They came, they partied and they ‘trampled’ – next year Stroud could well have a wonderful show of wildflowers thanks to Stroud Fringe festival goers.
When the Fringe organisers asked to set up the Ecotricity stage at Wallbridge, Mike Dando, who manages the town council’s Green Spaces Team saw the opportunity.
“Our team looks after ‘pocket’ park near Brewery Bridge and for the past few years we have had had “pictorial” meadow flowers planted,” said Mike.
A pictorial meadow is a mixture of particularly colourful annual flowers, although mostly non-native species.
“In 2013 the flowers were especially spectacular probably because the seed received a good tramping down by the crowds that turned out to watch the Olympic Torch,” he said.
So the team decided to try the same process again.
Before the Fringe, they cut and raked the tall grass then scarified the patch. The scarifying removes grass thatch and acerates bare patches for seed to germinate, whilst allowing existing vegetation to recover. Scarification is like a glorified raking, allowing some bare earth patches for the seed to make contact with.
Then they sowed a native meadow seed mix and let the festival goers do the rest.
“The trampling gives a good contact between the seeds and the soil. They do not need to be covered with soil, but contact is needed for germination,” says Mike.
“But once germinated, the less footfall the better for a few months.”
There will be two sorts of meadow displays at Wallbridge. There will be the “pictorial meadow” which is more flower based and has poppies, cornflowers, toadflax and clasping coneflower amongst others. It is more suited to areas where people just wish to see the beauty.
Then the larger trampled area will be a wildflower meadow, fine for walking and sitting on, and will have a variety of grasses, such as slender-creeping red-fescue, common bent, crested dogs-tail, quaking grass, sweet vernal-grass and smaller cats-tail.
Within the grasses there will be such flower species as common and greater knapweeds, wild carrot, hedge bedstraw, ladies bedstraw, field scabious, oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, sainfoin, self-heal and wild red clover.
There is a plant called yellow rattle, which feeds off the roots of the coarser grasses, helping to limit these which in turn gives space for the fine grasses and wild flower species.
“The town council is a sponsor of the Fringe so it is a nice ending to the event to know that next spring we will have a wonderful – I hope – perennial wildflower meadow in the centre of the town as a reminder of a great festival,” said Mike.