Wildflowers and Grasses
June 22, 2016 - Andrew Cannell
The Garden Team have received a number of negative comments about the long grass at the Museum recently, so I wanted to provide my views on the more relaxed state of the banks and verges this year, which for me, are incredibly exciting.
We have some wonderful areas where nature has provided us with a free, flowering spectacle. In the spring, I adore the primroses and bugle and now, alongside the main pathway from the car park we have a patch of hawksweed (Hieraceum) which is buzzing with bees and butterflies and carpets the area with bright spots of yellow. The vertical accent and movement of the long grasses and their tawny and soft purple colours really balance the bright yellow perfectly.
On the banks in Mount Vernon there is a small geranium with pale lilac flowers that are electrified with magenta veins and is complemented beautifully with more hawksweed and grasses.
Perhaps my favourite grass that I’ve spotted so far is on top of the bank above the Tepee. It is the delicate, dangling quaking grass (Briza media) which has subtle, oval-shaped flowers tinged with purple held to perfection on fine stems away from the main stalk. I sat and watched it one evening dancing gently in the breeze with its more sturdy cousins and was spell-bound.
I am really pleased to see the common spotted orchid reappear, in greater numbers than last year, on the bank opposite Reception. By delaying the strimming last year, we have encouraged the orchids to spread and hopefully next year they will be even more profuse.
In the future I have plans to try to increase the diversity and number of the wildflowers by sowing yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), which is a hemi-parasitic plant that steals nutrients away from grasses and allows more space to develop for wildflowers. I have noticed huge swathes of it on Bath Golf Course and the meadows between Widcombe and Bathwick Hills; the effect is eye-opening.
I can understand that allowing the land to relax can feel like we’re ceding control which can be rather scary but the benefits are multiple – we have a new aesthetic to admire, we are doing our bit for the humble bumble bee and wider ecology, we are saving labour and fuel and importantly we are encouraging a relatively rare commodity – calcareous meadowland – to flourish.
Of course, I don’t fully intend to cede control to nature. Gardening is, if nothing else, all about control and our ability to shape the landscape around us. We will be endeavouring to keep pathways well-defined and the driveway clear of overhanging grasses and if anyone does have concerns I welcome them to chat to me about them.
March 13, 2017
Volunteers Go Visiting!
As part of the knowledge sharing programme for our volunteers we include regular visits to other local heritage venues, and in a reciprocal […]
December 9, 2016
Christmas 2016: A whistle-stop tour
For our 2016 Christmas displays, we are celebrating traditional toys and games from American history. Each of our Period Rooms […]
October 31, 2016
Cristmas Craft Fair: Meet the Makers
With our Christmas Craft Fair just a few weeks away, we though we’d share some of the exciting work that will […]
African-American American arts Bath Spa University behind-the-scenes Christmas Churchill Civil War collections colour costume craft fair curatorial displays events exhibition Fair families Family Fun film flowers Folk Art garden Gardens grounds groups Kaffe Fassett learning literature loan museum Museum Volunteer Native American photography politics quilts review takeoverday Talks Textiles The Last Runaway Tracy Chevalier volunteering workshops yarn bombing