Posted 12th Jul 2013
Join in! If you don't have a garden you can still get involved with The Wildlife Trusts: Our Garden Wildlife Weekend by taking part in some of these fantastic wildlife gardening awards, competitions, community initiatives and more...
The Wildlife Trusts have created an amazing range of wildlife gardening projects - from awards and competitions to community-led growing schemes and local initiatives to bring a sense of the wild back to people's lives and their streets. Here are a few of their ongoing projects - join in or contact your local Wildlife Trust to see what they're up to near you!
Avon Wildlife Trust's Feed Bristol Project
This innovative project has transformed an eight acre former market garden into a community hub for growing vegetables and gardening for wildlife. Feed Bristol is marking a year of success, and thanks also to the support of its volunteers, it has welcomed 70 different organisations and almost 8,000 people, including those with disabilities or from low-income areas. It has also worked with 585 school children from 17 schools, and helped to change the city's food culture, working alongside the local food movement, promoting organic values and wildlife gardening. Feed Bristol is being used as a case study for the European Green Capital of the Year bid.
Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust's EcoPark
The Ecopark is a community growing project bringing people closer to nature through gardening and wildlife-themed arts and crafts activities. There's an emphasis on growing local flora and collecting seeds.
Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust's Let's Grow Black Country project
Let's Grow Black Country is an exciting scheme which aims to support people of all ages and abilities to get involved in gardening and food growing wherever they are. Support from the team is offered across the Black Country boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton. They provide expertise in all aspects of food growing, gardening, accessible garden planning and creation of wildlife habitats
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Dig In project
Dig In is busy creating a network of community-led edible food growing places in and around the city of York for schools and families. They are designing new spaces, turning disused parks into community gardens, hosting community work days and gardening clubs, even building clay ovens.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's Living Gardens Project
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust wants to create the county's biggest nature reserve by asking all garden owners to encourage wildlife into their gardens. Through a new programme called ‘Living Gardens' the Trust is providing help and advice on how you can make your garden more wildlife friendly. Grade your garden and see how good it is for wildlife by taking part in the Trust's survey. Sudeley Castle's owner, Lady Ashcombe, is hosting tours of the castle's gardens in support of the Living Gardens project in September. Join them on a specially designed tour - for over 15 years Sudeley has been gardening organically and supports hundreds of wildlife species within its many niche gardens, castle ruins and medieval stew pond including slow worms, toads, bee orchids, disease resistant elms, bumble bees, dragonflies, king fishers and nuthatches - to name a few!
Kent Wildlife Trust's 2013 Gardening Awards
The 2013 Kent Wildlife Gardening Awards is free to enter and open to anyone who gardens in Kent, however large or small their plot and whether they are a business, community group, school, allotment, private garden or even a collection of adjoining gardens. The deadline for entries is 30th June. Kent Wildlife Trust's volunteer gardening advisors aim to visit as many entries as possible before the end of August. They recommend gardens for bronze, silver or gold certificates and also give advice. In addition, gold winners receive one of the Trust's coveted Wild About Gardens blue plaques and may be put forward for one of our 'special awards for gardens of particular merit' such as Best Urban Wildlife Garden, Best School Wildlife Garden, and Best Community Wildlife Project. So far there have been over 100 entrants in 7 categories. The awards presentations will be held in the autumn. There are a range of advice sheets available.
Somerset Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Garden Award Scheme
There are an estimated 124,500 gardens in Somerset covering 19 square kilometres of the county. These gardens offer huge potential for wildlife and provide most of us with an opportunity to improve an area for wildlife. Gardening for Wildlife is all about creating habitats so animals and plants can thrive alongside people. Every garden, however big or small, is a potential nature reserve.
To recognise the increasingly important role that gardeners can play Somerset Wildlife Trust launched its This is a Wildlife Garden Award scheme, with 144 plaques awarded to gardeners across Somerset to proudly display on their garden gates. Gardeners can simply self-assess their garden online at www.somersetwildlife.org/wildlifegardening looking at the four basic needs of life: Food, shelter, water, places to breed. Photos and stories are added to an online gallery providing inspiration to all budding wildlife gardeners.
Dorset Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Friendly Garden competition
Dorset Wildlife Trust are currently judging their Wildlife Friendly Garden competition, in partnership with the Garden Group in Dorset. They are awarding gardens with plaques, and some very impressive hampers to spectacular gardens in Dorset (there are quite a few!) - they are judging this throughout June. On 30th June, the Trust is visiting a very impressive garden in Weymouth to award the 300th plaque.
Sussex Wildlife Trust's Nature Street
Sussex Wildlife Trust is asking people to become Nature Street Residents and to rally support from their neighbours and work together to create diverse and thriving wildlife habitats throughout their street, estate or communal grounds. You can register for your Nature Street map and receive a pack which will help you get started. The pack contains resources and factsheets which can be handed out to neighbours, posters to help advertise the project, tips and hints on how to get neighbours involved and advice on what people can do in their gardens. Sussex Wildlife Trust also run some great courses and events around gardening including How to Create a Living Landscape.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust's appeal to buy Darwin's childhood garden
Shropshire Wildlife Trust is raising funds to purchase part of Charles Darwin's garden in Shrewsbury. While much of the formerly extensive grounds attached to The Mount (his birthplace and childhood home) has been built upon, other parts have survived in private gardens. The Shropshire Wildlife Trust have been approached by the owner of one such property who is offering them the chance to buy an acre of steep, wooded land that once played a vital role in Darwin's childhood.
Through the wood, alongside an ice house once used by the Darwins, runs a path with views down to the River Severn. It was here 200 years ago that the young Darwin was sent every day before breakfast to walk the loop path at the bottom of the garden. It was known as the Thinking Path, providing as it did, a regular time for thought-gathering and reflection. The habit became ingrained in Darwin's daily routine and when he and his wife Emma bought Down House in Kent, they made their own Sandwalk through the grounds, carrying on the tradition of morning walks with their children.
Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust's Grow Wild
Grow Wild is a Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust project to support schools or community groups to make the most of its outdoor spaces for people and for wildlife. Their team of experienced gardeners can undertake a variety of work:
Design a wildlife or sensory garden, or wildlife-friendly vegetable plot
Create a garden from scratch - there's something possible for everyone from window boxes to wildflower meadows and ponds
Renovate existing gardens that have fallen by the wayside
Maintain and improve your outdoor spaces
Train your staff, volunteers and students in nature-friendly gardening techniques
We can work with you on all stages of a project, or you can brief us and we'll do the rest.
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales' garden surveys
The Trust are running three garden wildlife surveys in Swansea, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Later on in the year they'll be analysing the results to build up a picture of what wildlife is thriving where in this part of Wales. The Trust have some good wildlife gardening pages on their website covering issues such as living lawns, learning to love ivy and investing in a wild love-nest.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Bee Friendly scheme
The Trust is working with 5 Swindon primary schools to plant bee beds, with wildflowers to attract and help local bees. The children helped plant the beds and will be doing regular bee projects to learn about the role bees play in producing our food. The project is funded by Mini Plant Swindon and supported by local MP, Justin Tomlinson, who came along to Grange Infants to help plant. Children will be monitoring their bee visitors and reporting back to the Trust.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Grow Wild, Devizes
Working as part of a pilot project with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Devizes Town Council, the Trust has supplied wildflower packs to local schools and community groups to encourage more wildflowers throughout the town.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Community Growing Sites
The Trust is working in 16 sites across Wiltshire and Swindon to identify and plant community growing sites where local residents can learn how to plant and grow their own fruit and vegetables. The Trust's Food Champions, Sara and Gary, provides seeds, tools and practical help and will be running cookery classes through the summer, to help residents learn to cook what they grow.
Lancashire Wildlife Trust's food and cookery project
This is a major project promoting food growing in the community at Moss Bank Park in Bolton. The Hive at Moss Bank is being transformed from a damp, squelchy meadow in the corner of the busy park, to set up demonstrations gardens to educate and inspire people. The field used to be home to alpacas as part of Bolton Council's Animal World which has been there for decades. Trust staff and volunteers have already created footpaths and areas where children and disabled people will be able to access the Hive. Poly-tunnels have been built and growing and cookery classes have been scheduled. People of all ages will get the chance to grow a range of fruit and vegetables, learn about the plants and create fantastic meals. Project officer Charlie Barlow is keen to get the whole community involved in the Hive. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01204 663754.
Image courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Tom Marshall