Seaton's new mini golf course is a Jurassic adventure complete with dinosaurs and a beautiful themed planting scheme

Eye catching course design featuring dinosaurs, bones, eggs, rocks/boulders and fossils is now ready for play

It would be fair to say that designing a planting scheme for East Devon District Council’s brand new Jurassic themed adventure golf course in Seaton, featuring dinosaur eggs, fossils, bones and boulders was not without its challenges and required a both knowledgeable and ingenious plantsman to choose exactly the right plants to enhance the setting. 

Step forward Mike Vine, also affectionately known as Sir Michael, East Devon District Council’s Parks Improvement Officer. For the past 50 years Mike has been solely responsible for the beautiful bedding and planting designs that you see across the districts public parks and gardens. 

When confronted with this Jurassic challenge, Mike, working with Jane Nicholls, Parks and Open Spaces Improvement Officer, knew instantly that formal bedding plants would be completely inappropriate for the course, which is situated in the centre of Seafield gardens, overlooking the sea. 

I wanted to create a scheme that reflects the Jurassic theme of the course, as well as the Jurassic coast setting of Seaton. I knew that ‘pretty pretty’ just wouldn’t work here, so I opted for a wilder more natural style of planting to enhance all the fossils and boulders. I’ve deliberately chosen silvery greys and light green species with just occasional splashes of colour for contrast. 

We’ve gone for drama and a more edgy kind of feel with mature Torbay palms creating a bold central framework accompanied by spiky Chamaerops humilis cerifera, which is a hardy palm tree originating from Morocco and Cycas Revoluta, also known as Sago palm. This has a rugged trunk, topped with whorled feathery leaves. Quite a stunner in fact!  Dasylirion serratifolium is another splendidly spiky tropical species and quite architectural, too, with thin strap-like leaves covered with tiny spines. 

For movement I’ve opted for lots of grasses including a lovely feathertop grass (Pennisetum villosum), which is incredibly graceful, with clumps of light green foliage and masses of large furry caterpillar like flowers, as well as Stipa tenuissima – Mexican feathergrass – which has filament like light green leaves. As a contrast I also chose Carex buchananii, which is a bronze/cinnamon coloured leatherleaf sedge grass. The idea is that when fully grown, the grasses will sway and rustle in the wind. 

Several areas of the golf course appear to be bare earth, but these have in fact been sown with British wildflower seeds to create sections of perennial meadow, which will also attract insects and aid pollination, as they will flower each year, providing many months of interest. 

Mike explains that, with the exception of the wildflower meadows, the scheme’s plants have been deliberately spaced out to allow room for them to grow and reach maturity. Some of the chosen species will grow faster than others, but he estimates that the planting scheme will be fully established in around two years’ time.

An added bonus of the plants we have used here is that they are hardy species that require little or no maintenance. They have also been deliberately chosen for their lack of height, as we didn’t want to overpower the spectacular hard landscaping. People want to see the course in one go. 

Parks and gardens are true labours of love and, somewhat poignantly, this is Mike’s last labour for East Devon, as he is retiring. However, Seaton’s adventure golf course with it Jurassic planting scheme will hopefully endure for many years as a fitting testament to his and Jane’s skill and creativity. 

Seaton’s new adventure golf was funded with Section 106 money, collected by East Devon from developers for new homes they have created in Seaton. The course will be open to residents and visitors during the Easter Holidays every day from 1-17 April and again on the 1 May Bank Holiday, plus every weekend from 1 April to 24 September 2017.

Over the summer, the course will be open every day from 29 May until 8 September 2017.

Entry is free of charge for LED Unlimited members and only £3 (Adults) and £2 (children) for non members.