DESIGN students in Dorchester are helping to transform the bowling green in the town’s Borough Gardens.

Garden Design students from Kingston Maurward College are helping to shape Dorchester’s heritage in a college competition to redesign the defunct bowling green in the town’s Borough Gardens.

The year-long project was initiated last spring by the Friends of Borough Gardens who contacted Dorset Wildlife Trust about planting a wildflower meadow.

However, although a meadow can be a worthwhile and ecological contribution to the local environment, they can also unfortunately often become overgrown and untidy.

In view of the proposed site Dorset Wildlife Trust suggested a more visually pleasing, and more worthy alternative, of a grass-free lawn.

This simple solution is low growing, comprises more than 20 plant species and, most importantly, is fifty times more effective to pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, than the more traditional wildflower meadow. This lawn would be grown in individual dense live ‘mats’ off site then laid in situ in a patchwork pattern for optimum visual impact.

The proposal was presented to a committee from Dorchester Town Council, who were so impressed that the project was adopted by Dorchester Town Mayor Peter Mann Kingston Maurward part-time Garden Design students and tutor Michelle Brown were approached in October and tasked with the design, a challenge they embraced, despite having only been studying Garden Design for two months.

The Garden Design students have been given professional feedback throughout the process, benefitting them with valuable experience in a live project, and whilst the winning design may not be able to be used in its entirety due to cost restrictions, elements will be worked in to the Borough Gardens project.

In a prize-giving ceremony at Kingston Maurward College, the winning ammonite inspired design was by practising GP Alison Blakeway, with runners up Vicky Saines, Stella Welch and Bridget Foster.

Winner Alison said: “I’m delighted to win, it was really good to work on such an interesting project, and a complete change from what I’m used to.

“Michelle is inspirational. I did the five-week introduction course and enjoyed it so much that I decided to do the year-long course afterwards. I love it.”

Mayor Peter Mann said: “Thank you to you all from Dorchester Town Council. I can hardly believe you are within twelve weeks of starting this course. We are bowled over by the presentation and sheer amount of thinking that went into the project.”

The project was funded by a grant provided by the Stanley Smith Horticulture Trust which provided seed trays, compost and plants. Dorset County Council will supply signage for the new gardens. The grand launch will take place on Easter Monday, April 6, when the lawn mats will be planted.

The event is being supported by the Bumble Bee Trust, Dorset Bee Keepers Association and Butterfly Conservation.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and kits will be available for people to create grass-free lawns in their own back gardens.

Dorset Wildlife Trust Officer, Joy Wallis, said: “I am really, really impressed with what was submitted, way better than I expected, brilliant!”

She added: “The students should be very proud.”