Wildflowers on Golf Courses:
Wildflower can be used on golf courses to great effect, to attract
wildlife and improve the landscape.
The golfer generally supports the
planting of native species.
There are many issues associated in the 'situating' of native flora on
golf courses, indeed there is concern that wild flora and fauna is often
In my personal experience, the main cause of problems arising with
existing or new flora management, is not the complexity of the flora or
tasks involved in maintenance, but the Clubs management team or committees'
lack of experience and understanding, too often the aims of such a group
are not in the best interest of conservation.
Green keepers who have grown
wildflowers successfully have often taken risks against the background of an
uneducated committee, whom resist change.
My advice is to identify all those
members in the club and persons who can help locality, in protecting wildflowers
on the course. The county field recorder for flora can help.
Wildflowers on Golf Courses:
The placement of flora can be designed for and influenced by; boundaries,
existing natural vegetation, new planting schemes and the 'rough'.
Get advice before the design stage, carry out a flora survey, and specify
to the design team that you wish to keep existing native flora, thus
If wildflowers are to be introduced then sowing is cost effective.
There is no need to till or turn the soil, just make level and kill off
the existing vegetation. Then sow and roll the seed into the surface.
An ideal time to sow wildflowers is during improvements,
where bare soil is exposed.
Do not delay, spray weed germination off, and sow as if seed can be sown
before the weeds germinate the flora will get off to a great start.
Wild flowers are more difficult to establish
in existing grass, however on golf courses the regular cutting may help
As mentioned many golf courses have existing flora, managing this should
be the first consideration,
Survey and look for existing species, they may not be flowering at the
time of the survey so keep a notebook handy to record all the wildlife on
the course, after one year you will be surprised how many species can be
Check in 'out of
the way places' and see what the local ecology is, are the existing species
stable or in retreat? Such as in the shaded areas.
Can these areas be increased by raising awareness, training of staff,
notices and if required, fencing off these areas, especially if they need
help. Simple ideas like covering nearby ground with cut grass mulch generated elsewhere on the
course can create areas for the spread of many species.
3 simple questions:
- Are existing places in danger of change, for example, are wetland species
in danger of being drained? Are woodland soils sheltered and shaded?
Are meadows with flora, cut at the right time and managed to protect
- Many golf courses have native orchids and other rare species, is there a management plan for
- Is there a plan for invasive weeds, as well as fertiliser and herbicide
use, what safeguards are there to avoid chemical use in flora and
fauna rich special areas?
meadow changes colour with the seasons.
A meadow should be green all
summer (even in drought) until just before it finishes flowering in mid or
late summer (depending on mixture).
It will then become golden yellow in colour and need to be cut back and
cleaned up after flowering. The seeds will fall out 3-6 weeks after
In autumn, a meadow will reflect the seasons change as it recovers from its final cut.
In wintertime, your meadow should remain a grassy.
In the first two years it will have some bare patches, where seeds will
germinate. Give it time to improve, if you feel it is too bare you can
over sow it with wild grass. Use bent but no ryegrass, if you like the blazing colours of the
annuals that grew in the first year create island beds for them in the
meadow and rotavate these every autumn.
Use Annual Mix No EC07, (seek advice).
does a meadow look like?
In the early years when you first sow your meadow it
should grow to an even height with a blaze of colour, especially if you
sow extra annuals.
New meadows tend to flower in high summer for 12
weeks or more. Over time the meadow will have more species, flower for
longer and at different heights but not in a single blaze.
are better viewed from close up. In older meadow
the flora will be far more complex and interesting due to the
diversity of species and range of colourful flowers.
Create a wildflower path through the meadow so you can see the flowers
close up, cut the grass with a lawn mower and keep it very short. So there
is work after all!
Wildflowers are functional plants, they can be used to benefit wildlife
& stop erosion. Meadows are more than pretty they are ecosystems.
Instruction: Natural succession
In the wild, meadows take years to evolve. Wildflowers
usually follow a clear succession in becoming a meadow.
The wildflower grower aims to regularly cut a meadow at least one or twice
per year to halt the succession and spread of grasses, shrubs or even
The secret of
growing a great meadow falls to halting its natural succession
just before the taller tougher grasses take over and the 'meadow starts
thinking it's a forest'.
In nature, Annual species grow first, then Biennials flower in the second
Perennial herbaceous plants and fine grasses then succeed these.
In time in an uncut meadow taller tougher grass species arrive & kill
We must cut to control the spread of these grasses, as they cannot survive
regular cutting. Annuals and Biennials die off and do not
reappear unless they are species suited to growing in grassland.
Where (grass dependent species) semi-parasitic annual species of old hay meadows
occur such as Bartsia,
Eyebright, Loosewort or Yellow Rattle. Yellow Rattle reduces the growth
of grass and is essential to most meadows, it can be over sown into
existing grassland and needs low temperatures to germinate. All the above
species are disappearing in the wild. (Such species are
supplied in mixtures, often with a host grass at 0.5% of total seed
quantity, and may also be included
in pure 100% wildflower mixtures).