Posted 11th Jul 2013
From 13th to 14th July is The Wildlife Trusts' Our Garden Wildlife Weekend, the third in a series of weekends happening throughout the year dedicated to celebrating our brilliant British wildlife. With lots of gardens to explore, including your own, why not get out and enjoy the incredible bugs, bats, birds and so much more that are buzzing around your garden this summer? To get involved visit The Wildlife Trusts website at www.wildlifetrusts.org.uk/weekends
Here's a handy guide to some of the growing number of gardens to visit which have nature at their heart! These haven't just been abandoned to go wild - they are beautiful, sometimes formal havens, carefully planted and designed with wildlife in mind. From the charming Wind in the Willows garden in Essex which is opening this summer, to the fantastically vibrant wildlife garden in the heart of Shrewsbury Abbey's ruins, there's something here to inspire everyone. Look out for insect hotels, hedgehog houses, toads, butterfly plants and pots of honey to buy!
London Wildlife Trust's Centre for Wildlife Gardening
This much-loved community garden has been going for 20 years now. Its demonstration wildlife garden with a range of mini habitats and a wild flower nursery will inspire you to plant for bees. It's currently being rejuvenated - watch out for their autumn event!
28 Marsden Road, Peckham, London, SE15 4EE. 020 7252 9186.
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday: 10:30 - 16:30.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's wildlife garden in Pearson Park
In the heart of Hull's busy city centre, there's something of a jewel hidden within Pearson Park. Small yet perfectly formed, it's an enchanting wildlife garden with ponds, native hedgerows, woodland and a buzzing, beautiful meadow. There's also a fruit and vegetable patch and a vibrant display garden all of which attracts plenty of wildlife from long-tailed tits to butterflies, shield bugs, ladybirds, solitary bees, and much more.
The stunning mature herb garden was inherited from the previous owners - in spring and summer the divine scents of rosemary, oregano and sage waft across the whole garden. There are two thriving bee hives on site and last year, the hive produced six litres of simply sublime tasting honey. The wildlife garden is open seven days a week.
You'll find it on the edge of Pearson Park along Princes Avenue in the centre of Hull.
Opening hours: 9-5 and some weekends.
Essex Wildlife Trust's Warley Place
Warley Place, once a very famous Edwardian garden belonging to Ellen Willmott, is now maintained as a nature reserve by Essex Wildlife Trust. Although the house itself has long since gone, a walk round the paths reveals tantalising glimpses of what the estate once comprised. There are exotic trees, remains of cold frames, greenhouses, reservoirs, a terrace and the conservatory that was part of the original building.
There is no charge for entry, but please remember that even with volunteers giving their time free, the maintenance of such a site is still a costly business and your contributions will be welcome and useful. It is a nature reserve not a public garden so some of the facilities you might otherwise expect, such as a gift shop, toilets or tea room, are not available. Dogs, other than guide dogs, are not allowed. Once a month a specialist research group visits the reserve finding, identifying and caring for some of the more unusual species.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Open Gardens
Visit these Open Garden days which have been established to raise funds for Cornwall Wildlife Trust. They include the wonderful Old Zanzig Garden (open April to September, by appointment) in St. Jidgey, Wadebridge. This garden focuses on wildlife, and is home to masses of wildlife plants, butterflies, toads, and an errant squirrel. There is a wonderful woodland walk to enjoy, and ponds, flowers and vegetable gardens, with the emphasis on wildlife gardening. To find out more about the delights and dilemmas of looking after a wildlife garden visit Alison's blog on their wildlife gardening page.
Devon Wildlife Trust's wildlife garden at Cricklepit Mill
For an urban site, the Mill has an extraordinary wealth of wildlife. Around 100 species of plants flourish in its gardens and grounds, with more on its sedum roof. Having flowing water passing through means that fish and waterfowl are regularly seen. The water teems with freshwater shrimps and when the water levels are low all kinds of birds take advantage of the food source. Small fish frequently attract kingfishers and a pair of grey wagtails regularly raises a brood here. Other regular visitors are egrets and dippers.
Perhaps the most spectacular visitors are sparrowhawks, which have been seen with kills on the roof and in the car park, otters which pass through regularly and are caught on infrared cameras, and herons, one of which was observed wrestling with a large eel which didn't want to be eaten - but eventually was! In the summer the garden is awash with colour when the wildflower meadow is in full flower attracting bees and butterflies. Otters regularly visit the Mill and are often caught on an infrared camera both day and night.
Open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust's visitor centre garden, Shrewsbury
The garden at Shropshire Wildlife Trust's headquarters is a vibrant splash of green amid the bustle of Shrewsbury town centre. Here you will find herb and flower beds, unusual fruit trees, such as fig and quince, vegetables in season and a solar fountain bursting through an old millstone. Our weekly toddler group meets here and birds visit throughout the year to make the most of our feeders. There are always Trust staff in and around the place who are happy to answer any questions. The garden surrounds the Old Infirmary buildings, once part of Shrewsbury Abbey, which date back to the 13th century.
Open to the public free of charge Mon-Sat 10-4.30.
Essex Wildlife Trust's ‘The Wind in the Willows' Wildlife Garden at Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve
Situated outside the Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre, is The Wind in the Willows Wildlife Garden. The garden is still in progress but is due to open Summer 2013. Such a large proportion of our Living Landscape is people's back gardens so the aim of the project is to give examples of wildlife friendly features that can be copied and adapted in your own garden. The area is wheelchair accessible with a raised herb bed, wildflower meadow, examples of wildlife friendly planting, hedgehog house, pond, bird feeding area and insect hotel. Look out for signs of our friends from The Wind in the Willows too!
Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve, Hawkswood Road, Downham, Billericay, Essex. CM11 1WT. 01268 711001.
Opening hours 9am - 5pm daily.
Please visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/how-you-can-help/wildlife-gardening for the latest details.
Images courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Miles Davies, Steve Edwards & Amy Lewis