The Jubilee river diversion scheme is the largest of its kind in the country and, as an integral part of the project, the Environment Agency EA ensured landscape treatments incorporated wildflowers and other planting with a local provenance, providing maximum benefits for the local environment in terms of ecology, landscape and recreational value. The EA was mindful this philosophy should be rigidly adhered to in the planning stages for restoration of a 300m stretch of embankment affected by heavy flooding. It’s brief stipulated a grassed finish should be used as a starting point but also acknowledged this alone would appear too urbanised and not in keeping with the surrounding environment. Bearing in mind these factors and to be consistent with the riverbanks already established patterns, Atkins, as part of the landscape design consortium, proposed wildflower planting as the ideal solution.

A number of options were considered. Conventional seeding was ruled out as being too lengthy a process and with the probability of only giving a patchy end result, especially as seeding would take place during the Autumn. Conventional turfing with plug planted wildflowers was another possibility discarded on cost and time consumption. Research eventually led them to pre-sown wildflower soil-less turf from Coronet Turf. Coronet could not only provide the extensive mix of wildflower planting required but were able to supply material in large roll sizes of approximately 20m length and 2m width in just eight weeks from order for quick and easy laying on site. The embankment’s entire length with 4700m2 of cover was then laid in only six days.

A safe environment

Tilhill were responsible for implementation on site and the company’s site manager, Julian Hollingdale, comments: ‘Environment mitigation is a significant part of our business and we take special care in procurement and resourcing for this type of scheme. We were particularly pleased with the Coronet product and have the opportunity of ensuring successful establishment as part of our five year maintenance contract with the Environment Agency’

Coronet’s ‘big’ rolls are obviously beneficial when time is a factor but there are other significant advantages to be gained, says the company. Producing the turf on an impermeable membrane results in all root development being contained within the turf, creating a mat of roots that gives tremendous strength whilst handling, with less stress to the turf during lifting and laying. All grasses in the mix are native to the British Isles and are chosen to complement the flowers, not compete with them. This allows the flowers to succeed; rather than be swamped by the grasses, a not uncommon problem with conventional soil based wildflower turf or most wildflower seeding.

The formation of a dense sward, combined with the large roll sizes, means that the turf acts as a weed blanket allowing plants to establish, while preventing weed seeds.

Author Info:

Coronet Turf, Ashe Warren Farm, Overton, Nr Basingstoke, Hants RG25 3AW, UK.

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