Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 4 May 2009

Greetings From Dorset: Sylvia's Roundabout


Sylvia kindly emailed me the other day with this picture of a roundabout she sees on her daily journey in Dorset. She likes the simplicity of the daisies and a week or so ago they were contrasting with bright yellow dandelions. Is it me or does anyone else think dandelions are particularly prolific this year?

Sylvia's e-mail was most timely as I'd been musing on dandelions and daisies too. The roadside verges around here are awash with them, topped by frothy cow parsley (now renamed Cow Mumble after Happy Mouffetard's recent post) which came into flower a couple of weeks ago. It's less so with our roundabouts, which seem to have the same kind of grass care as a back garden lawn: I can't really fathom why they need to be so neatly manicured.

I've also been reading about Nigel Dunnett's work at Sheffield University on the use of annual seed mixes in public planting and it struck me that this would be perfect for Chippenham's roundabouts, particularly on the town's outskirts. These have already been tried out to good effect on roundabouts in Gloucester and Telford. Whilst there would be some start-up costs for replanting them in Chippenham, I'm sure this would be offset by the reduced mowing needed. I've just noticed in Gardens Illustrated's Chelsea preview this month that Nigel Dunnett has a show garden there this year, so I'm hoping I can get to chat with him in a couple of weeks time.

So who knows, perhaps Chippenham's roundabouts will soon be topped with daisies, dandelions and other wildflower goodies soon.

9 comments:

  1. Definitely more dandelions this year. Have been noticing it here too. (Dorset, England)

    Thought of you the day before yesterday when I stood on Weymouth Sea Front and laughed at the Tulips in the huge planters all the way along the promenade (and everyone around me began to turn around and look at them too instead of at the kites and the sea when they heard).

    There are lots of exceptionally tall, pink ones, standing very high and daft above whatever is flowering below them and closer to the earth (I don't know what because I was too busy laughing at the tulips to notice.)

    I don't usually like tulips but this is the second lot I've enjoyed this year. (The previous ones were like little bonfires on stalks.)

    Daisies - no lawn should be without them. And the ones on this roundabout suit it delightfully. I notice there are some on the verge too.

    Annual seeds . . . I met someone once who was studying the changes in flora beside main roads because of the salt which is put there in the winter. Sort of creeping sea-side-ness.

    Esther

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  2. Yes - dandelions are really lighting up the verges this year.
    A propos Esther's comment on studying verges, I had a friend who was going to study the distribution of daisies on Bristol downs as her final year student project. We then suggested it might be related to the distribution of nitrogen rich fertiliser from the local dogs. She was less keen on the idea after that and went on to study mosses instead.

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  3. Dandelions, and daisies,have been very prolific this year, especially along roadside verges. xx

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  4. yep, got lots of dandelions up here too. We've also got some roundabouts with wildflowers on - perhaps the chap from Sheffield Uni has been nipping across to Chesterfield to sew seeds suruptitiously!!!

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  5. Yup, dandelions gallore. The thing with them is, if they were hard to grow we would all want them!
    Don't forget to come for a natter at Chelsea - I'll get some time off and come for a wander with you! Enjoy Malvern, I don't think I have time to go down after all which is a shame. We are going to Hampton Court though which should be good.

    WV is eptank which sounds sort of right.

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  6. A new roundabout near was planted up with annual wildflower seeds. The year before last there was an amazing display but last year it was not so good. I will be interested to see how things fair this year.

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  7. We always have lots of dandelions. Not to mention creeping buttercup! I would like them better on roundabouts than in my garden - wildlife-friendly, but with less chance of them sneaking into the borders and taking over from everything else.

    I think we may have more daisies this year though - I like having those in the lawn :)

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  8. That is so funny, i have also been thinking how magnificent the dandelions look this year. Also, i have seen them in a show garden at Cardiff show, and then during a visit to Jekka's herb farm, Jekka said she is planning to use them in her Chelsea display. Perhaps their time has come!

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  9. Esther - as a student I nearly did a transect across the whole of the Town Moor in Newcastle (a vast open space right in the heart of the city) to see what (if anything) changing lead levels (this was pre unleaded fuel days) might be doing to the flora. I quickly realised I'd chosen a PhD-size study instead of the required final year project and turned my attention to protein levels in cows instead.

    HM - were the mosses on the Bristol Downs too? See my previous comment to Esther as well.

    Flighty - it looks like my observation is much wider reaching :)

    Nutty Gnome - I wouldn't be surprised. His Chelsea garden will be planted out in inner city Sheffield after the show.

    Maggi - you're at the top of my list of must-sees at Chelsea :)

    Joanne - thanks you've reminded me of a question about planting longevity I need to ask Nigel Dunnett if I get the chance.

    Juliet - I haven't weed treated my lawn this year and in view of the long range weather forecast for the summer this could turn out to be a very goof thing as I suspect the weeds will be the only greenery left in the lawn!

    Lia - welcome! I'll keep an eye out for them at Chelsea. Hmm a garden entirely of weeds - that would be food for thought for a Chelsea show garden wouldn't it?

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