COURSE CARE
Course Care: Cooperative Wildflower Project September 21, 2011 By Joshua Conway

From March to June the course comes alive with color from the wildflowers near the No. 3 green.

The word cooperative is often an overlooked aspect of the program name: Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. However, cooperation is vital to Audubon International’s approach to environmental stewardship. We are always delighted when members share stories where they have engaged the surrounding community to improve the environment where they live, work, and play.

One such story resulted from the 2010 Managed Land Survey about establishing a designated wildflower area at Lakeside Country Club in Houston, Texas. As a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary since 1995, Lakeside Country Club has a long-standing commitment to the environment. What makes this story unique is that the idea for the wildflower area project was conceived at an environmental field day at Kingwood Country Club, another Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

“After speaking to the owner of Wildseed Farms of Fredricksburg, Texas, we decided to try to establish a designated wildflower area between two lakes on our property,” stated Dee Dee Hutcherson, horticulturalist for Lakeside Country Club. Formerly the area between the two lakes was an unsightly area of the golf course that was prone to erosion and very visible from the No. 3 green and the No. 4 tee box. “I wanted to see if wildflowers would really grow in the area and if members would notice,” Hutcherson said.

The area was prepared by mowing it to a height of 0.25 inch in October. Following a visit from Tom Kramer, botanist from Wildseed Farms, a seed mix was selected that was native to Southeastern Texas and would do well in full sun with no irrigation. The mix included: Texas Bluebonnet, Indian Blanket, Scarlet Flax, Tickseed, Lemon Mint, Coneflower, Larkspur, Cosmos, African Daisy, Coreopsis, Black-eyed Susan, Toadflax, Primrose, Mexican Hat, Indian Paintbrush and Tall Poppy Mallow. Seed was then mixed with sand and spread with a walk-behind rotary spreader in two directions -- from East to West and then North to South. Spreading the seed in this manner was crucial in maintaining even seed cover. After that, the only thing left was to communicate with the Lakeside Country Club membership to let them know what to expect in the spring.

The following spring, the wildflower area quickly became a huge success. “The area was a focal point on the golf course from March until June. It serves to attract butterflies and bees to the property, and maintenance is very easy. By October it had already re-seeded itself, making it ready for spring,” added Hutcherson. Allowing the blooms to dry and the seeds to drop, Lakeside Country Club staff then mowed the area to a half inch in late fall.

“The results were far better than I could have ever hoped for!  It was so easy and very inexpensive.  The only cost to the project was the seed itself, $215.52, and three man-hours. We were able to naturalize and establish approximately one half acre and decrease labor and equipment hours in that area.  The area was not only beautiful, but it provides a natural habitat for butterflies, bees and small wildlife,” Hutcherson imparts. “The results of this project are very rewarding and we have had so many compliments for golfers, members and their guests. The visual success of this project will be extremely helpful in the future, when we try to naturalize other areas.  I believe we accomplished our number one goal of placing a positive image in the mind of members so they will allow more and more naturalization to take place in the future.”

Joshua Conway is the Education and Communications Manager for Audubon International. He can be contacted at jconway@auduboninternational.org. For more information on the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, call (518) 767-9051, extension 110.

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