Innumerable visitors to the park this summer have commented on the visual spectacular provided by the wildflower meadow in front of the village copse. Various failed attempts at planting have happened over the years, including seeding and plug planting by Dulwich Park Friends and others, but the stumbling block always proved to be the prolific growth of grass and weeds, even if stripped back initially.
This season the park manager, Paul Highman, decided on a more drastic approach to give any meadow a chance of succeeding, by controlled treatment of the grass with glyphosate, applied in still conditions by specialists. Once the grass had died back, the area was seeded with mix supplied by Pictorial Meadows - seed mixes and plant listings can be found on their website: www.pictorialmeadows.co.uk.
Although watering is not usually recommended for wildflowers, a dry spell made this unavoidable if the seeds were to take off. This paid dividends, with the plants springing into life in July and still thriving at the end of October. The constant humming and buzzing from the meadow paid testament to the bio-diversity it encouraged in the park.
Once the plants have gone to seed, they will be cut and shaken to provide a seed bank in the ground to be topped up next season. The approximate cost of creating the meadow, excluding the one-off cost of the wooden knee-rail, was £2,300.
Paul Highman considers a mini meadow feasible in the domestic garden. To suppress grass and weeds he recommends covering the proposed meadow area in a piece of old carpet or other non light-permeable sheeting over the winter and into spring, before sowing seed in accordance with the supplier’s recommendations.
Further landscaped areas created as part of the flood works have already been seeded to bloom with perennials next year - in front of the Francis Peek Centre and alongside the bowling green, so more visual treats are in store.
Whilst mentioning the flood works, to add to earlier awards, Southwark Council and Thames Water Utilities received the British Construction Industry Sustainability Award in October, for the overall Herne Hill scheme. Some fencing will remain around the new meadow sites until established next season, but otherwise the floodworks fencing will be removed by the year end.
Two hundred kilograms of soil from Dulwich Park, along with that from many others, are currently in a triangular box in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, within Abraham Cruzvillegas’ installation Empty Lot. Part of the curiosity surrounding the piece is quite what will grow in each box during its stay until 3rd April 2016.
While on the subject of art, the Friends supplied several of the images of Two Forms (Divided Circle) that appear in the Tate Britain video Animating the Archives: Barbara Hepworth’s Sculpture Records. This film, aimed at a younger audience, can be viewed online at www.tate.org.uk/...