When Alec Davies, Course Manager at Denton Golf Club, Manchester was tasked with removing a roundabout and upgrade an access road leading to the clubhouse, he also had to work out what to do with the resultant 600 tonnes of rubble and spoil. Job one was to form it into 150m by 30m bank, graded to a height of around 3m.
"I needed to ensure the spoil bank was turned into a feature and was finished properly as it can be seen from the clubhouse," says Mr Davies. "I was not sure what to do in the long term but initially thought we could turf the bank as and when funds became available and keep it green and weed free in the interim."
After an initial period that saw periodic spraying to keep weeds, that included docks and thistles in check, Mr Davies decided to seed the bank with a native annual wildflower mixture from DLF Trifolium's Masterline range. DLF are one of the UKs largest suppliers of native wild flower mixtures. Expecting weeds to continue to be a problem, he selected an annual mix which would allow spraying to be carried out before the wildflowers would germinate.
"We sprayed off the bank with herbicide and then sowed the seed mix," adds Mr Davies. "We probably seeded a bit late, applying the mix in May. Initially, the seed seemed to take a while to germinate but then it really took off. The bank soon became a real feature, full of colour and drawing nothing but positive comments from members."
The bank has subsequently not needed to be mown or managed in anyway, Mr Davies saying that it has continued to provide a riot of colour for over three months, including when he was interviewed in late October.
"We had sufficient seed remaining to also try it on some other areas where it has germinated well and added colour to what is a predominantly green course," he adds. "So what I initially thought would be a way to buy me time to work out to do with the bank in the long term, the wildflower mix has actually prompted us to think of growing more wildflowers as well as proving a cost effective solution in turning the bank into a feature."
It is worth remembering that the bank largely comprises hard core and is covered with a modest layer of poor quality soil. Good drainage matched to poor soil is the ideal for certain types of wildflowers, the native Pro Flora 1 Cornfield Annuals mix comprising species such as Corn Flower, Corn Marigold and Corn Poppies. If the bank had been turfed, it would have needed to be mown, sprayed to control weeds and irrigated to keep it looking attractive.
"Some indigenous plants have since established in the bank," says Mr Davies. "Foxgloves and Aquilegia have both established themselves and are really attractive. As far as we are concerned, our wildflower bank has worked well. It looks good, has low maintenance needs and has enabled us to put waste materials to good use economically.
The total seed cost was £120. As to Denton Golf Club members, they have asked if they can buy some more seed to add more colour to the course for next year.
Caption: The DLF Pro Flora 1 Native Cornfield Annuals mix, used at Denton Golf Club, Manchester, comprises Corn Campion, Corn Flower, Corn Marigold and Corn Poppies. Selected to encourage wildlife, the mix attracts a wide range of insects and butterflies, an extended flowering season seeing the bank change in colour from the blue of Corn Flower, through the red of poppies and then to the yellow of Corn Marigold.
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