Stewarts Turf in Scotland are part of Harrowden Turf and have recently added Meadowmat wildflower turf to their product portfolio.
In this article we look at the pros and cons of including wildflowers in garden design, green roofing and landscaping projects in Scotland.
You’ll have seen the statistics about 97% of wildflower meadows having disappeared from the UK since the Second World War. That has an impact on biodiversity and has affected many species including butterflies, bees, birds, small birds and more. There’s no question that gardeners, architects, local authorities and anyone with responsibility for landuse, need to get involved and help our remaining wildflowers to thrive. But how?
Wildflowers for green roofing
By far one of the most exciting uses for wildflowers in recent years is for living green roofs. A living green roof has numerous benefits for engineering and for biodiversity.
- Insulation against heat and cold
- Noise amelioration
- Managing rainwater runoff
- Prolonging the life of the waterproofing
- Lessening the Urban Heat Island Effect
- Improving air quality
- Potential for food production
- Forming wildlife corridors
- Creating habitat for wildlife
- Increasing biodiversity
- Conserving wildflower species for future generations
You may have seen wildflower roofs on such TV programmes as Grand Designs – and they’re beautiful.
In Scotland of course, it’s important to choose wildflower species that are well adapted to the country’s unique weather patterns.
Harrowden Turf’s Traditional Meadowmat and Meadowmat for Birds and Bees incorporate wildflower species that are native to Scotland and genuinely help support invertebrates. Either type of Meadowmat can be installed upon a living green roof. It’s low maintenance and easy to establish atop a sturdy flat-roofed building.
For independent information on the benefits of green roofing, go to www.livingroofs.org
Wildflowers in public open spaces
Allowing wildflowers to thrive in public parks, on road verges and in the grounds of our country houses has a two-fold benefit.
First of all, the cost of grounds maintenance is reduced. A wildflower meadow area does need some maintenance – in fact if it’s left completely to nature it will soon turn to scrub. However, wildflower meadows don’t need weekly mowing, they don’t need fertiliser application and they can be used as an educational resource for schools and community groups.
Secondly the benefits to the community and to the environment are generous and genuine. It's great PR!
Meadow maintenance involves one main “hay” cut per year. Certainly in the first few years, there may also be a need to introduce new species. It takes a while for the plant populations to settle and find a balance so human intervention can be helpful.
Yes, you may need different machinery to tackle the mowing. Remember that clippings must be removed. These days most large landscape contracting companies offer a meadow mowing service at reasonable prices.
How to establish wildflowers in Scotland
In theory, wildflowers should grow like weeds. In practice, they rarely obey our rules and they have been known to disappoint when sown from seed.
Perennial wildflower species offer best value in terms of longevity and annual maintenance. Annual wildflowers are the brightest and give a fabulous show of colour but you do need to disturb the soil and re-sow them every year. Not at all practical on a living roof!
Seeding is great in that it’s relatively cheap. It can offer up disappointing results though. Invariably, the wildflower sward will be supplemented by any weed that happens to have left seeds in the soil bank. More often than not, the seeds germinate unreliably and so the “finished article” looks nothing like the picture on the seed packet.
With wildflower turf type products you overcome the problems of poor germination. Also, using turf means that annual weed seeds in the native soil seedbank get suppressed. (annual wildflowers and weeds need light to germinate the seed). Of course the turf products cost more per square metre than seed to buy, but they are proven, they are reliable and can be installed at any time of year.
For more information, contact the team at Stewarts Turf on 0333 456 0019