternatively, seed or plugs can be introduced into existing areas of grass rather than on a prepared soil bed.

Q.5 Are you a developer or a botanical ‘purist’?

Those developers that wish to create impressive colour effects with wild flowers, resort to more artificial mixtures of seed sourced in different countries, further afield, in order to guarantee a uniformly high percentage germination and a long flowering period from the early summer through to late autumn. This is not as easy as it sounds and requires research and experimentation over a number of years. Leading exponents are: Prof. James Hitchmough and Dr. Nigel Dunnett at Sheffield University www.shef.ac.uk/landscape. They created the Pictorial Meadows seed mixtures www.pictorialmeadows.co.uk and to this purpose are responsible for the 3ha wild flower meadows at the London Olympics 2012. These mixtures plus landscape consultancy from Green Estate Ltd have also been in demand in France, Spain and Scandinavian countries.  

Despite the increasing trend in England to plant only native species in public parks and gardens, James Hitchmough considers this wrong. There are 13,000 km2 of ordinary gardens in the UK that act as nature reserves. All garden plants should also be considered in relation to their value to the ecosystem and wildlife, not just the contribution made by native species.Original article Science Daily

The results tend to please developers and shock botanical ‘purists’ that are interested to support conservation of biodiversity in the local flora. For this need, other mixtures are available, the most comprehensive supply being available from Emorsgate Seeds www.wildseed.co.uk  In reality there is room for both approaches.

Q.6 How much have wild flower species changed?

Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be completely regenerated. It is fertile, produces white flowers and viable seeds.  An entire plant was grown from seed found in a fruit stuck in burrows made by squirrels in the Siberian permafrost about 31.800 years ago (plus/minus 300 years). The burrows were located 40m below the present surface. The regenerated plant looks very similar to its modern counterpart species which still grows in the same area of Northeast Siberia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1118386109 www.pnas.org

Wild Flowers Part I pdf

Various arguments associated with the creation of natural landscapes, including herbaceous perennials.

New research faciity at RHS Wisley Gardens  The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has opened a new controlled-environment scientific research facility at RHS Gardens at Wisley. The new building is dedicated to specialist garden-based research. The innovative technology used in the glasshouse building will allow scientists to research into pests and diseases of garden plants and provide gardeners with support also in determining environmentally and wildlife-friendly gardening practices and understanding the environmental costs and benefits. www.rhs.org.uk

Wild flowers at London Olympics  There was a colourful display in the 3ha wild flower meadows at the London Olympics 2012, the chosen species providing yellow-gold as the predominant colour. It  is difficult to get all species and plants flowering at the same time over an extended period from the summer through to late autumn. The seed mixtures used by the supporting Company Green Estate Ltd, are the result of several years of research and experimentation at Sheffield University by Prof. James Hitchmough and Dr. Nigel Dunnett. They created unique mixtures of indigenous and non-indigenous hardy wild flower annuals under the name Pictorial Meadows www.pictorialmeadows.co.uk

The aim was to create mixtures from seed that has reliable germination and plants that flower for a long period creating a strong yet harmonious display of colour to replace areas down to grass and formal beds and other plantings typical of urban gardens, parks, roadside margins and similar.

These mixtures are not designed to create semi-natural vegetation but to create a ‘wild flower look’ while serving to increase biodiversity. They have met with considerable success also in Spain, France and Scandinavia. It is hoped that these wild flower displays will stimulate local authorities in other cities to follow the trend, creating wild flower meadows integrated into their urban landscaping.

Green Estate Ltd www.greenestate.org.uk offers a range of commercial services for landscape consultancy, design, construction and management for urban areas. They also sell ‘Manor Oaks Wild flower mixes’ that will provide a more natural community of wild flower and grass species.

Greenery for town squares (En/It)  The second edition of the International Landscape and Garden Meeting  (I Maestri del Paesaggio) took place in Città Alta, Bergamo, Italy, 30th August – 16th September 2012.

The event includes seminars and workshops with international speakers but most evident was the decking out of the famous Piazza Vecchia with greenery. The scenery was made up predominantly of easy to maintain herbaceous perennials with a few trees and climbers, and raised beds for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. See images below.

This annual event is organized by Arketipos www.arketipos.org a non-profit association founded by Maurizio Vegini of Studio GPT.  Amongst the eight founders is Renzo Crescini of Vivaio Valfredda one of the largest growers of herbaceous perennials in Italy. www.vivaiovalfredda.it

One of the regular visitors to the event was Dott.ssa Elisa Resegotti, curator of the Pianamola Gardens near Viterbo, where the argument of natural planting with wild flowers and grasses joins a series of projects that aim to bring Nature and Art closer together. www.pianamola.org

See: Why sow wild flower seeds (pdf)  Vedere: Perché si coltivano le erbacee spontanee (pdf)

Edward Bent ©2012 | HORTCOM