Native or non-native plants, which is best?

The theme for this year’s soft landscaping workshop at Palmstead Nurseries in Ashford, Kent is “Native or non-native, which one’s best?” and so it seems appropriate that Kevin and Mark from Q Lawns will be going along with some samples of Meadowmat wild flower matting.

olympic wild flower meadowThe Olympic meadows certainly awakened our interest in planting for bees and other pollinating insects.  Our native fauna has evolved alongside and depends upon our native flora and so, with 98% of species rich grassland having disappeared in the last 6 decades, if we want to support biodiversity, it’s important to provide wildlife with the food sources and habitat they need.

Wild flowers on new developments

This is the principal behind the BREEAM league table that encourages planners, ecologists and developers to include native planting schemes in their projects.  It’s a great idea but unfortunately can encourage poor choices of plant and sometimes poor establishment and maintenance.  All that needs to be done to gain the BREEAM plants is sow seed – and that isn’t always a guarantee of success.

So when you see a wild flower area being sown in the greenspace on a new housing development, there is often no follow up or nurturing to ensure that unwanted plants are kept out or that the seed even grows at all – the seed is thrown down and abandoned – and so the objectives of the BREEAM scheme are unlikely to be achieved.

Meadowmat is one way of bringing native plants to new developments with a lot more certainty that they will at least establish.  Ongoing maintenance will determine how successful they are in the long term but at least they have a better chance.

Join the debate

The Palmstead Nurseries workshop will be examining the way in which plants are chosen and established in landscape projects, discussing the suitability of species and asking if, in some cases, non-native plants would be a better option.

To join the debate, go along to the workshop on Wednesday 25th September at Ashford International Hotel.   Registration is essential and the cost is a mere £22.50 which includes a rather lovely lunch, some high profile thought provoking speakers and a small exhibition of suppliers to the Landscape industry.  It’s a great place to be inspired!

Register online at www.palmstead .co.uk