As part of Course Manager Matt Aplin’s strategy to improve the ecological footprint of the Goring and Streatley Golf Club, the “amazingly colourful results” of sowing Euroflor wildflowers “attracted as many complimentary comments about the outstanding display of colour as about the quality and performance of our greens”, he says.
“That was in a year when the course was magnificent – it was looking immaculate and was playing very well – so the display of wildflowers obviously made a massive impression on everyone who saw them,” he adds. “The news travelled fast about the swathe of colours and we even had non-playing visitors coming to see the display.”
Since Matt was appointed Course Manager at the Berkshire club in 2015 – after joining the greenkeeping team as an apprentice 20 years ago – he has constantly looked for opportunities to improve the course’s ecological footprint and last year identified a rough area adjacent to the 14th hole that he wanted to improve: “I was bouncing my thoughts about the possible use of wildflowers off Gareth Acteson, Rigby Taylor’s area sales director, and he suggested that the Euroflor mix (rather than native species) might work better in that spot.
“The Sarah Bouquet mix of annuals was chosen on the advice of club member Joyce Gustard, who is renowned among the membership for the quality of the floral display in her own garden, and that was definitely a wise move because a few months after sowing the area was awash with colour.”
Sarah Bouquet is a mix of 30 different species, including Anethum Graveolens, Borago Officinalis, Callistephus Chinensis, Helianthus Annuus, Helichrysum Bracteatum, Lobularia Maritima, Lupinus Nanus and Rudbeckia Gloriosa, and has a flowering height of 70-90 cms.
Adding that he uses a lot of Rigby Taylor products on the 18-hole, par 71 course, not least the R9 100% ultra-fine rye seed mix, Matt says: “We didn’t do too much preparation for sowing the wildflower seeds and we undoubtedly over-sowed in terms of seed ratio, but the impact was tremendous from June right through to October.
“That success, and the number of favourable comments we received, has spurred us to double the overall amount of space sown with Euroflor wildflowers this year and because we have used less seed (perhaps just 65% of what we sowed last year on a similar-sized plot), we will effectively have double the amount of colour for a relatively low additional cost.”
Matt recovered some of the cost of the outlay on seed by re-selling small Discovery packs (also supplied by Rigby Taylor) of the wildflower seeds. “After seeing the flowers, some members wanted the seeds for their gardens,” says Matt.
At the end of last season Matt cut down the plants and left them where they fell, to encourage natural seeding. “Already now [in May] some of last year’s seeds are 45 cms high”, he says. “And that is as a result of using an annuals mix. That equates to real value for money.”