Image: Shropshire Wildlife Trust
There are a 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. They're ready and waiting to welcome visitors, and they're the perfect places to bring 'wild' into your life.
From the charming Wind in the Willows garden in Essex, 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! Don’t forget to check out all the other gardening projects and events run by The Wildlife Trusts...
London Wildlife Trust’s Centre for Wildlife Gardening
This much loved community garden has been delighting local residents for over 25 years now.
Located behind a quiet residential street, it’s the perfect place to enjoy inner city nature, to learn and to relax. The centre runs regular, free family-friendly events and works closely with the local community.
Footpaths around the reserve are accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and toilet facilities are available. The Centre for Wildlife Gardening is located at 28 Marsden Road, Peckham, London, SE15 4EE and is a seven minute walk from East Dulwich station. On street parking available. Telephone 020 7252 9186. Open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10:30am-4:30pm. Have a look at this beautiful garden here.
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: 9am-5pm.
Learn more about this site and how to visit here.
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.
Scottish Wildlife Trust's Jupiter Urban Wildlife Garden
Jupiter is one of Scotland's finest examples of the reclamation of disused industrial land for wildlife and people. This urban nature oasis is right in the middle of industrial Grangemouth and is a haven for birds, butterflies and wildflowers. The Centre offers:
• A fantastic place to explore and relax - come and picnic, walk or even use our BBQ
• Self-led activities including pond dipping, mini beast safaris and tree orienteering
• Wildlife gardens showing how you can attract more wildlife to your own garden
• Regular wildlife events - guided walks, children's activities and much more
• Early years and primary education for schools and other community groups all-year-round
• Wildflowers to buy from partners, TCV Scotland's Jupiter Wildflower Nursery
For visitor information and opening hours please visit their webpage.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Open Gardens
Gardens are vital wildlife havens and bring people closer to nature. For 2015 Cornwall Wildlife Trust are pleased to announce their fifth series of Open Garden days which will raise funds for Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
All the gardens opening for the Trust, be they large or small, are loved by their owners who want to share their enthusiasm and passion for gardening with others. They include Poppy Cottage, nr Truro, Ten Acre Wood (pictured) and the stunning Old Zanzig, Wadebridge.
Old Zanzig 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.
Read about all the open gardens available here, and enjoy your visits!
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 leat 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 (see the webcams page) 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. Open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s visitor centre garden, Shrewsbury
The garden at The Cut, Shropshire Wildlife Trust's headquarters is an oasis of tranquility amid the bustle of Shrewsbury town centre. Here you will find herb and flower beds, mini- meadows, unusual fruit trees such as fig and quince, vegetables in season and a solar fountain bursting through an old millstone.
There are always Trust staff around who are happy to answer any questions and you can buy wildlife-friendly plants and bird food here. The garden surrounds the Old Infirmary buildings, once part of Shrewsbury Abbey and which date back to the 13th century. Open to the public free of charge Mon-Sat 10am - 4.30pm.
Contact details and more information are found here.
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, which opened in 2014. 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! Opening hours 9am–5pm daily.
For directions and more information on the amazing things to see in this garden, take a look here.
Herefordshire Wildlife Trust's wildlife garden at Lower House Farm
The design of the garden was led by Dr Anthea Turner and Chris Evans following Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s purchasing of the farmhouse in 1995. An informal cottage garden design, the plants along the main border are mainly old-fashioned garden varieties of native wildflowers and a pond and seating areas are dotted amongst the planting.
The lawn has been allowed to grow as a wildflower meadow with mown paths through the sward, a venerable pollarded weeping willow shading its centre. A laid hedge of elm and hawthorn boundaries the lane while to the rear of the farmhouse is the orchard which leads onto Lugg Meadow – an historic Lammas meadow.
The garden is managed with wildlife in mind not only through the planting but with log piles, a large compost heap, bee houses and the sensitive hands of the wonderful volunteer gardeners Robbie and Faith.
If you would like to visit this beautiful space, have a look here.
The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire's wildlife garden at Manor House
The back garden at Manor House, Cambourne is small but perfectly formed
It has an attractive flower lined walkway which leads under a now flourishing willow arch (made by a member of staff) with picnic tables beyond. A small pond fringed by flag irises is home to great crested newts, plentiful water boatmen and other aquatic species as well as white flowering water lilies; dragon and damselflies skim over the surface in summer months.
A few old species of apple tree have been planted (yielding crops of very tasty apples), while various bird feeders full of Vine House Farm seeds keep the resident birds happy and well fed. Open 9-5 Mon-Fri, Manor House, Broad Street, Cambourne CB23 6DH
For more information about Manor House and Cambourne Reserve in general, take a look here.
Tees Valley Wildlife Trust's Growing Wild Schools Garden
This garden won the 2014 Best Community Innovative Garden Award in the Birdwatching Magazine’s wildlife gardening competition. The aim was to create an edible and wildlife garden packed full with inspiration on new, easy ways to grow fruit and vegetables and features to attract a wide range of wildlife.
The Trust have included nectar-rich flowers in the borders to encourage bees and insects to visit our apples and other fruit bushes. The garden is visited by over 1500 pupils a year and it is hoped that they will take away ideas from the garden to try at home.
There are also two innovative features: a rustic bird cafe and a habitat wall. The rustic bird cafe is designed as a bird table “plus” by Keith Ferry from Woodland Connections. The habitat wall is designed to provide a home for a variety of invertebrates with a multitude of spaces of different sizes for them to hide. Species of birds that have visited the bird cafe so far include greater spotted woodpecker, tree sparrow and redpoll. Around the garden are an assortment of bird boxes and insect boxes and a hedgehog box.
Martin Allen who helped to design the garden said "We’re trying some unusual things too; over in the far corner is a gage tree (a sort-of green plum) and nearby is an Oregon grape which has edible berries. One of the two hazel bushes has been impregnated with truffle spores – fingers crossed that works, there’s a rose grown for the hips to use in syrup and while we’re thinking of making drinks there’s a dark-leaved Elder nearby...pink elderflower champagne anyone?”
The rest of the garden includes a variety of plants that can be eaten either by people or birds and includes blackcurrants, alpine strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries. More information about the garden can be found here,