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Our coastal campus: Scarlet meadows

Written by Eve Hunter-Mann

Our meadows

Spring brings with it new beginnings, fresh bulbs and exciting wildlife - the season of reawakening for our gardens. And something which makes Scarlet and our rooms so unique is the large, lush meadow gardens surrounding the hotel, leading down to the South West Coast Path and the glistening Atlantic Ocean below.

Our gardening team have been working hard to make it an area filled with new species and flourishing wildflowers, dedicated to biodiversity. One of their key projects across the year has been to make Scarlet's cliffside meadows a year-round delight for our guests and local community. We caught up with the team to talk about the past, present and future plans for our meadows.

Process

The process in which our meadows are maintained and developed is a pivotal part to what makes them so unique and encourages the species we love to flourish. Firstly, the grass needs to be weakened to encourage vigorous growth of wildflowers, long term. Grass is a robust plant and will grow in abundance if not controlled. The process of weakening involves cutting the grass shorter in colder climates ready for the commencement of spring.

Wildflowers play a pivotal role in the biodiversity of our meadows as well as showcasing beauty for our guests. Native to the UK and Cornwall, they support and encourage native pollinators and wildlife to grow and reproduce. Pollinators, such as our beloved solitary bees (which play an important role in maintaining the harmony of the ecosystem), then reciprocate favours by transferring pollen, creating an abundance of biodiversity. Wildflowers are beneficial during the winter as they provide food sources from their seeds for wildlife as usually food is scarce in the colder months. Apart from their endless benefits to our ecosystem, our wildflowers are vivid in colour making them one of our gardens true natural wonders. Bright magenta, lavender, poppy red and yellow are just some of the vibrant hues that bless our meadows, making them truly wonderful.

Next, turf needs to be removed and soil exposed. This was achieved in the autumn by mowing, strimming, removing thatch and cultivating the designated areas. After this stage, lush Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) was sown in the area outside our Just Right rooms, creating vibrant pops of colour throughout the green. It's known as the ‘meadow maker’ and as well as being aesthetically pleasing, its parasitic quality weakens the grass, therefore, giving other species more room and ultimately, encouraging wildflowers to dominate. The Yellow Rattle needs cold temperatures to germinate, which is why the seeds were sown during the cool autumnal climate. As the next few months pass, it will begin to bloom just in time for hazy summer days. As for spring, a mixture of perennial and annual flowers will be sown in April as the surrounding bulbs begin to blossom into fresh colours.

New and native species of heather have also been introduced in rich varieties, amongst our clifftops where the surrounding landscape meets our meadows. Heather is resilient in a variety of climates as well as bringing soft summer hues to the clifftop greenery. Scarlet was designed to harmonise with and enhance the surrounding landscape; the building’s organic curves and lines are hugged by the cliff top and the sympathetically planted grounds help merge the hotel property with the rest of the coastline.

Purpose

There's more to our meadows than unique wildlife and captivating flowers, it provides endless environmental benefits and helps support the very ecosystem we live in. As well as providing a habitat for different species of bird, insect and mammal, it supports a range of pollinating wildlife, thus, promoting the growth of native flowers and plants all over the local area.

For our guests, and local community, our meadows act as an exciting display of colour and scenery along with an abundance of different aromas, textures, and sounds to invigorate the senses. Moreover, it's a space of education for all ages and opens up curiosity and important conversations regarding our planet and the environment. Alongside educational factors, our meadows are a sanctuary for our guests, an area of tranquillity, relaxation and reflection, ethos's that resonate within Scarlet. As a feature with many elements, they are truly wonderful and, with dedication, will continue to evolve every year.

Striving for longevity is important when it comes to our gardens as it allows for processes that support sustainability, such as pollination, to take place over and over again. Conservation of wildlife comes at the forefront of our meadows, and our purpose, as the species that live amongst us are what drives biodiversity. Protecting wildlife and preserving it for future generations means that the species we love don't become a distant memory.

Potential

The future of our meadows will take shape as a long-term project as the wildlife and ecosystems will be constantly developing every year. Because it takes time and patience to establish a beautiful wildflower meadow, guests will notice the area is constantly evolving, with grass levels diminishing, and wildflowers becoming more prominent.

Yellow Rattle is self-seeding meaning it contributes to grass control if well maintained, providing a long-term reduction in grass levels. As a semi-parasitic species, it draws some of its nutrients though grass roots and increases biodiversity in wild flower meadows, such as ours. Because of its parasitic nature, the growth of grass is suppressed, which can allow conditions to become more receptive for the development of other wildflower species. Often, Yellow Rattle spreads to other areas within the meadow, aiding self-sufficiency. Alongside this, overall maintenance and upkeep of the meadows' appearance will be kept under control, allowing our garden team to dedicate their focus on new plantations and species conservation.

In 2022, our garden team will be sowing rich varieties of wildflowers which will eventually blossom into fresh petals of all hues, textures, aromas and colours. Corncockle, Cornflower, Corn Marigold, Field Poppies, Field Forget Me Nots, Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Borage, Ox Eye Daisies, Red and White Campion and Teasels are just some of the varieties in our gardens' future plans.

What makes our gardens truly unique and, thus, sets us apart from others is our passion for sustainability and preservation. Our long term plans strive to make positive impacts on both our guests and the planet. We're excited to see our meadows grow and flourish every year, as new flowers bloom and different projects begin. Follow our garden journey as we work to make Scarlet and Bedruthan's gardens a place of education, sustainability and wonder.

If you have any questions about our meadow or coastal gardens, please email [email protected] or message via social media.

Apprentice gardener Rich

Apprentice gardener Lucy

    Ages