Just a few images of the Myerscough lawn. The season is changing and the lawn is quieting down for the winter, but there are still places for the eyes to wander. I for one never get bored of the complexity that develops.

I find myself just looking and contemplating, it’s almost like a soothing meditation – although inevitably my eye spots a blade or two of the grasses that need removing. I also find I quite like to tend to the task, somehow taking care of the lawn has a therapeutic effect too. Looking after a thing of beauty (to my eyes anyway) somehow doesn’t seem a hardship.

Myerscough lawn tangle 1

Myerscough lawn tangle 1

Myerscough lawn tangle 3

Myerscough lawn tangle 2

The blue pea Parachetus communis beats the frost this year.

The blue pea Parachetus communis beats the frost this year.

I was recently invited to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala to give a talk on tapestry lawns. It seems that T-lawns create debate wherever they are discussed. Generating as much scepticism and confusion as admiration and enthusiasm. A key question was would they work in Sweden? It is hard to say with any certainty yay or nay on that point, but Sweden has many of the same useable plant species and maybe its worth a try? A public survey carried out by Professor Maria Ignatieva’s LAWN research team at the university indicated that there was roughly a 50/50 split between those who thought it was a good idea and those that couldn’t see themselves finding it comfortable to walk or sit on flowering plants.

Remarkable how some can walk on a flowering daisy or clover without much thought in a grass lawn but find it uncomfortable in a T-lawn. Certainly I have one student that now makes it almost a habit to stride across the Myerscough lawn whenever he gets the chance, and another young hortic surprised me when he said he’d thought T-lawns had been around for ages since it was such an obvious garden feature to have. I’m not sure what I make of that, but it did make me smile.

Autumn in the North West

The Myerscough T-lawn is the only one I get regular access to at the moment. The temperatures are dropping and the autumn slowdown is apparent in the lawn.

Just a couple of images I took today while I picked out the odd bit of grass, and unfortunately since we are not too far from the coast some swine cress (Coronopus didymus) too.

Myerscough autumn lawn

Myerscough autumn lawn

Myerscough autumn lawn 2

Myerscough autumn lawn 2

The T lawn has been the topic of conversation at the college and a much larger one – Avondale Park size is on the cards in a rather prominent position….

Myerscough Magic

I’ve been most neglectful of this blog, I shall blame it on being distracted and do my best to catch up on correspondence now I have a bit of holiday time.

The Myerscough T lawn

The Myerscough T lawn

The T lawn at Myerscough College has almost fully filled its honoured spot in the middle of the kitchen garden and has had its first mowing courtesy of our resident gardener Sam. I am always interested to see how someone responds to taking a mower to a flowering T lawn and Sam it seems is a natural. Without hesitation and with only one tweak on the height of the mower he boldly took the blade to the lawn – and did a fine job.

I thought I’d show the T lawn prior to being shorn of flowers!

Myerscough T lawn close-up

Myerscough T lawn close-up

I was charmed by the first blue bells of Campanula rotundifolia. Alas, they were removed by the mower. Not to worry though, they’ll be back – although I’m not sure when that might be, they seem to grow a bit slower here in Lancashire than they did in Berkshire and I suspect a second flush might not happen. It is inevitable that T lawns will be products of their environment. I have noticed it does seem to be a bit cooler and somewhat wetter here in Lancashire than in the south of England.

Myerscough t lawn close-up 2

Myerscough t lawn close-up 2

The blue flowers in this image come from a type of Lobelia erinus, the hanging basket type I suspect. The central circle of the kitchen garden where the T lawn is, has been used for many different planting schemes in the past. A result of that and the planting format used for this particular lawn, has been that plants from previous uses have been popping up all over the place. The mower was able to deal with any of the taller plants  Рwe had quite a lot of sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) and borage (Borago officinalis)!

I noted previously that in the experimental lawns at Reading that basket lobelia would also sometimes pop up (goodness knows where from). It is an annual that seems to do surprisingly well. I haven’t considered annuals much due to the perennial nature of lawns, perhaps I should.

 

Myerscough lawn taking shape

Just a bit of a peek at the new student project tapestry lawn at Myerscough College. This one is unusual in that there were not enough trays of plants to cover the space. It meant that all the plants used were necessarily

spaced out to fit the area, with some bare soil between them. This has presented some maintenance challenges – but I will say more on that later…

Myerscough's kitchen garden tapestry lawn

Myerscough’s kitchen garden tapestry lawn

Back garden lawn

Having been inspired to start last year (2014), tapestry lawn enthusiast Gillian has given over her rear garden traditional grass lawn to the avant-garde.

Turning this:

Previous grass lawn

Previous grass lawn

Into this:

New tapestry lawn

New tapestry lawn

Gillian’s methodology has taken a little extra time as she chose to start with individual plants rather than single species trays, but the methodology has worked none-the-less.

Starting with plants rather than trays

Starting with plants rather than trays

It is amazing what a little patience and dedication can achieve.

I’m always very pleased when people are able to share how they have achieved their own tapestry lawns. If you have one of your own please do share an image. As with any new concept there is always plenty to learn.

As it happens I am learning (a little unintentionally) how slightly different approaches can (hopefully) achieve the same outcomes. The new student project tapestry lawn at Myerscough College has been created. There weren’t quite enough trays of plants to completely fill the space, so some unplanned for well spaced planting became the order of the day, in a manner rather similar to Gillians – but with trays. It looks a little unusual at the moment. Once it’s settled in I’ll share an image or two.

Oakham

Ever at the front of new ideas and ways of doing things, Oakham School, Rutland, in conjuction with a well known garden designer, has under the watchful eye of grounds manager Richard Dexter developed its own four part tapestry lawn as part of a major redesign of the central school quad.

I know that Richard was both very enthusiastic and understandably professionally cautious. Tapestry lawns are a very new direction for lawn horticulture and like most new things, they can take a bit of getting used to. Although apparently the school science staff took to it immediately. Yay for science!!! Hortiscience rules!!! Ahem, back in the room.

It is inevitably a major investment by the school and has to be both aesthetically intriguing and attractive, educationally useful and stand up to pupils short cutting across the quad.

I’m totally delighted to learn from Richard today,¬† and I quote: ” the lawn is getting better and better all the time and I can’t believe how little work it really needs.”

He has kindly allowed me to share a couple of images of the school’s four part lawn.

Oakham School Quad

Oakham School Quad

Quad 2

I can’t help thinking that there isn’t another school quad anywhere else in the world quite like this one!!

 

New front garden lawn

I had the delight of receiving a message from a tapestry lawn enthusiast who had taken it upon herself to transform her small front lawn.

Kara I salute you! It is quite a lovely transformation. The first self-made small front garden tapestry lawn that I know of.

She has graciously allowed me to post a few images to show how she did it.

The previous lawn.

Gets the spade treatment

All ready…

Time for a spot of growing…

A spot of planting….

And after a bit of patient waiting….

and lo, it came to pass, a lovely new T lawn. Yay!!!

I am utterly, utterly delighted. Well executed Kara!

A new lawn emerges…

It’s been a while since I added an update to my Reading Blog and many things have changed. Not least that I have morphed into Dr Lionel Smith, Lecturer in Horticulture – at Myerscough College in Lancashire (Shhh – don’t tell Reading I’m still blogging). A new circular Tapestry Lawn is due to appear at Myerscough this coming May.

The location for the Myerscough Tapestry lawn - with degree students Joel and Chris removing the columnar yew.

The location for the Myerscough Tapestry lawn – with degree students Joel and Chris removing the columnar yew.

To my delight it’s a student led project. Students have already moved a columnar yew tree and prepared the ground with some vigorous weeding and digging. The old Research & Development Glasshouse at Myerscough Plant World is now full of trays and pots of Tapestry Lawn plants. It’s quite exciting!

Easily as exciting has been the community tapestry lawn project for Dorchester’s old bowling green in the centre of town in Borough Gardens.

Supported by the current Mayor Peter Mann (Happy Mayor), a group that included prime mover Joy Wallis – Community Conservation Officer of the Dorset Wildlife Trust and esteemed councillors came for a visit to Reading last year. We wandered the campus – with brave individuals taking the plunge and tentatively walking on the tapestry lawns that have been grown and cultivated entirely by the university grounds staff and visiting the recently moved experimental lawns.

Inspired by what they saw (a common comment was – you have to see a tapestry lawn to fully appreciate it, rather like the presenters on one of those jewellery channels tell you about a gemstone) and stymied by the lack of an immediate commercial format, a plan for a community grown lawn was hatched.

With support from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, Dorset Council, The Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Garden Group, not to mention local schools, colleges, garden centres and gardeners, the job of filling over 1500 trays of plants was undertaken Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Community Supporters of the Dorchester tapestry lawn

Community Supporters of the Dorchester tapestry lawn

On Easter Monday (April 6th) the grand lawn laying took place, with music, refreshments, stalls and the most glorious sunshine. The lawn layout follows an original design produced by a student from a local college that includes pathways through the lawn.

Prepared location

Prepared location

Alas, some of the trays had yet to put forth their precious plant cargo – and with the common sense of gardeners they will be part of a phase two planting when the trays are ready for planting.

The prepared ground and a mixture of ready and not so ready trays

The prepared ground and a mixture of ready and not so ready trays

 

Plenty of the trays were plant laden, and in a constant stream that occurred all morning and afternoon, people of all ages continued to bring their contributory trays to the gardens for planting..

Bit by bit the lawn took shape. First a few bulbs were planted and then bit by bit (and following the plan marked out on the soil, the lawn was laid.

Planting started

Planting started

I stayed for as long as I was able, buoyed up by the energy and enthusiasm that was a feature of the day. At one stage there was a dinosaur invasion ….

Dinosaur on the lawn (it had scared off all the zombies)

Dinosaur on the lawn (it had scared off all the zombies)

I wish I could have stayed longer.

The lawn took shape…

Taking shape

Taking shape

Taking shape 2

Taking shape 2

And then I had to leave ( I wish I hadn’t, I might have avoided sitting in traffic jams on the M5 that were so extensive that I managed to read two chapters of a book…!)

Just before I left we had a visitor to the newly laid lawn:

Lawn magic

Lawn magic

A small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae L.) butterfly! It bodes well I think.

Summer lull

The lawns beside the bee hives have regenerated post mowing. It is always something that seems to surprise new observers of grass-free lawns.

The temperature has strangely been dropping a degree every couple of days, we’ve gone from 30C to 17C in the daytime in just over three weeks (most peculiar for mid-august) and there has been plenty of rain. There aren’t that many flowers, but here’s an image.

Mid-august

Mid-august

A closer look will show some of the non-native species are continuing to put through flowers, and in the dips in the lawn the chamomile that missed the mowers blade has plenty of flowers.

I notice the lawn has something of a yellow and silver sheen from the all variegated plants and particularly the silverweed.

Yellow and silver

Yellow and silver

I imagine that this autumn will be quite golden in the lawn when the silverweed’s leaves turn colour before vanishing for the winter.