Local Seed and Ecotype Choices
For each order Emorsgate Seeds endeavour to supply seed stocks that are as closely matched in type and origin as possible to the intended use. To be certain that the wild flower and wild grass seed we offer for sale through our website and by mail order is genuinely wild we collect stock seed ourselves from wild plant populations around Britain. These stocks are then grown as seed crops on our farms in Norfolk and in Somerset.
We now hold a large collection of species collected from a wide range of sites and locations. Using this resource we aim to be able to offer representative forms and ecotypes of all the species we sell. As a result the seeds we offer individually and in mixtures are generally appropriate for sowing throughout the British Isles.
Realistically however, as seed growers, we can only ever hope to offer a very small fraction of the rich diversity that makes up British flora. We will never be in a position to offer, off the shelf, mixtures in which all the components are precisely matched to each individual location or habitat.
Practical Options for Intended Use
The intended application of wild seed will have a great bearing on the appropriate choice of seed stocks: factors such as the scheme objectives, its location and the proximity to any sites of botanical or conservation interest or sensitivity.
For most general landscape applications we believe that British native wild origin flowers in combination with wild origin grasses and some appropriate amenity grass varieties offer the most suitable, and economic solution and is the basis on which our mixtures are formulated.
For conservation projects, where origin is a high priority, we can offer a range of alternative options and strategies and would be pleased to offer advice or mixture suggestions tailored to your particular requirements.
Options can include:
- Specifying 100% wild origin grasses as well as wild flowers
- Regionally based custom mixtures
- Local seed harvesting from a suitable donor site
- Contract growing seeds collected from your site
The full range of options with regard to seed origin are discussed in more detail in the associated pages. Wild flower seed origin and grass seed origin options are outlined on separate pages as the issues that influence choices differ in some respects.
Wild Flower Seed Origins
The following notes explain our practical policy of matching origin to use and the additional options that may be available. The sections are numbered to make it easier to refer to these options in any correspondence or requests you may put to us.
All the wild flower seed stocks we offer originate from wild plant populations in Britain. The wild plant communities we collect from are botanically diverse and matched to the habitats for which we expect ours seed to be sown (eg meadows). With a few exceptions the seed we sell has been grown from these stocks on our farms in Norfolk and Somerset. For each of the species we sell (as individual items or as components in our mixtures) we publish the county from which our principal wild stock seed was first collected.
Where we can, we try to use the most appropriate seed stocks matched by habitat and region when mixing batches of seed for special projects and mixtures. In practice whilst we now have almost 1000 collections from all parts of the UK, for most orders to mix a comprehensive range of species we will need to use some ‘local stocks’ and some from other UK regions. The selection of stocks for these orders will be determined (by us) subject to availability and choice in our stores at the time of ordering.
Where there is a particular requirement that the seeds for a scheme be of matched origin by habitat or region’ for example when sowing near to botanically sensitive sites, there are two options:
- We can make collections from your locality and grow these seeds on contract on our farms. This process requires a lead time of 2-5 years. We are happy to quote for this service; as a guide seeds produced on a reasonable scale in this way cost on average twice our standard list price.
- We can allocate existing stocks from our collections or crops to your project, increasing dedicated production of key stocks (where lead times allow). As a guide special origin orders cost an additional 50% on top of the standard list price reflecting the smaller scale productivity and limited availability of these stocks. Special origin seeds may be reserved by placement of an order and payment of a reservation fee (terms and quotes available on request).
For example: we have supplied locally collected seeds grown on contract for the Baldock bypass in Hertfordshire, and for Samphire Hoe in Kent (part of the channel tunnel construction project). We can offer mixtures for the Pennine dales using seed origins from meadows in Yorkshire, Co Durham and Northumberland, or mixtures using stocks from the Cotswolds.
Agricultural varieties of legume and flower species where available are usually of non British origin and the result of a long history of cultivated plant breeding selection. They differ from the corresponding wild forms, usually being more robust, vigorous and showing poor long term persistence. The exception to this is the variety ‘Kent wild white clover’ but this species is of limited application in wild flower mixes. *WE DO NOT USE THESE VARIETIES IN OUR WILD FLOWER OR MEADOW MIXTURES.
Grass Seed Origins
The following notes explain our practical policy of matching origin to use and the additional options that may be available. (The sections are numbered to make it easier to refer to these options in any correspondence or requests you may put to us).
For most landscape applications the only practical strategy is to use an appropriate combination of wild origin grasses and amenity varieties. The reasons for this are:
- When carefully chosen, amenity varieties of grasses have equivalent growth form to wild forms: many are derived without alteration from wild populations. (This is not generally the case with agriculturally bred forms eg of Ryegrass and Cocksfoot)
- True wild origin grasses cost many times more to produce as they do not have the economies of scale associated with internationally traded grass seeds – most schemes cannot justify this additional cost, or the money is better spent on wild flowers.
- Supplies of wild origin grass are very limited.
- Large volumes of amenity grass seeds are sown in landscape contexts every year; their use in wild flower mixtures, if not ideal, has minimal environmental impact.
In our standard mixtures we use British native wild origin grass seed where possible and where no suitable amenity forms exist. Otherwise we use the most appropriate amenity varieties available.
We do have limited stocks of wild origin grasses for most key species which may be specified for special schemes subject to availability. The price of genuine wild origin stocks are generally 10 times that of commercial grass sources.
For botanically sensitive projects there is the option, as with wild flowers, for us to contract grow and supply seed produced from wild collections made in your locality