The “fantastic” success of Hever Castle’s use of Rigby Taylor’s Euroflor urban meadow flower seed mixes has spurred the Kent-based stately home.
Hever Castle will not only increase the number of areas that will be planted next year and existing plots enlarged, but it has also led to additional, similar projects off-site and the potential launch of a retail scheme which could see the flower seeds being offered to visitors.
Sitting on an estate covering over 400 acres, including an adjoining golf course, the project initiated by Hever Castle Golf Club head greenkeeper Rob Peers to “encourage visitors to both the golf course and the estate to fully enjoy and be immersed by and engaged with the complete site” has, he says, “been an overwhelming success” with the varied displays attracting:
 A social media frenzy of visitor photos, plus local and national press coverage;
 An endless stream of laudable comments from visitors, as well as from Hever Castle staff and proprietors; and
 Numerous requests (from visitors) asking how they can achieve similar displays of the eye-catching colours and wonderful scents.
After carefully choosing a number of strategic areas for meadow flower seeding, some by the golf course and others between the course and the estate, a variety of Euroflor mixes (from Top Green, the largest seed producer in Europe) were selected; mixes identified as ‘best fit’ options in terms of colour and height, as well as in texture and form. The chosen mixes were:
 Flora Britannica – 26 species including Black Medick, Viper’s Bugloss and Red Clover;
 Rainbow annuals – 14 species including English Marigold, Tickseed and China Aster;
 Posy (cut flower mix), comprising 12 species;
 Sarah Bouquet – 30 species;
 Peace (white), six to eight species;
 Honey – 12 species including Borage, Cosmos and Baby’s Breath; and
 The Souvenir 100% Red Poppy mix.
“After clearing the unused, mainly overgrown plots – which largely entailed the removal of grass, brambles and weeds – the areas were prepared for seeding and there is no doubt that the key to flowering success was in the preparation of the beds, especially the applications of weedkiller,” says Rob.
“We sowed on May 21-23 and within just five days saw the first seeds germinate. Despite having no rain for the following 62 days, we enjoyed a fantastic display beginning at the end of July – and it continues to last now [October] well into late autumn.”
Lack of natural rainfall this summer put obvious pressure on germination and plant growth: “But I was determined the project wouldn’t fail, and it was a case of all hands to the pump – including family members – to keep the seeds/flowers watered using bowsers and watering cans three times a week. Since the end of July, when it did rain again, the plots have largely taken care of themselves.”
He adds: “It would be egotistical to say that the displays have added to the footfall here – Hever Castle puts on many added-value attractions throughout the summer to attract visitors – but there has clearly been more people making their ways to the areas of the estate where we planted and there’s been lots of favourable comments.”
In addition, Rob says, “I’ve never seen so many pollinators on the estate – a wonderful sight” – an aspect that is in tune with his enthusiasm for biodiversity and environmental issues.
For 2019, a number of the areas will be left ‘to do their own thing’ in terms of re-seeding, while other patches will be expanded and new areas added. In addition, the success of the meadow flower seed mixes has also generated plans for plantings on other properties.
And now, due to visitor response, discussions are taking place about the possibility of retail offerings – perhaps packets of seed, or potted wildflowers or, indeed, a ‘lay down and plant’ package using Rigby Taylor’s FloraFleece biodegradable matting, which will eliminate the need for extensive soil preparation.