I popped out to the lawn today after the big storm we just had and found the first blue pea (Parochetus communis) of the season. In the past the blue pea has started its flowering in the first week of November, so this one is a few days early. I’m still rather hoping for a few more before the temperature drops and the frosts begin.
The first Blue Pea of Autumn 2013
British Summer Time (BST) ends this weekend and its clocks back an hour to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). A national week of jet lag looms, not that the lawns will notice.
The largest experimental lawn at Reading is looking just fine. There is a bit of a growth spurt coming from the Blue Pea (Parochetus communis), it’s leaves are showing up all over the place and this bodes well for something of a November show. It’ll be a race for the pea to come into full flower before the first ground frost of the season. I’ve seen it happen once and the carpet of blue in November is rather lovely.
The Autumn lawn
I planted three bulbs of the Autumn saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) when the lawn was laid and I’m pleased to see they remain. Actually a couple more blooms popped up after this photo was taken and indicate that the corms are quite happy. The thin strap like leaves are yet to show and will last through the winter until cut by the first Spring mowing.
Saffron crocus in the lawn
At this time of the year lawn foliage really seems to come into its own. There are few flowers but still plenty of colour and visual interest.
Close up in the autumnal lawn
The other experimental lawns are also showing some interesting effects too; although now my research at Reading is concluding the maintenance is a wee bit lax.
Two of the Chelsea exhibit lawns are covered with the Blue Pea foliage I mentioned. I think I’ll wait and let the first frosts act like a mower and strike back the foliage rather than take a blade to them. The one exhibit that had the least amount of Blue Pea I did cut a couple of weeks back to let in the light. It usually takes about three weeks for a grass-free lawn to aesthetically recover, so you can still see the effects of the chop, but even so, the exhibit lawn is to my mind still rather interesting.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit lawn, six months after the show…
No frosts yet in Reading, just lots of high winds and rain interspersed with low autumnal sunshine – all surprisingly normal considering the odd weather of the past few years. I am keeping my fingers crossed the above average temperatures linger long enough to add a photo of the pea in bloom on the lawn in November.
It’s perhaps a little longer at 20 mins, than seems to be the current trend in video uploads, but this video is as much an aide memoir for me as for those who may be interested. I spend more time than I realise having a close look at the large trial lawn at the beginning of October 2013.
It clearly demonstrates of how a dense multi-species sward has developed over three years. I point out some of the species I’ve used in this particular lawn and it shows what sort of effect you might expect after three years. My apologies for some of the focusing, but that’s automatic cameras and poorly charged batteries for you.
Close-up overview of the lawn Oct 2013
I’ve been a wee bit busy of late and now I’ve just finished all my data collection. It’s an odd feeling. Analysis and write up is underway. The completion of my project work looms large.
I was over at Avondale Park a couple of weeks back. I have a bit of a gripe about the management or lack of. The lawn has developed quite well but the maintenance is a bit of an issue. The lawn could do with a dedicated weeding session since the grass and plant species from the previous meadow are now quite evident.
Since the experimental lawns elsewhere all had the top 6cm of soil removed before laying, the seed bank in the soil was largely removed. This didn’t happen in Avondale and there are more uninvited species than I would like and with little ongoing maintenance they have been allowed to settle in. Not a good idea to my mind. I suspect the weeds in the lawn will now seed themselves and perpetuate the situation. Ah well!
Here’s what some of the weed free areas of Avondale look like:
From a little further back the lawn still looks quite nice, even though the mower had been applied about 10 days earlier.
Avondale 30 Sept 2013 – two weeks after being mown
I still occasionally get told it can’t be a lawn since there is no grass. Well, there’s no grass in thyme lawns or chamomile lawns, or yarrow lawns or selfheal lawns, or leptinella lawns or peanut lawns or…..well you get the idea. This is special however, since it is the first lawn to specifically use lots and lots of plant species rather than just one.
I’ve got some rather interesting research results now – (all good I might add). I’ll be sharing some of my findings shortly. Watch this space.