A disused site transformed
We recently had the challenge of turning a disused asphalt tennis court into an area for native wildflowers. Moss and Carex pendula (weeping sedge) had taken hold over parts of the area, but other than that it was bare. The tennis court was built on perhaps 50cm of coarse stone and gravel, underneath which is clay subsoil.
Native annuals flowering in July
Many native wild flowers thrive on poor soil, and one way of impoverishing overly fertile soil is to import and incorporate hardcore. Based on this idea, we figured this was what we had in abundance, perhaps too much, but would there be enough moisture retained for the wild flower seed to germinate and establish?
To start off, we used a digger to break up the asphalt and gravel, and roll it. Then a mixture of cornfield annuals and native perennials was sown, raked in and watered. The idea behind sowing both annuals and perennials was that the annuals would germinate and grow quickly, provide colour in the first year and help suppress weeds. Meanwhile the perennials could germinate and establish more slowly.
The site after preparation and sowing
This was done in April, and as it was we had fairly damp and not overly hot weather, just right for the germination process. We also continued to water the area and within 2 weeks the first seedlings were up. Now in late July we have a lovely display of the annuals and the perennials are establishing underneath. There were a few small patches where germination wasn't so good, but overall the coverage is very good. Evidently these rather ephemeral looking plants, such as poppies and cornflowers, are quite happy on this site, and so our question as to the suitability of the site is answered very much in the affirmative.
Native cornfield annuals
Later this year when flowering has ceased we will cut everything off and leave it in situ to breakdown. Next year the perennials should have established and will provide colour from then on - no doubt we will post pictures!
Posted 01 August 2015
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