York University in Bloom
York University is home to more than 16,000 students across nine colleges. The main campus in Heslington has recently undergone a massive £750m campus expansion programme which included a programme to develop the landscape of the Heslington East campus, a site now supporting growing populations of wildlife and wild flowers.
The University has a 25-strong team of grounds staff headed up by Grounds Maintenance Manager, Gordon Eastham. Together, they are responsible for maintaining the 500-acre parkland campus, plus grounds at the Kings Manor site with a year round programme of planting, pruning and grass cutting.
The campus grounds are high profile and always on view; making it imperative that they are maintained to a high standard. As part of the expansion programme, Gordon and his team were tasked with supporting the biodiversity of the campus to make sure it is a suitable habitat for wildlife and wildflowers, whilst making it look attractive for students and visitors.
Gordon contacted John Chambers Wildflower Seed for help and advice.
The John Chambers Wildflower Seed team advised on species, campus ground conditions and wildlife goals before suppling the most appropriate seed for the various areas to be planted around the campus, which made up around 10% of the university estate.
The John Chambers Conservation Best 6 Annuals Mix featured heavily in the planting scheme and produced a spectacular display of colour. The mix includes Poppy, Cornflower and Marigold; the different colours and flowering habits are exceptionally complimentary to each other and produce a uniquely showy and colourful combination.
On site visits were made and advice was given before, during and post planting to ensure this high profile, large-scale planting project was successful.
The campus has been in full bloom and been well received. Wentworth Way roundabout, in particular, has proved so popular that several residents have taken it upon themselves to write to the regional newspaper, the York Press. They covered the story about the “absolutely stunning wildflower display at the University Road roundabout”, advising how readers had described it; “wow – what a display! I am chuffed to bits to have seen it” and “surely this must be the most beautiful roundabout in Britain.”
“We have had a great deal of success this year with our wildflower areas and found that it is definitely advantageous to try and do autumn sowings, particularly of the annuals. The Best 6 Annuals mix has performed particularly well and given us some high impact pockets of colour around campus in several high profile areas, which in turn has provoked a great deal of interest and lots of appreciative feedback.
Approximately 10% of the University estate is now given over to wildflowers (mostly perennials) and the aim now is to systematically broaden the species range via help and advice from our seed suppliers at John Chambers Wildflower Seeds.”
Gordon Eastham, University Grounds Maintenance Manager